By Heidi Powell
If you’ve lived in your home for a few years, it’s fun to dream about what you would change. Some projects may seem more pressing than others and priorities may change throughout the years and even the seasons. How do you know where to start?
First, walk through your house and make a list of the things you don’t like. Prioritize them into wants, needs, and “must haves.” Consider your year-round use of the home and whether these priorities shift throughout the year. Separate items that you can live with for the immediate future from those that absolutely must be changed soon. Although you and your Designer may focus initially on the needs and “must haves,” all items on the list should be considered during the design, to make sure that the immediate project doesn’t preclude any later wants. During the design process, only the details for phase one need to be ironed out initially, however, having an overall plan for the other rooms helps prevent getting boxed into a corner later on. When you take some time with prioritizing you can focus on the items that are truly most important to you and add items as budget allows.
Once you have ranked your priorities, create a clipping file with pictures of houses and rooms that you like. Magazines, houzz.com and Pinterest can be tremendous resources for ideas. After gathering lots of photos, then scale it down to your five or ten favorites. Think about why you like them. This will help focus your thoughts and help the designer to recreate the “feel” for you. Don’t forget about furnishings when planning. The most successful, livable remodels take into consideration the placement of furnishings, appliances, even paintings.
If there’s more than one person involved in the decision-making, it’s imperative that both people are present at the initial design meeting. Each of you will bring different wants to the table and these wants should all be considered from the very beginning, not introduced midstream through the project. The most effective brainstorming will happen if all relevant information is on the table at the very start.
Meeting with a Design team is exciting, as the exchange of ideas with professionals begins at this stage. As you learn about the process of the company you are considering, you also get a feel for whether you connect with the Designer. Look for a company that feels like a good fit and one that can give you budget information at every step of the way. While no one can accurately estimate a project prior to the design, a company that can give you budgetary ranges throughout the process will be invaluable in helping you define the scope and create a design for a project that is affordable.
So do a little dreaming. By creating a dream file and prioritizing your wish list prior to meeting with your design professional, you will help your designer to work with you and any other decision-makers in establishing both the scope and style of your project. This will ultimately maximize your design investment and give you plans that truly represent your vision.
Heidi Powell is Co-owner of Powell Construction, an award winning design-build company established in 1990, and a member of the National Kitchen and Bath Association. Heidi can be reached at the design studio located on South 3rd Street in Corvallis or at 541-752-0805.