In this day and age we seem to want it all, and we want it now!
It’s an utter obsession with instant gratification and a need for on-demand speed! With just a click of a button we have almost anything right at our fingertips. But when it comes to designing your home, it’s not always that simple. In fact, most things have to be done in stages and phases. There can be long lead times, delayed deliveries, items damaged in transit….all of which means patience is key!
It’s hugely important to start by making a list and then breaking it down. Decide what specific areas and items are of value to you, and separate them from the things that you can hold off on (it’s definitely better to do it right later down the road over doing it fast!). Once you’ve got that covered, its crucial to pinpoint the key areas where it makes sense to spend, vs. the areas where you should aim to save. I sat down with Kristen and Laura to pick their brains on the best areas to save vs. spend, and they offered some sage advice!
EK: It seems like it can be pretty overwhelming to cross everything off of your wish list at once when it comes to designing your home. Do you have advice on where to start?
KM: Start with researching images on Pinterest or in shelter magazines that you like. Try to find an aesthetic or look that you keep coming back to or keeps catching your eye. That usually tells us what you are really drawn to and what your true style is. Then from there, start breaking it down into manageable parts. Are you wanting a fabulous rug that sets the tone for the room? An amazing wallpaper or rich paint color? Graphic patterned Drapes? Let that be the starting point for you, and work toward those inspirational images piece by piece.
LB: Having a roadmap for your whole home, or the rooms that need design help, is the best way to get started. That way, when you work in phases, your home will be continuous when you finish. For instance, if you know what your foyer will look like once it’s complete, it’s much easier to make decisions on the living room off of the foyer in advance. Your home will flow in style, color, and design. I definitely recommend researching images on Pinterest or Houzz so that you can hone in on your own personal style that fits with the architecture of your home.
EK: What are the top three areas you suggest putting your money during the design process? (i.e. Window Treatments? The Master Bedroom? Lighting?)
KM: I am a big proponent of original art to bring personality and uniqueness to a room. It doesn’t have to be pricy but it completes a huge part of the puzzle in spaces. And don’t be afraid to go big. Second, good lighting can make or break a room. You pay a small price to add varying layers of lighting by adding a recessed floor outlet under your sofa to hide lamp cords, or add library lights to highlight your bookshelves, even adding recessed lighting only requires a little bit of patching and painting and is not the nightmare you might think it is. And put dimmers on every major light switch. The third area would be in good window treatments. You may have to phase this in over time because it is a high dollar investment in some cases, but good drapes elevate a house, especially if you have invested in your dream home or forever home- there is no substitute for quality here.
LB: Depending upon budget, I always recommend spending more money on the architectural elements of your home along with custom draperies. In areas that are used more often, such as the kitchen, family room, and bathrooms, a little extra planning, thought, and quality of materials goes a long way. Custom draperies or architectural window coverings take a home from average to extraordinary. I would rather see a simple linen custom drapery that is made for a window with proper hardware rather than an embroidered silk panel that was bought at a box store and retro-fitted to a room. It’s very difficult, and usually impossible, to successfully buy store-made draperies for a home.
EK: Do you have any tips on where you can save, but still get the look of high end?
KM: With window treatments, you can substitute for pricier fabrics when you use an inexpensive solid fabric like a linen or a lower priced solid silk. And with good fabrication and a fun trim, an inexpensive fabric can look like a million bucks. Also, changing out your pillows for good quality ones is an easy way to bring personality, quick change, and updating to a room. You can also get crafty and hot glue a fun trim to the bottom of your chairs or sofa, or even your shower curtain- a great way to get the high-end, custom design look for next to nothing.
LB: Every item in your home can be high-end or of the best quality. When budget does not allow for that, I usually suggest buying furniture for less important rooms from affordable retail stores. If there are any areas you like to “DIY”, go for it! Painting old furniture, changing the hardware, reupholstering dining seats, refreshing pillows, painting a room, etc. can go a long way in saving money and updating your look.
EK: What types of items can be put on the back burner for updating down the line?
KM: If you are starting with a clean slate, window treatments, artwork or wallpaper can be phased in later but you must try to get to these- it’s so important to achieve that inviting, completed look or wow factor you are going for.
