Making Design Selections When You’re Building

Whether you are planning to build a custom home one day or you’re in the middle of building one, it can be a daunting task just making the choices like stucco color or lighting fixtures.  We call these types of choices “selections“, and we have an entire workflow and automated system around working through all of them. I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside the design and selections team for our Show Homes and Spec Homes for over 15 years, and there are a few things I’ve learned along the way. Here are just a few.


Gather the Team

First, an Interior Designer is a critical team member for this process.  It seems like a simple task to go out and pick tile and plumbing, but it really isn’t. Not only are there an unlimited number of potential products for each area of the home, but there are an infinite number of ways to put them together, and most of them shouldn’t be put together in a haphazard manner. An Interior Designer understands balance, scale, color, and design – this is the “magic” that makes a home really beautiful.

The Architect on the project is, of course, important as well. He or she can advise you and also remind you of your original project goals and how to stay true to the home the way you originally envisioned it. The key is finding an Architect and Interior Designer who can and will collaborate to provide you with the best possible outcome. Having them on the same team, like we do, really helps.

So often, both of these disciplines feel like they’re competing. One will advise one thing and the other will come along and say the opposite, leaving the client confused. Our Design Team has worked together on many projects, and they have a healthy mutual respect for each other and their talents. At the end of the day, they are on the same team, literally. So their only goal is to create beautiful spaces for people.

Be Inspired

Next, find artwork, or a photo, or something to inspire the project.  This can be something in nature or a piece of fabric or who knows what! It is even better if it is something meaningful to you. Then, show it to all your design professionals and leave it up to them to achieve the inspiration look. Tell them you want it to be subtle and subdued, but you want to see hints of it throughout the home. Our team always amaze me! Sometimes it challenges them to move outside their comfort zone, but great things always result. Once we used the trees on the lot as the inspiration. You can see here in The Treehouse how all the cool little details came together. On another project, the homeowner was a Ship Captain.

You can see her project, in the floodplain, was aptly named: The Ship in the Sky.  She told us from the beginning she liked circles, and we later found out that these mimic the portholes on the ship. Even her Dining Room light fixtures were circles, and there were hints of them in her interior doors and cabinets.

Don’t Settle

Finally, stay true to what you know you love. Don’t let the plethora of choices get you off track.  After looking at so many things, it can be overwhelming.  You have to be deliberate in selecting what you love.  Having said that, you may want to ask your design team to kick off the selections process for you. That is what we typically do for our clients. Once your design professionals understand your goals and style, they can usually present the first round of selections to you. Rather than you going out and being inundated with choices, this can really help you stay laser focused on what you do and don’t like. Sometimes it’s easier to tell someone what you don’t like than what you do.

When you are presented with the materials, help them guide you toward a better choice.  Instead of saying, “I just don’t like it,” try saying, “It gets away from my original inspiration” or “that’s just not my favorite color, texture, size, or the way it is put together”. A great team will welcome your thoughts and guide you toward an even better choice that achieves the look you want without sacrificing what you love. Most of the time, our clients love 90% of what they see. So it’s really easy for our team to re-select the remaining 10%.

It is a really exhilarating feeling when you get to the end of a project and get to see it come together.  Feeling comfortable with your team and selecting what you really love will ensure you will always be happy with the end result.

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