When we built our first “dream home”, becoming an interior decorator wasn’t even on my radar.
I had a natural eye for what looked good, but I was naive. I didn’t realize how tiring all the decisions would become. By the time I was deciding on style of doorknobs, hinge colors, and light fixtures, I was completely overwhelmed! I would have given anything for a “how to” guide to help me make better decisions.
And here’s the kicker: those decisions shouldn’t have been made at the end of the building process anyway. They should have been made before or at the time the house started going up.
Today I’ve compiled a list for you. It tells you what decisions need to be made, what order to make them, and why.
Are you ready?
New Construction Decisions
- The first decision that has to be made is your overall mood, style, and feel. You don’t have to get specific at this point, but you do need a barometer to check if your decisions fit the style you are going for. Compile pictures via Houzz of Pinterest that make you happy. Don’t conserve here! It doesn’t cost anything to dream. Look for common threads running through those inspirational photos. Do you see lots of design and patter, or are you drawn to calm interiors? Do you have a thing for modern furnishings, or do you lean to traditional tastes? Write your thoughts down.
- The second decision that needs to be made are your metals. What do I mean by that? Do you predominately like silver, gold, rubbed bronze, or black finishes? While you don’t have to stick to one metal, knowing this will make picking lighting, plumbing, and hardware decisions much easier.
- Plumbing fixtures, sinks, appliances, and tubs come next. This is where I made my biggest mistake when we built our first home. I thought it was one of the last decision to make, and I paid dearly for it. So what’s the deal? Why do you need to make plumbing decisions first? Because the framing has to work around your plumbing and support appliances/tubs. Do you want a wall mount faucet? The contractor needs to tell his framing crew and plumber where to put their rough plumbing, height and all. The plumbers also need to get your items ordered now so they’re ready to be installed when the time comes. If something is out of stock, it still may have time to get here.
- After plumbing fixtures, or at the same time of plumbing fixtures, you need to decide on your lighting. Where do you need can lights and how many? Are you wanting lamps? Maybe your floor plan is open and you need to get an outlet in the floor so wires don’t become a tripping hazard. Are you planning on hanging a large chandelier? The framing crew needs to know so that they can get extra blocking in to support the weight.
- Windows and window treatment decisions are next. Again, it may seem out of order. Why are you deciding on end finishes before you’ve even started? The same reason as the lighting. If the contractor needs extra framing to hold heavy curtains, he needs to know now.
- Door and trim styles (which will be easy because you already know what style your house will be). But you need to know the exact ones, because the framing crew will need to know how large to create their openings, or if they need extra space around your doors to account for extra wide trim. Did you realize all of these decisions needed to be make before or right when framing started?
- There’s no time to relax. Even before framing is finished, your team needs to know about your cabinets. Work with a professional showroom, designer, or the cabinetry professional to get exactly what you want. These professionals will need all the specs for your sinks and faucets, plus any other needs you may have. Are you a great cook? Maybe you need extra storage for your professional mixer (and you have more pans than a design diva has shoes). Uh-hum. Or you want a locker in your mudroom for each one of your kids. It’s all very important, and I don’t think this step should be done without a professional. The finishes are too expensive to pick on your own. Why invest in something you’ll be displeased with that has wacky colors? If you don’t get any other help, PLEASE get some help in this arena. You’ll be protecting a very big investment.
- The last decisions all need to be made together: flooring, countertops, and knobs for cabinets. Again, for the reasons above, please work with a professional. These are permanent and expensive items for your home. Make sure they are right in color, mood, and function.
If you are landing here for the first time, this is the fourth installment of a mini-series I am running. If you have questions on hiring the right professional, how much new construction will cost you, or how long the process will take, make sure to read those posts as well!