Q: I'm about to start building a new home. I know I need an interior designer's help, but when in the process should I bring them on board?
A to the Q: When building a new home, the most important thing is to have a home you love in the end. The second most important thing is to maintain your sanity getting there! A great designer should help you accomplish both of these when you're building or remodeling. It is not uncommon for first-time clients to say they wish they had brought us on sooner.
Why is that? There are so many details the architect and builder need to know up-front. Many of these are tied to design elements, like layout and lighting. Making these decisions before any tools are even on site will lead to a thoughtful and smooth process, with everything done right from the beginning.
Pipes and gas lines are laid during step one: the pouring of the slab. So you need to know whether you want a sink in the kitchen island, the exact location of the gas fireplace or any specialty gas appliances, and whether you want a curbless shower that's flush with the floor. Even shower fixtures need to be chosen early so the proper valves are installed - Kohler valves and Waterworks fixtures are not compatible, for example. Duringthe plumbing rough-in process, you need to know whether you want wall-mounted or counter top faucets. Rough-in happens shortly after framing is complete - which creeps up more quickly than you think it will!
Form and Function
In the kitchen, you need a convenient place for everything whether you're cooking, entertaining, or unloading the dishwasher. Thoughtful design up front makes this possible, like a custom pull-out spice rack, or an appliance garage for storage and out-of-sight use. In the bath or shower, you need a place for toiletries. Rather than just a standard soap holder or shampoo shelf, imagine a beautiful niche with accent tile. These are details the builder needs to know before the framing stage.
Lighting and Electrical
As you've heard from us, great lighting makes all the difference in how you feel and function in your home. In a build or remodel you have the opportunity to install fantastic lighting that is integrated with the house and not an after-thought. In the kitchen, the back splash can be an amazing focal point that you don't want to clutter with outlets. Instead, you can hide them in the counter top or beneath cabinetry. In the bathroom, standard over-the-mirror vanity fixtures are the equivalent of the noonday sun glaring down on you. It is much more complimentary to light your face from the front, with sconces that flank the mirror. If you want to showcase prized art, it needs wiring for accent lighting.
Nothing muddies the clean look of wall-mounted media components like messy cords. If you know the room layout and where media will be mounted, the contractor can frame out wiring niches. Here we have allowed for the TV mount and power above, and the sound bar to be recessed below. Knowing all these design details up front ensures electrical goes in the right place from the beginning.
A fantastic builder with whom we work also argues the merits of creating a team with the architect, builder, and designer from step one. Here's what Rob Reed, owner of Griffin Custom Homes, says he has learned from working with us:
"Coming from the builder side of things it’s always, 'Come on we gotta go go go, build it build it.' The design is just paint and pillows. Come to find out there’s so much more to it than that, and you really should be planning up front, prior to construction. Because there could be outlet locations, light locations, change in lighting. Where are you going to hang a sconce? There’s a lot more that goes into the construction side of it, not just post-construction," Reed says. "So I think without a designer you can still end up with a really nice product. With a designer it ends up being great, because it ends up having a lot more personal touches and accents that really kind of set it apart."
Far more than just finishing touches, a great designer specifies technical and behind-the-scenes details from the inception of a project that will keep it on track. The last thing you want is the headache of slowdowns and having to re-do steps that weren't right the first time. As designers, it's our job and our super power to envision the end result, and to know the details that will get you there!
If you are about to build or remodel your home and want to know more about how a designer can enhance your process and your home, let us know! We would love to help.