Design Studio

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 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.


To better prepare our customers for their design studio appointments, we have recently joined the popular, online platform called Houzz! So what is Houzz, you ask? Houzz is the leading platform for home remodeling and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start of finish. Essentially, we’d call it the realistic Pinterest for new homeowners. You CAN get the features you see in our photos! Here’s how:

On Houzz, users are able to create their own ideabook, which is a place for users to store and categorize their favorite photos by style, trend, color and room! You can flip through photos of all our communities and models, in addition to photos of other Houzz users’ (aka HOUZZERS) Shea Homes; read questions submitted by other HOUZZERS and responses answered by Shea Homes professionals; read thorough reviews and even write your own review about us! Plus much, much more!

Do we have your attention? If so, sign up for a Houzz account now! Here is a chart of the quick and easy steps!


To look at this graphic in more detail, click here: “How to HOUZZ

We are also so excited to announce a new feature that we will be launching on our Houzz profile in the very near future! Here is a simple outline of what you can expect:

The Idea:

Utilize our SheaHomesAZ HOUZZ account to aid buyers in selecting their personal interior design style based on 5 style categories predetermined internally.

The Program:

The main idea was to keep new buyers excited about their new home. So HOUZZ will be used as a tool for homeowners to look through options we offer based on what other homeowners selected. We have made it easy for them to discover their personal style because we categorize the homeowner photos for them.

Additionally, homeowners can see the name of the option as well. While review the photos if they see an option they love, they can write it down and bring that with them during their Design Studio Appt.

How will it work?:

We will upload images of completed homes, prior to key release, showcasing the home’s style. We would like to showcase cabinets, countertops, flooring, and grout. Therefore, the best images will be of the main hub of the home (i.e. kitchen/great room). The images will be placed in their corresponding design style, based on that buyers design studio selections.

Prospective/New Buyers:

Prospective/New buyer(s) will have the option to view the Ideabooks on HOUZZ to better determine their own personal style based on options that we offer. This can aid in keeping the buyer(s) excited and help set expectations for the Design Studio appointment.


The ideabooks that we will offer are based on popular house styles, such as Contemporary, Eclectic, Modern, Traditional and Transitional. We will provide links to these ideabooks in the near future so that you can look through photos and get an idea of what designs you like best for your Shea Home!

To learn more about HOUZZ and/or to get a better understanding of what it is, check it out at

P.S. Please follow follow Shea Homes AZ on HOUZZ, and feel free to write a review about us, at!