“Location, location, location!” You’ve heard it a million times before and it really holds true. Where you build is just as important as what you build.
When we considered rebuilding for ourselves, location was the prime determining factor. We loved the neighborhood we lived in and didn’t want to stray too far from it. Since there were no remaining lots for sale, we decided to stay put. But…one night while out running, a little red FOR SALE BY OWNER sign popped up that wasn’t there the evening before. I called right there, made an offer and took the sign down (shh). I ran home, told my husband and we gave the deposit the next day. Sometimes things just work out! Now we are starting the process of rebuilding just down the road!
If you’re just joining us, this is the third installment of a year long series documenting the building of our personal dream home. We started off with INSPIRATION ( here), then tackled FLOORPLANS (here). Now let’s dive into LOCATION.
So, if where you build is just as important as what you build, how do you decide? Here are a few tips!
When looking at properties, consider the following:
The size of the lot and closeness of neighbors
Slope/flatness of land
Direction the lot faces (Where will the sun be?)
Natural surroundings (forest, field, water, etc.)
Trees (Remember – tall, old trees can’t just be planted)
The style of other houses in the neighborhood
Access to resources (Will you need a well? Septic tank? New power, phone or cable hookups?)
Talk to a Professional! Although it is not necessary, having a professional such as a contractor look at the property you are interested in may save your some headaches down the line.
Once you find a lot you are interested in, research the property.
Find information on the zoning, wetlands, septic connections, energy code, etc. These all affect what you can do. For example, zoning can affect the required setback distance from the street, the height of your house, and whether or not you can build an in-law suite.
Is the lot in a historic district? If so, there may be additional requirements or restrictions on how your home must look and what materials it must be built with.
Look into home values in the surrounding neighborhood. You may not want to build a $2 million house in a much less expensive area.
Speak to the neighbors. This is one of the best ways to find out if the area is a good fit for your family
What is the school district?
Keep all of these things in mind, do your research and enjoy!
How much does it actually cost to hire a designer? Well, it depends. It depends on what you’re looking for, the size of your project, who you are actually hiring and how pleasant you are to work with (it’s true).
The term “Interior Designer” is often used by decorators, furniture store salespeople, stagers and even stylish friends. Knowing what you’re actually getting can be tricky and you might need to do a bit of research. Searching the ASID (American Society of Interior Designers) website for designers in your area is a good place to start.
So, what are the different types of designers and what do they offer?
Straight-up professional Interior Designers you work with directly in your home
The most expensive option, but also the most comprehensive. This scenario has a licensed Interior Designer meet you in your home, work up a plan of action and handle everything. Professional Interior Designers are equipped to handle any design project you have. Furnishing a room, providing new home selections, built-in designs, simple updates, they’ll handle it all. You can (typically) expect an overall budget, allowances, floorpan, concept board, material selections, and final plan before anything is finalized. Know the fancy boards you see in movies with samples attached…you’re getting them, yippee! Once you agree on everything, the designer will typically place the orders, receive the merchandise, coordinate any subcontractors, deliver and install all items, and set the room up completely. Everything is handled and you can enjoy the space! You can expect to pay either a flat fee or an hourly rate, depending on the designer. Speaking for myself, I prefer charging a flat fee, so that everyone knows what the project will cost upfront, but each designer is different.
Depending on the scope of work and size of your project, you can usually expect to spend around 20-25% of the overall budget for the project plus 20% on top of any items ordered and delivered by the designer. It might sound pricey, but ordering, receiving and delivering these items entails a lot of work and liability. This 20-25% range is true for a variety of project types and is a good rule of thumb. When you get into new home selections or remodeling, the fee can go up from there. Plumbing, lighting, paint, cabinetry, etc are very detailed and take time. The fee will reflect that. A typical new home selection will run around $5,000 and remodeling projects will fall back into the 20-25% of the project range.
