Over the last decade of designing for clients, I've had the opportunity to see home design from every angle possible. Walking clients through each phase and making sure their project comes to completion has given me more insight into best practices than I could ever imagine. After looking back on my experience, it's pretty simple to sum all of it up. Achieving your dream through a new home design can happen if you consider these three pieces of design advice.
Embrace the Roller Coaster of Home Design
Simply put, there will be ups and downs through the process of turning your current space into a new, more functional and beautiful space. Prepare for your emotions to be tossed around as you research ideas, order products and start demolition. This is a very important piece of design advice.
Practically speaking, a good place to start is thinking about how you handle stress. If a setback will put you over the edge, consider that your project will have many setbacks. This will help you set yourself up for the worse case scenario and then you will hopefully have a much better experience as you find there are less setbacks than you anticipated. There will be timeline delays, damaged products during shipment and other unpredictables. My goal as a home designer is to keep the setbacks to a minimum, but the reality is some things that happen are out of anyone's control. There are a lot of moving parts and parties involved and this is exactly the reason to have a home designer as an integral piece of the equation.
That is the hard truth of design. Aren't you glad I'm telling you this now, before you begin? Preparation is key. If you take the time to let your home designer prepare you for the ups and downs you will have a much better experience as you walk through your home design journey.
There is good news. There will not only be downs. You will have many ups too. The initial stages of design are very exciting as we narrow down designs and pick finishes. The demolition phase is always exciting because you can physically see a lot of progress in a short period of time. Another up moment is when cabinets are installed and appliances or fixtures are put in place. The whole picture starts to make sense and all your hard work begins to pay off.
Lastly, the most exciting time is when the construction crews leave and you can put the final touches on your space, step back and enjoy everything. Quite frankly, this is what we both are working towards. I love experiencing that feeling with a client. It is very rewarding for us both to know we entered the project together and made it out on the other side together.
Budget for the Unexpected
It is the home designer's role to help you take that huge dream of yours and fit as much of it as possible into the budget you bring to the table. A lot of the initial design talks include a pattern of give and take to achieve the best form of your goal within the budget. After you make it passed home design ideas and start moving toward construction, there are unpredictable events that can take you pass your original budget. This is why I always tell my clients to think about having a reserve budget. It is almost like a back up to your original budget. It can help you not go mad over last minute necessary changes to specific fixture because it has recently become unavailable.
If you talk to anyone who has built a home or been a part of a home renovation, they will tell you it always costs more than you originally think it will. This is true. Therefore, I always tell my clients to think about this on the front end. My goal is to have as little surprises as possible during our work together. Again, this might be a hard thing to swallow, but aren't you glad I'm telling you now so you can prepare for it properly?
Communication Communication Communication
This is a part of home renovation that cannot be overstated. If you read through most any of our blog posts or ebooks, you'll find communication is mentioned more often than not. Everything begins and ends with communication.
First, when the home designer meets with the client, there has to be completely open communication on design style, approach and functionality. The home designer can't guess at how you want your new space to look. If there is any room for guessing, you end up with a home design that looks like what the designer likes, not the client. The client will be unhappy. Any home renovation expert worth their salt will tell you to make sure you explicitly communicate what you want in your design so the home designer will be able to better guide you in achieving what you want.
Communication doesn't stop there. Once the design phase is over, you start construction. Selecting a good contractor is an important step and a lot of the consideration should be around how well that person communicates. With all of my clients I put together a specification binder that communicates all of the measurements, dimensions and end decisions to the contractor and his subcontractors. This three ring binder stays on the job site for everyone to reference as they are building the new space.
Another crucial aspect of communication happens in the ordering process. Once the final decisions are made, it is necessary for the home designer to be very clear on which product the client has selected so the right product is delivered. This may seem like a pretty simple concept but when the designer and the client are juggling multiple decisions and communicating to multiple parties at once, the ball can get dropped pretty easily. To hedge against this, I have a standard process in place when I work with my clients that has been honed over many years of seeing where the pitfalls usually happen. Having this process in place helps to minimize the number of setbacks, lessens any possible confusion and helps all parties to communicate much simpler and easier.
Let me just say, I'm glad you are doing your research. I'm happy that you have come this far and are taking your home renovation project seriously. The more informed you are the better experience you will have through the process of design and the better outcome you will create. I have a lot more resources like this one if you want to dig deeper. Our office is only a phone call away.