First Hand Learning Lessons | Designing My House as an Interior Designer
My husband and I feel extremely blessed to have the unique opportunity of building our home from scratch here in Coronado. We never dreamt to be able to do something like this, but life is like that. You just never know what is around the corner! We are 95 percent complete with the project and hope to move in this summer (final pictures to come soon).
Even though I have designed dozens of homes for clients, been a part of dozens of renovations and several new construction projects, there were still some key reminders that stick out in my mind. If by sharing this, I could save you the hassle, time or money, I see it as a win! I believe there is always an opportunity to learn, thus, I used this experience as a way to expand my knowledge and learn more about my own industry.
Complete all design decisions way sooner than you think:
For our clients, we do this before any construction begins, but chances are, if you are doing your own home, you are going to wait till the last minute to make design decisions. However, don’t do that. The reality is that as soon as framing is done, they will need your plumbing valves. Thus, you need all your plumbing fixture selections on-site quickly thereafter as well as the quantities and locations called out. To select the finish and style, you need to know what else is being implemented in those spaces. What cabinet color/stain are you doing? What light fixtures are going in there? What are your tile and countertop selections? Before construction begins, pick out everything for each space, down to cabinet hardware and paint colors. Your design will be more thought out, cohesive and rushed decisions will be mitigated. My husband and I did that, and we are so happy we did. There were little to no rushed decisions on materials and finishes.
Cabinetry is the critical path:
Order your cabinetry way sooner than you think is necessary. I even knew that going into it, had the drawings done six months ahead of time, and yet still we pulled the trigger a little late on executing the actual cabinetry order. That mistake put a heavy burden on the back end because most finishing trades are contingent on the cabinets being installed. I have also seen on other job sites where the cabinetry delays put heavy time and financial burdens on the client and/or other trades. Be proactive on cabinetry!
Don’t skimp on: Lighting finished carpentry and flooring.
We were lucky to have an amazing finished carpenter, but wow, what a difference it makes. Also, really study finish packages. You don’t have to do the most generic package out there. Sometimes doing something a little more unique costs the same as a conventional trim detail. Flooring and lighting are other aspects that are aesthetic but also highly functional. If you can, spend a little more on your flooring product, as well as ensure you have a sufficient general lighting plan (recessed lights) along with decorating lighting fixtures throughout to add some interest to your home. I tried to use sconces and pendants anywhere I could in the home and it made a huge difference. They all just got installed last week actually! Think of light fixtures as jewelry for your home.
Don’t submit anything unless it is 100 percent final.
It is very easy to have preliminary notes, drawings and schedules, etc., mixed up with final drawings due to how many moving parts are in a new construction or renovation project. Sometimes it’s tempting to send information to keep people moving, but it ends up just being confusing. Inevitably, an old version or note will get mixed up with a final version and it can cause challenges later on. Take the time to plan out all information, schedules, drawings, etc., upfront to avoid confusion later on.
Underbuilding vs. Overbuilding
Overbuilding is generally considered unwise unless it truly is your forever home, however, underbuilding is just as unwise depending on the situation. If you are cognoscente of your home’s resell value, especially with Coronado homes’ price points, stay away from things that could possibly deter buyers: Cheap window packages, vinyl/laminate flooring and low-quality cabinetry. Those are the top things I notice are tempting for people to implement for budget’s sake, but in the long-term, you may lose out on potential gains.
Your team is the most important factor.
Construction, especially in the case of new construction, could be a multi-year commitment with whomever you hire. First off, make sure you trust the company. Secondly, make sure you like the company and the people you will be working with most (your project manager). Third, make sure they have reputable experience in the city where the construction will take place (especially if permitting is involved). There were so many hurdles and challenges that inevitably occurred, and through that, we are incredibly grateful for who we hired. Don’t hire, or not hire, a builder or architect solely based on their costs or fees. Take into consideration all of the above and how the company or individual would fair under imminent construction challenges. We couldn’t be happier with our decision. If you would like referrals to who we worked with, feel free to email me directly: Jessica@jhillinteriors.com
Have fun and take risks!
Even on client work, I always get a little nervous right before an installation and think things like, “Oh no, what if that wallpaper was too risky? What if that rug doesn’t go with the sofa? I should have gone more neutral on the tile to match perfectly.” However, as soon as the goods are installed, I wished I would have taken even more risks. I took a lot of risk with our home and I am so glad I did. We used some pretty funky wallpapers and did some pretty unconventional things, but it’s really what gives the wow factor. At the end of the day, it’s our home, so if we like it, that’s all that matters!