Keep Clients Organized Throughout the Design Process with a Binder

Organize your interior design client using a binder

Until you get to install, it’s pretty easy for most clients to feel the only thing that’s getting accomplished with their design project is their bank account hemorrhaging money.

At the beginning of the design project, let’s face it, the design process feels a bit abstract viewed from the eyes of the client. They are overwhelmed with the plethora of samples and decisions they need to make, decisions that cost a fair amount of money and it all just seems surreal until install.

So, I like to give my clients a sense of control. Everyone likes a little control, am I right? I do this by helping them get organized.

OK, before you think, “But, Kathleen, isn’t that overstepping? They didn’t hire me to ORGANIZE!”—let me explain.

Why Organize Your Client?

All the decisions that need to be made when you are doing a new build or a huge remodel overwhelms most clients. To help the client overpower that overwhelm, I organize a client binder, as well as share an organized digital file folder with my clients via DropBox.

Organization is a Gift

By keeping your client organized, you are giving them the gift that keeps on giving. You are lowering their stress levels. The confusion and angst (the confusion and angst that can be controlled anyway) with a design project are eliminated. One of the greatest byproducts of getting organized yourself is organizing your design clients!

Throughout the design project your client will want to access decisions you made. They will want to QUICKLY find answers to any questions they have about selections or processes. When you make this an easy task by helping them get organized, their blood pressure remains stable and their dispositions serene.


But, I hear you. Why a binder? Doesn’t that seem too old school? Hey, I do old school because when someone spends a ton of money to get the home of their dreams, they need something TANGIBLE to hold on to.

Clients can bring this binder to all of your meetings. It gives them a home for all of their documents and something to refer to when they get home and suddenly can’t remember what’s next, what design decisions were made or what fabric they selected.

I find that a client binder is a great resource to keep clients informed and alerted to what is up next in the design process. When they have answers at their fingertips, they won’t need to have you on speed dial for each and every little question.

Give your Clients a Binder at the First Meeting

I like to start the design project collaboration off on the right foot and give my clients their binder at the very first meeting.

When we start with good organization from the beginning our chances of staying organized throughout the entire design project are much better. Here are some of the documents I include in the binder for that first client meeting:

What’s in the Binder?

  • Copy of the signed letter of agreement
  • Agenda for the first meeting
  • Blank sheets for meeting notes
  • Client Care instructions, depending on the project
  • Due Diligence
  • How to Hire Professionals
  • How to Prepare Your Kitchen for a Remodel
  • Design Project-Flow Chart
  • Design-Project Phases
  • Preparing Your Home for a Remodel
  • Typical Bathroom Remodel Schedule
  • Typical Kitchen Remodel Schedule
  • Collaboration Tips

How to Set up a Client Binder

As soon as there’s a signed letter of agreement, it’s time to create your client binder. I like to set up a new binder with a cover page, a spine label and an index with tabs.

Include Labels

These are the index labels I like to include:

  • Letter of agreement
  • Meeting notes
  • To-do lists
  • Floor plans
  • Invoices
  • PowerPoint presentations
  • Client Care

I’ll be honest with you. Some clients covet these binders. They clutch their binders like it’s their lifeline. And, it is.

BUT, on the opposite end of the spectrum, some clients don’t reference their binders until later in the design process. No matter where my clients fall on the spectrum of binder love or hate, I refer back to the binder throughout the job. I also keep copies of everything organized and easy to access in their DropBox folder.

Please, grab my Client Organization Tips here–and get prepared for happy clients:)

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