4 Tips for Maneuvering a Home Design Studio

by Shea Homes on June 1, 2015

Design-Your-Dream-HomeImagine — you’ve just purchased a new home and it’s time to start designing the house of your dreams. While some of us welcome the idea of building from a blank slate, for others, the design process can be a daunting task. At Shea Homes, we strive to make this process an enjoyable one with the help of our professional Design Studio Team.

Shea Homes designers guide buyers through the design process by asking all of the critical questions that will help you create a unique style for your home. Design Counselor Jaclyn Burrage says, “We want buyers to love where they live. We want them to feel like they were a part of the process and that they have their signature on their home.” Shea sets up a series of meetings where buyers work hand-in-hand with the design team. What happens thereafter is somewhat organic.

According to Design Counselor Holly Sanford, “It’s a very fluid process. When the buyers come to the Design Studio they see something they like and [the appointment] takes on a life of its own.” Burrage recalls buyers coming into the studio knowing that they wanted white cabinets, or falling in love with specific flooring in the studio, creating a sort of design “domino effect,” and from there, the design concept “would start to evolve.”

It’s easy to get swept away in the plethora of options and decisions to make your house your home, so we’ve prepared a handy graphic of things to consider before your first design studio meeting. Just click on the image below and print the worksheet out for yourself.


Tips to prepare!

1.    Get Inspired

Like most creative processes, it’s always helpful to start with some inspiration. Burrage notes, “We love having pictures. More and more people are coming to us with idea books and Pinterest on their phones. Then, we help them tailor these ideas to their home, lifestyle, and budget.”

Sanford says to ask yourself, “What have I seen that I really like?” And, just as importantly, “What is it that I don’t like?” Home design and decorating sites like Houzz.com can be extremely helpful in determining the look you are going for. Check out this and other design blogs and create a Pinterest board to help define the look you are going for. [Click to tweet this planning tip!]

2. Know Your Budget

“The budget is not just a collection of numbers, but an expression of our values and aspirations.”
– Jacob Lew, Treasury Secretary
[Click here to tweet this home design budget reminder!]

First and foremost, it’s important to understand where your newly purchased home is in the Shea construction process. This will determine what design opportunities are available. Sanford and Burrage recommend consulting the community representative to understand your unique model, what’s already included, and what elements you have the flexibility to change before getting started. Using your inspiration pieces, create a cohesive list of the design elements you think you would want in your dream home. From there, start to rank which elements are important to you. For instance, think to yourself, “I spend a lot of time cooking, so I definitely want a killer kitchen that has high-end appliances and countertops.” Asking yourself these questions, will help you prioritize your list.

3. Understand Your Lifestyle

Our lifestyle choices have many implications on what an ideal home means to us. The design team guides buyers through these questions, helping them think through these considerations and making design recommendations based on their answers.

Some considerations to think about before your design studio meeting may include:

  • Do you cook often?
  • Where do you spend most of your time in your home?
  • Do you have pets?
  • Do you have kids?
  • Will this be your primary residence, or vacation home?

Burrage explains, “A young couple with children and a large dog may not end up happy with a high-gloss hardwood floor in a dark finish, as it will show scratches far more prominently than an oil finish, hand scraped, or highly distressed hardwood floor.” She continues, “If a buyer spends a lot of time in the kitchen, or suffers from arthritis, we may suggest flooring products, like cork or hardwood, as it’s more resilient and softer underfoot than a ceramic tile or stone.”

4. Determine Your Home Maintenance Threshold

Maintenance is a major consideration when it comes to designing your home. Burrage gives an example, ”Someone who is not willing to clean their kitchen countertops during and after each meal preparation would be a better candidate for a manufactured stone such as Caesarstone or One Quartz. I would highly discourage a marble surface, as it’s very prone to etching, staining, and scratching.” While the design team knows the in-and-outs of the various countertop surfaces, flooring and other housing materials that can withstand the most wear and tear, what’s important for the buyer to understand, is if they will commit to the upkeep.

Once questions regarding lifestyle, budget, maintenance and the type of look have been addressed, then the real fun begins. “When we get into the creative stuff, like flooring and paint, that’s when it gets a lot more interactive because we are playing with samples and figuring out what their hopes are for their house,” Burrage divulges. If you are one who struggles with visualizing how the various design elements come together, then fear no longer! Sanford explains, “We build the entire look with samples at the design studio – the flooring, the countertop, the tiles, the cabinets – we layer them all together to show buyers the cohesive look.”

There you have it. What started out as a blank canvas has now become a home design masterpiece. Do you have tips for preparing for home design? Share them below.

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