LB: When starting with a blank slate, obviously the most important item is furniture. But, maybe hold off on the unique piece in the hall that needs a bit of research and/or extra budget. The last thing you want to do is pour money into something bad. So, if you can’t afford all of the furniture and décor at once, don’t delay the process by buying junk in the meantime to fill a space. Otherwise, you may never end up with your dream room or home.
EK: What are the non-negotiables for designing your space? (i.e. what are the must-do’s that should never be skipped)
KM: See above- Artwork, window treatments and lighting!
LB: Definitely quality draperies or window coverings (if needed), properly scaled furniture, and a style that speaks to and achieves the homeowner’s dream.
Raise your hand if you love HGTV!
Chances are you’ve got 5 digits in the air, and you aren’t alone. It seems these days everyone is addicted to this design-centric network, and it’s hard not to get sucked in. I swear I tune in for one show, and then I come-to 3 hours and 6 programs later…
And why wouldn’t you love HGTV? It’s aspirational, motivational and Chip and Joanna? Can you say #relationshipgoals?
But truth be told, the good old Home and Garden network can sometimes be a touch “smoke and mirrors”.
The “simple, fast and affordable” design packages that they present to viewers, are not necessarily a realistic portrayal of how the design process works. It’s just that; a process. It takes time, (sometimes a lot of time) to work through each phase of planning, drawing, furniture/fabric selections, labor etc. The shows however, have selective editing on their side, fitting an entire home re-design into 30-60 minutes of viewing.
Re-designing your space can also be a significant investment, often far off from what you see quoted in these programs. The reason? Many of these shows provide labor and materials that are either discounted or all together free (what a dream!). Meaning, all areas of the process are not always accounted for when they total up costs, and that can be a bit misleading to viewers.
That said, there are definitely some very interesting projects and renovations featured on HGTV, the bulk of which seem follow a pretty standard, uniform formula: One relatable (i.e adorable) family on a strict budget who want it all. Their dream home includes a full renovation, interior design and meticulous landscape work.
We sit, eager to watch the process unfold, and bite our nails wondering, “will they get the heated bathroom floors that they both have to have”? It seems like magic when 20 minutes later (typically after one or two scripted “unexpected bumps in the road”) they’re left with sparkling new countertops, shiny hardwood flooring and a tear in their eye as the big reveal is presented.
They’re happy, and boy are we happy that it all came together for them in the end – why were we even worried? It ALWAYS comes together in the end!
But the moral of this story is: “reality TV” is not always reality (except for the part where it all comes together in the end…that part is real!)
Don’t get me wrong, I am a self proclaimed HGTV addict myself (I still can’t decide which property brother I like best), but I’m also glad to know the differences between a reality tv project and, well…a reality project.
OFFICE POLL: What’s Your Favorite HGTV Show?
- Kirsten’s Favorite HGTV Show: Property Brothers
- Laura’s Favorite HGTV Show: Fixer Upper
- Elle’s Favorite HGTV Show: Flip or Flop
If you are about to embark on a home design project, there are some things to know before starting up! Below are our tips for hiring a design professional. Happy Reading!
Tips for Hiring a Design Professional:
- Educate yourself on the general market place before you begin, understanding what things cost and recognizing the scope and level of the project you are about to undertake.
- Remember, no two designers are the same: Figure out what you value in the process, and where your budget lies, then interview around to find the right fit!
- Talk Budget Up Front: A great designer will be very forth coming with what the process costs, (no one wants surprises in this area!) but do note, it’s pretty much impossible to give an exact figure.
- Get all expectations set from the start: Share what is important to you in the process, and what you are aiming to get out of working together.
- Articulate how you plan to use your space: Are you always entertaining? Do you have a bunch of pets? Do you have storage concerns? Sharing how you use your space in everyday life will help to create a design road map!
- Be prepared to discuss appropriate work-around solutions as needed: The process is a marathon not a sprint. Along the way things will inevitably happen (fabrics will be discontinued, items will have delayed shipping timelines). It’s important to remember that there are multiple solutions to everything, not one perfect answer!
- Have fun! This should be a creative and exciting process. Remember to take the time to stop and enjoy watching it all come together!