TIP: Offer to have the items sent directly to you and hold them there until installation day and forgo the upcharge. Personally, I often offer this to my clients and it saves us both! Win-win!
New to the game, this is an efficient and cost effective way to design a space. It sounds a little crazy… handling everything online without the designer even seeing your space… but it really isn’t. Trained designers can easily work off a plan, dimensions, photo and a budget. This set up typically goes like this for a room design. You provide the designer with an overall budget, a few inspirational photos, brands you like and a floorpan with photos of the space. The designer comes back to you with a concept board, to make sure you are both on the same page. Once approved, you move into the actual selections for the space and the designer provides a rendering of the room with the items, right where they’ll go. The process typically goes for 10 days or so and you go back and forth until you are completely happy with each and every item. The designer keeps the budget and preferences in mind throughout. In the end you receive a final package with a furniture plan, final design board, a shopping list with direct links to order, and set up instructions.
You can typically plan to pay between $500-$1,000 for a comprehensive room design, which is really a great deal. Personally, I LOVE providing online design to my clients, locally or from a distance. In fact, my first year offering online services, I completed 50+ rooms in 3 countries and loved every minute of it! You can work with a designer directly (me! me! right here!) or through a design website like Laurel & Wolf (me, me, here too!)
TIP: Find a designer with a large portfolio online that you already like and you’re halfway there!
This can really be hit or miss and it totally depends on the store.
Best case scenario is with a great store like Koontz Furniture in Florida. Stores like Koontz have top tier, professional Interior Designers who also work on their sales floor and offer design services as part of the furniture selection process. What? It’s true! If you’re looking for help picking out a room full of new items, this is a great way to go. You can get professional design services and end up not paying anything more than you would have paid for the furniture from their store. Let that sink in for a bit. You end up paying nothing. Often, you can also hire these designers to help you with more than just the furniture, for an additional fee. They, then , charge a design fee and help you with whatever you need; paint, cabinets, flooring and furniture, too.
Worst case scenario has you working with a “Decorator” in a dark, dingy chain furniture store who’s really just trying to sell you what they have. Is that middle aged man in a short sleeved button up and tie trying to sell you on the hottest trend? Run! The truth is you don’t know until you do a bit of research. Furniture stores can be an absolute treasure trove of talent, or not.
TIP: Find a store with brands you like, set a budget and see what they can do for you.
We all have one. She’s well dressed, trendy and “knows” decorating. She just can’t let you spend money on a designer, because she can help you for free! Tread lightly here. If it’s few accessories you’re looking for, by all means go together to TJMaxx and have a fun afternoon. If it’s paint colors, furniture pieces, overall design of a room, please use a trained professional. When she’s in over her head, she probably won’t tell you and your room (and friendship) will suffer. Expect to pay nothing or little to nothing.
As I initially said, it all really depends. If you’re looking to spruce up your space with a few touches with a designer online, it can be $99. If you’re looking for a traditional room design and implementation, I’d say around $2,000+. If you’re looking for a whole home design, $5000+. It all depends and part of it depends on you!
Next week, we’ll break down what should you expect from a professional, licensed Interior Designer.
What do you think about these fees? Does this fit with your experience? I’d love to here about it below 🙂
I’m certainly not anti-HGTV, but honestly, they create problems for us on a daily basis! Remodeling a home doesn’t take a week, although I wish it did. How does HGTV deceive you?? Let me count the ways.
1 Trends Are Your Friend
Ship lap walls and sliding barn doors are certainly fun, but do you REALLY want them in your house? Like forever? Like forever-ever? Trends are fun and look great in print, but you might not feel the same way about a sliding barn door in 10 years. The person who buys your home (whenever that is) might not either. My suggestion is have fun with trends via inexpensive, temporary pieces like pillows or artwork. If you love the Farmhouse look that’s hot right now, maybe freshen up your home with a few farmhouse accessories. When you go to sell your house, it won’t scream 2016.
