You have decided to downsize and have chosen the décor for much of your new home, or carefully chosen a new condo and are excited to move in. Now comes the hard part, designing your dream home with either the developer’s floor plan or the existing floor plan. This can be overwhelming. Here’s a guide to making even the most difficult design decisions.
1) Setting Design Goals: Before the decision making process begins, it’s important to create a vision of what you want your new home to look like-and do some research and prep work before you finalize your designs.
- Build a Scrapbook: Of magazine clippings with colours and styles you like-everything from flooring to faucets.
- Visit Design Centers: In other developments. This will allow you to compare the layouts of homes and see which ones you like and could picture yourself living in.
- Create a “Needs and Wants” List: It’s important to know your budget for your new home and know where you can and cannot compromise.
- Take Advantage of Marketing Tools: Such as online visual tours and interior renderings, as well as open houses.
- Talk to Other Homeowners: Talk to your potential neighbours to see what they like and don’t like about their home, neighbourhood etc.
- Go to Your Development’s Design Center: And look around. Touch things, test them out, and bring your camera to take pictures of everything, then go home and take it all in.
2) The Design Appointment:The design appointment is where the building of your dream home begins! Here’s what you need to know:
- What to Bring: Take your wish list and scrapbook to give the designer a point of reference. Also bring pictures and dimensions of any furniture and art that you’re moving into your home.
- How Long it Will Take: Appointments typically last from one to three hours. Sometimes they’re broken into stages-your first appointment may be to decide exterior colours, or there may be a separate one for appliances and cabinetry.
- The Process: When it comes to putting everything together, your assigned designer might start by anchoring the home with a room, like the kitchen, or begin with flooring and move up to counters, wall colours, tiles, and woodwork. Don’t be afraid to ask questions-use this person’s expertise to guide you.
3) Call in a Designer:
- Why it’s Worth it: The person running your design appointment isn’t necessarily going to be an interior designer. Hire someone you have a rapport with and whose independent of the developer but familiar with the process. If you utilize their services for about four hours and they typically charge around $150 per hour, it will be a worthwhile expense.
- How They Can Help: This step is like bringing a relator with you when you’re buying a house. An interior designer can help you design a theme around the colours you have chosen.
4) Layout Liabilities:It’s important to make sure you look carefully at how the space is planned out. The floor plan is your map to your new home: try to visualize ceiling height, room size, sightlines, and the flow of light and traffic throughout the rooms. Here are some other things to keep in mind:
- Are There too Many Hallways?: Like unusable nooks? Ask the designer about other features that may not appearon the home’s layout, such as bulkheads, which can make it difficult to hang things such as draperies.
- Is There Enough Storage?: Have considerations been made to adding built-ins, or are there places you can adapt for storage, such as areas under stairways?
- Will You be Able to Tailor the Space to Your Needs?: Is your space rigid so that you won’t have any flexibility? For example, if there’s a formal dining room, could it become something else if you don’t want to entertain? Or if there’s a den, could it be opened up to give you a larger living area?
- How Many Bathrooms are There?: Look at the ratio of bedrooms to bathrooms to determine if it’s equal. If not you might end up deciding to add a bathroom or remodeling it into another useable space such as an office.
5) Shed Some Light: Many new homes have limited lighting. There’s often only one fixture in the entry hall, one in the bathroom, and one in the kitchen. Here are some ways to ensure your new home is well lit.
- Engage a Professional: To do a proper lighting plan and make sure it’s coordinated throughout.
- Consider the Amount of Natural Light Your Home is Going to Get: Ensure there are provisions for the task, ambient and decorative lighting. Find out if fixtures are energy efficient, or if they can be replaced with compact fluorescents. To keep the lighting design simple, always light your corners (for intimacy) and your center (to expand the room), and put them on two different switches.
6) Choosing Upgrades: How you upgrade your home depends on how long you plan to live in your new home. If you hope to live in your home for a few years, choose upgrades that are visual and important for resale, such as fancy faucets in your kitchen versus under-padding for your carpets.
- Short-Term: It is important to look for things that will set your home apart. For example, if you decide to go with granite throughout your home, it may be a worthwhile investment to select higher quality granite. Add things prospective buyers can see, such as an attractive backsplash in the kitchen- things you notice right away. If your home comes with black appliances, upgrade to stainless steel. You may wish to consider an over-the-oven microwave. Since the space would be taken up with a range hood, putting the microwave there will give more space elsewhere for cabinets.
- Long-Term: Do things that are harder to change later, such as putting in pots lights, adding hardwood, upgrading to a fully tiled bathroom, or switching to a more durable carpet. Look for items of convenience or choose something you’ve always wanted, such as a six-burner stove versus a four-burner range if you love to cook. Also, choose things that fit your lifestyle.
- Best Overall Value:Typically, we choose functional things for our homes that will streamline our life. Add those things that you may regret not having later, such as drawers in the bathroom instead of shelving or cabinets with doors. Built-in closet organizers are really good places to spend your money. And they can take some of the pressure off having to buy a stand-alone dresser for the bedroom.
7) The Dos and Don’ts of Home Design:
- DO select a neutral palette when it comes to choosing architectural finishes. Homeowners like to add colour when selecting finishes, but they often tire of the colour quickly. Add it later, with art, an accessory or even an area rug.
- DON’T develop your design around things like the colour of your existing towels when choosing items like tiles or countertops. The least expensive way to change the look of a room is through paint, towels and bedding.
- DON’T select different finishes for each room in a small space. Pick one floor material and one tile and make sure your millwork package is the same throughout. That will make everything easier to work with and will make your space look larger than it actually is.
- DO follow up after your design appointment to make sure you have everything you selected.
- DO read your contract before you sign. It’s all there in writing, so don’t miss the opportunity to ask questions and address any concerns.
8) Getting what you Paid for:
- Research your Developer: Find out what their track record is, what customizations they offer, how they’ve handled problems in the pasts, and the rules for visiting your home while under construction.
- Negotiate as Much as you can right from the start. You have the most power at the time you make the agreement of purchase and sale. Think about what you want and then negotiate up front-you’ll discover what they can and can’t charge. You may be able to determine the markup percentage on upgrades or guarantee your completed home will match the floor plan in the contract.
- Protect Yourself: Ask the developer to deposit money for upgrades into a trust account, so it’s only withdrawn when items are delivered.
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