Barn doors are super cool, but will they be dated when you go to sell your house? source
People on HGTV love granite. They say it every 5 minutes. If a home on house Hunters doesn’t have granite, well it’s obviously not the choice. Granite is great, but there are so many more options! Other natural materials like marble and soapstone are AMAZING and look great in a home. Much more solid in color, they distract less than granite. Other solid surfaces like quartz (under various names) hold up well and offer a wide variety of colors that granite just can’t. Although HGTV wants to shove granite down our throats, I say resist! Look around and see what other options there are and you might be surprised.
I can’t tell you how many times this belief causes issues. I wish remodels were like a week long, I really do! Sadly, they’re not. If you want something professionally done, not only does it take time, you might even have to wait to get on the list of projects. I know you don’t want to hear that, but it’s the truth. Remodels (or any home project, really) are labor intensive and messy. They just are. My suggestion is ask for an estimated timeline from your contractor, see if it works for you and then hold them to it.
Big, expansive areas with super large rooms that open into one another is what HGTV assumes everyone wants. It’s definitely what’s popular here, in Florida and many markets around the country. They look great and are perfect for entertaining but they have a few drawbacks to them. Not having a quiet area (besides your bedroom) to sit and read a magazine or scroll through Pinterest may come back to bite you when the volume level rises in the evening. Having your Kitchen completely open to your Family Room requires a certain level of cleanliness you may not want. Not to mention, there’s the noise from the sink or dishwasher while your watching your favorite show a few feet away. I love open floor plans and they’re certainly not going anywhere, but there are more options available. A Den/Living Room/Study with doors might be your new best friend.
This is beautiful, but you might want a little quiet time at some point. source
Look, a Kitchen with a door! Before you say no, consider the possibilities. source
5 $1,000 Will Prep Your Home For Resale
You can’t do much for $1,000, there, I said it. Really getting your home ready for resale, for top dollar, requires you to look at the space with a fresh eye. Pretend you don’t live there and see what needs attention. New paint throughout? Trim paint? Landscaping touchup? Actual (costly) repairs of plumbing, electrical, etc? It adds up and takes time. I know HGTV has told us otherwise, but it does.
Open shelving looks great, like amazing, really. Stacked up white plates and bowls on a wood beam with a beautiful backdrop really is picturesque. The bad news is that grease and dust want to join the party! No matter how clean your house is, how often you dust, cooking and living create grease and dust that has to go somewhere. Wiping down counters is easy, but pulling down a stack of bowls to individually wipe them down is time consuming. Most people end up using the same few (top) plates and bowls over and over. The ones underneath just collect. If you have your heart set on open shelving in the Kitchen, my suggestion is to keep it small and locate the area away from the cooktop.
Keeping open shelving away from the stovetop gives you a fighting chance. source
7 Product Placement? Where?
This one is pretty obvious, but it has to be said. That wood flooring looks great and the designer/host probably does really like it, but the company is paying big bucks to have it on the show. Same with the appliances. Same with the car parked in the driveway. I could go on and on, but you get the picture. Just keep it in mind when looking for something for yourself.
I love this floor, but just know the company paid to have it here. source
Where do you even begin when you’re considering building your dream home? It can be daunting, so let’s walk through it together.
If you’re just joining us, this is the second installment of a year long series documenting the building of our dream home. We started off with INSPIRATION, which you can find here. Now let’s dive into the scary area of FLOORPLANS.
1 Start With Something
So, we have our inspiration…cedar shakes…Hamptons look…Americana. Check, check, check. But, what will the house look like, feel like? How will it layout?
You have to start with something. My suggestion is to dive into one of the floor plan sites online. They have millions (literally) of plans to look at. Filter them down to meet your requirements, like number of bedrooms, bathrooms, etc. Do you want an open and airy Great Room? A more formal layout with a Living Room and Den? Poke around and see what you find. If you land on the perfect plan for you, stop right there and buy it! Done and done…disregard the rest of this post. 🙂
If you don’t, now it’s time to dig a little further. Save some of the ideas you liked and look at some other places. Your local parade of homes is a good start. Walking through model homes is extremely helpful, too.
I’m certainly not endorsing taking another builder’s plan, I’m talking about gathering ideas to begin with. Find something in line with what you like.
Visualize what you actually want the room to look like… how you want it to function, then work back from that. For example, I want a big family room focused around the fireplace and TV. So I start with that particular visual and work backwards. I don’t make my vision work with the space in front of me, I make the space work with my vision.
Do a little research. Measure a few areas around your current home. Does your family room feel cramped? Dining room tight? Find out what would actually work well and start plugging that into the plan. A good way to start inserting measurements is with a simple rug size. A 9×12 rug is a good base for a furniture grouping, give or take. Plop that measurement into the space you’re considering and see how it feels. Icovia is a great furniture floorpan resource online. There are many, many more, just poke around a bit. Go on there and create a few little nuggets to pop into your plan. Here are a few I did for this upcoming house, just to make sure I have my sizes down. Also, I am planning to use a world mural in the Playroom, so I am designing the room to be the exact size to accommodate it (13’9).
Family Room Layout
Design by Evans Construction and Design
Design by Evans Construction and Design
Design by Evans Construction and Design
5 Take It To A Professional
This is not the time to try and become an expert on drawing house plans. Furniture groupings…no problem, but not house plans. Let someone who lives, eats and breathes this stuff guide you. Trust me, they know what you don’t. I’ve been creating floorpans for over 20 years and wouldn’t even think to try and draw mine myself. You don’t have to go to an architect. I’d actually suggest you not, if you have a good idea of what you want. Ask around and find a certified engineer and CAD operator that does this. They will save you in the long run, I pinky promise.
6 Edit, Edit, Edit
Meet with your new best friend and give them all you homework from above. Let them come back with a first draft. Start editing and going back and forth until you get everything just right. I typically have 5-10 back and forth until I am 100% happy. Don’t rush it.
Here are some progress shots of our floorplan. We took 6 rounds to get to the final product.
Version 5 (with options!)
7 Pat Yourself On The Back and Enjoy!
Here is our FINAL, FINAL plan with elevation. I couldn’t be happier. It meets all of our requirements and looks exactly how I imagined. We’ve never built anything similar to this, so it’s extra exciting!
It’s that time of year. Yippee. Whether you decorate your whole house or just a room, holiday decorations should be fun and no stress. If you’re stressed out, you’re doing it wrong. 😉
Follow these 3 easy steps and sit back and enjoy.
1. Pick a Theme
I love traditional Christmas plaid and tartan decorations. Think Ralph Lauren in Connecticut on Christmas morning. Having this base to refer to makes shopping easy. Do you like all white? Modern? Country? Pick a theme and go with it.
Now that you have a signature look, vary it slightly from room to room. I mix different tartans and plaids in different areas. More formal rooms get silver champagne buckets holding mini trees with tartan ribbon. Kids areas get buckets holding trees, tartan blankets and shams. Keeping the same thread running throughout keeps everything working together.
3. When In Doubt, Add More!
This is not the time for subtlety. Your house is only going to be decorated for a month, max. Pull out all the stops and enjoy. It will be gone before you know it.
Now that we have a few guidelines, let’s see some inspiration images in my favorite look. Several are from my home. Enjoy! Sources and buying info at the bottom.
It’s almost the holidays, are you ready to get your home in gear? I know, you’re sick and tired of looking at your same boring room that you never really liked. I get it. You had grand plans for this room, remember your Pinterest board…it was going to be AWESOME!
But, then, you know…that sofa was such a good deal… you didn’t love it, but you couldn’t pass it up. Then those pillows, I mean they’re cute, right? The rug…it was from your old house, but it kind of goes. The stuff on the walls… its ok, maybe? You’ve ended up with a bunch things you sort-of like and a room you really don’t. Your husband has a nice big TV and recliner, so he’s happy. You’re not.
I hear you! We can do better! And you don’t have to spend a ton. Over the past 20+ years I have seen more rooms in need of a facelift than I can count. Honestly, all of them could have used this 10 step process and been given a whole new life. Were going to approach this as LAYERS. Here we go!
Clear the room and the surfaces
Take everything off every surface. Like everything. Nothing messes up a room more than clutter all over. Take the prints off the walls, the curtains down, every single thing. Take a good, hard look at what you have to work with and let’s start from there.
My guess is the room could probably use a fresh coat of paint. Instead of the current color, why not ramp it up a notch and go with an actual color-color? You can read more about color selection here. I mean it’s just paint. Live a little. If you don’t like it, you can always repaint it.
Slipcover your large pieces, if you need to
Your red floral sofa may be the problem. It may be too busy for the room and just throws everything into disarray. A nice neutral slipcover can solve a world of problems. You can find great ones here and here. Now that we have a rich background and a neutral upholstered pieces, let’s inject some personality.
Your rug is probably too small, I’m guessing. Your rug should really go UNDERNEATH the furniture pieces, at least the front legs. If it’s floating out in the middle, its making the room look smaller and choppy. You can ground the space with a nice, new, big rug for not that much. A woven seagrass rug always looks good and can be found very inexpensively. Check here and here. A soft, patterned rug to add some pizzaz doesn’t have to cost a fortune either. Target.com (really!) and Wayfair.com have a ton that don’t break the bank.
Drapes can really make or break a room. What’s worse than no drapes? Cheap drapes. You know the kind…thin, lifeless, too short, just bad. You don’t need to overthink this, it’s easy! My go to formula is to choose a nice neutral drape, double them up and then hang them as high and wide as possible. So, you want them to go all the way down to the floor and probably double them up on each side. This creates a rich look, even with a Target drape. 🙂 French rods are my favorite, since they don’t interfere with the room. You can find them super cheap here.
Is your furniture lined up on the wall? It shouldn’t be. “Conversational grouping” is your new go-to term. You want to create an area for people to sit and have a conversation easily. Place the rug in the center of the room, maybe centered on the fireplace or TV if that makes sense. Then put your table in the middle, again centered. Then place your sofa, love seat, chair, whatever around this. Does it leave room behind the sofa? That’s ok. I know its scary, but give it a try, you just might like it. You can practice online with websites like this one, or just move things around your house.
Because it’s at eye level, whatever is hanging on your wall is of utmost importance. You definitely don’t have to spend a ton here to create something unique, interesting and perfect for your room. I dedicated a blog post to exactly this subject that you can read here. My favorite frame is $18, for goodness sake! If you’re looking for “art-art”, take a look at these sites. They have basically everything you could ever want, in every size you can imagine. Art.com and GreatBigCanvas.com
Add new pillows to accentuate something else
Here’s where you can have a little fun. Add some personality here with fun, colorful pillows. Pick up on the wall color, the rug or even the artwork. Mix patterns and go crazy! My formula is typically a pattern, a solid and a geometric. Keep the color ways somewhat cohesive and you’re in business. Great pillows don’t cost a lot but have a major impact on the room. If you can swing it, down inserts instantly upgrade everything. Check TJMaxx for great deals!
Lighting is key and having the light not just come from the ceiling creates a soft, balanced room. Lamps solve this problem and look great while doing it. Even with a more traditional style, a clean and modern lamp always looks great. Again, Target.com and Wayfair.com have just what you need for like $40. Boom!
Get a few new accessories and display them thoughtfully
To finish off the room, display a few things you already have or grab a few new ones. Just think about it before you throw everything in there. A few well placed items always looks better than a bunch of “stuff”. Stuck? Here’s my go to formula…For your coffee table, buy a nice tray, place a few coffee table books on top, add an object on top, then plop candle to the side and finish it off with a plant. Done and done! Looks amazing! 🙂
Remember when you bought your house? That DINING ROOM…it was PERFECT…you were going to use the hell out of that thing! Every holiday, every occasion, everything! Each and every family gathering would be right there! Well, have you ever really given it the attention it deserves?
With Thanksgiving and the Holidays quickly approaching, now is a good time to get a handle your Dining Room. How? Let me help!
You probably already have a table and it’s probably fine. To be honest, although it’s the largest piece in the room, it’s really the least important. Your chairs cover up the sides and your centerpiece and place settings cover up the top…not to mention the beautiful tablecloth you probably have in mind. The most important pieces are often the most overlooked. What do your chairs look like? Could they use a reupholstering? Have they served their time and might need to be replaced? What’s on your walls? What about the windows? Is there a great centerpiece on that table? What about the light fixture?
My guess is a few new pieces…carefully thought out new pieces…are really all you need. A new focal point on the wall (art, a collage, a mirror), a striking centerpiece and new chairs might be just what the doctor ordered. Sound overwhelming? I can help! Online design is here to save the day. Set a budget you’re comfortable with, gather a few photos of rooms you like and upload your info. Done and done! We work back and forth for 10 days and at the end you have everything you need for your room, including a shopping list with links to new items, instructions and a floorpan. You can learn more about it here and start your project here. It’s super fun and more affordable than you probably expect.
To inspire you, here are a few of my favorite Dining Room photos from over the years.
Do you know about “Greige”? You should! It’s the hot new color on the block and is everywhere. You’ve probably seen it around, but didn’t know its’ name. Greige is defined as a mix between gray and beige. Not too warm, not too cool. While I typically turn my nose up at trends, this is one I can get behind.
The reason I’m so on board with the Greige trend, is because it serves a legitimate purpose. Sometimes beige is just, well, boring. Gray is everywhere and super on-trend, but sometimes it can be too cold. Greige bridges that gap and and makes things work together that night not otherwise. Gray is the top choice these days, but who wants to live in a prison? And even if you do, what are you going to do with all of your furniture that is warm and not industrial looking? Enter Greige!
But…finding the perfect shade of Greige can be a tricky task. Search it on Pinterest and you’ll be overwhelmed with results, some good and some not. A warm gray is the goal, but there are just sooooo many to choose from! But, we are in luck! I have combined my very favorite Greige colors that are tried and true, with photos showing them in real world applications below. Enjoy and pin the chart for future easy access! 🙂
How exactly DO you bring your Traditional decor into today? Two words: MIX STYLES
Mixing styles can be tricky, though. Too much and you look like a crazy person., not enough and it’s boring. But it can also be AMAZING! Interesting, unique, designer-y. It’s what takes a room from looking like a furniture store set to a well thought out mix of collected pieces.
Yes, it’s tricky. But, good news, I have a trick…a five part trick!
I typically abide by the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of the room is traditional, then add twenty percent modern. It’s just my little rule, certainly not set in stone. It works for me. Is it always exactly 80% and 20%? Of course not. But it’s something to keep in mind.
With that in mind, follow these 5 steps:
COLOR – Keep it consistent for cohesion. It keeps the room from looking mesh-moshy.
It’s that time of the year again. Give your porch a Fall makeover to celebrate the season. How? It’s easy! Let’s walk through it together!
Get a Plan
Do you like the all white, monochromatic look? A more traditional Fall color scheme? Look through some images on Pinterest and see what you’re drawn to.
Assess & Buy
Do you already have a few things on hand? No reason to buy everything all new. See what you have and make yourself a quick shopping list. I personally like to overbuy and return what I don’t use. It makes life much easier.
The key to a great vignette is the mix. Don’t use too much of one thing. Mix it up! Color, texture, materials, everything.
Keep tall things tall and short things short. Again, the mix is what you’re aiming for. See the photos below for a few examples.
Here are a few of my favorite Fall porches, including my own!