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How to Mentally Prepare for a Big Home Project. Expert Interior Design Tips for a Smoother Build and More Authentic Home.

authentic living construction process design May 25, 2023

Hello and welcome to Interior design therapy sessions with me, Britney Johnson the owner of B Design and creator of Design YOUR Dream Home, The Ultimate Guide to the Interior Design and Construction Process of Your New Home or Renovation.  As an expert interior designer with over 14 years of experience, I am bringing my strategies, advice and stories that I gained from my years at the design table, on the construction site and a general attitude of do-it-yourselfness to help prepare you for the home construction process.  To not only survive but thrive and end up with a home you absolutely love.  

Because this is hard.  A lot of people dream about building a home, envisioning their own before and after but no one prepares you or at least shows you how to get through that messy middle - the stress, the decisions, how construction actually works, the language they are using, the process you are going to go through.  It’s a whole new world and a lot of people don’t make it to the ‘after’ photo because they were not prepared for the middle.  

This blog post goes out to all who have struggled before, 

  • who gave up on a project before it even started because it was immediately overwhelming.
  • who are putting off starting because you don’t even know where to begin.
  • who tried to be authentic but got steamrolled by the construction process and ended up with a home that doesn’t feel like you.
  • You are not alone and you can definitely do this.

As the construction industry ramps up for the season, this is my life line to anyone about to be swept away by their home construction project.  No matter what phase of construction you are in, and especially if you have yet to start, start here!  Get your mindset right in the beginning and you can tackle anything. 


TIP 1 BE HONEST.  Brutally honest.  With yourself and your team, about what you need in a home and then make decisions based on those needs only.

I don’t care what your neighbors have, what your mother-in-law thinks you need or what trends are in or out.  WHY are you doing this?  Take the time to evaluate yourself and your life so that you truly know what you NEED in a home and what it needs to do for you.  It’s easy to get swept away by all the things you could do when you start a home construction project but if you base your decisions around core wants and needs, the field narrows and it’s easier to make decisions.  

The construction process is an expensive process, don’t add anything you don’t really need and spend the money on the items that will make the most difference in your life.  

Focus on the function of the space and how it can better support the life you are trying to live.  I want to know the problem you are trying to solve.

Instead of, ‘I want a master closet like I saw on Cribs’ (I am totally dating myself with that reference!) the design statement might be ‘I need a closet that can organize 100 pairs of shoes, I need 30 easily accessible (seasonal rotation) and I want display space for my top 10.’

That is your job throughout this process, to come to the table as the expert on what you need and what makes you happy so your team can make that happen.  We all know how to do our jobs - interior design, architecture, plumbing, concrete, whatever - you need to do your job so we can do ours better.


TIP 2 FIND CLARITY.  Get clear on your vision.  Don’t be afraid to really lean into what you like.  Your home should be undeniably you!

This step is my favorite.  Binge!  Dive deep into the home design world and find your inspiration.  Take the time to see what’s out there.  Don’t just rely on your salesperson or contractor to make suggestions.  There’s a whole world of possibilities!  Houses don’t just design themselves, somebody’s gotta do it.  Someone’s going to decide how your kitchen flows, what flooring to put down, the handles on your doors - it should be you.

How do you do this?  My preferred method is Pinterest, but I also read design magazines, watch design shows, go on home tours - all the things.  Wherever you feel comfortable, spend some serious time looking and refining your authentic style.  It takes time to find what you are looking for, once in a while you find it immediately, but usually it’s a lot of looking here and there, trying this word or phrase and that one.  

One tip when searching on Pinterest is when you find something you like or even kind of like, make sure you scroll down and look at ‘more like this’ you are probably going to like some of those too.  And down the rabbit hole you go.

Once you start pinning things you like it starts pulling up similar items, which is nice except if you go down the wrong path pretty soon it’s only showing you things down this wrong path.  

If you need help, my Pinterest page is and it is ripe for the picking!  It is well stocked with inspiration I have gathered throughout the years.  This is where I save things for clients or because it’s a really interesting idea or excellent example of good design.  So if you need a place to start, that’s a good one.  You can also follow design magazines, designers or retail stores you like to start tailoring your feed.  

When you know what you want, stop.  You don’t need to spend energy looking around forever.  You don’t need to see every option possible.  Reminder, this is a marathon!  Conserve your energy and decision space because you are going to run out of it periodically throughout this process.  

The vision you have for your home, the way you foresee your space is exactly right and no one can tell you otherwise.  Do not feel like you have to do it the way everyone else does or ‘the way it’s always been done’.  This is your space, your dream and your life.  Your home should be undeniably you and only you can create it.  Only you have the vision.  It’s worth taking the time to get clear on what that looks like.


TIP 3 CONFIDENCE.  Remember that you are the boss.  You get what you want.

You’ve spent the time thinking about your project and what it is going to take to support the life you are trying to live.  You know what you like and you’ve found your team.  Now stay strong through construction!  

This is where a lot of visions get lost and designs become mediocre.  ‘Are you sure?’ with that questioning face will get asked a million times and your reserve might falter.  I get it, it’s hard to be different.  You will get push back all throughout this process.  People will constantly try to get you to be more ‘normal’ or cookie cutter because that is easy.  Easy to build and easy to understand in general.  Be confident in your choices and your direction, it can be hard to stand up for yourself and your dream but it’s worth it.  

Because it’s even harder to not be yourself!  All those tradespeople and friends whose advice you think you care about, they will leave and you have to live in this space.  Looking at those decisions.  Hopefully it’s not at the compromises you made or the decisions you regret.  

Set yourself up to stare at a home you love.  Relish in the beauty you created, the function you designed.  This is your dream home and your dream life.  You get what you want!

Designing a home is a transformative experience.  You are going to ask yourself things you have never thought about before and make decisions that will literally shape the world around you.  It’s a lot.  

When you base all of your decisions on the life you want to live, NOT the latest magazine spread or hot housing trend, not because your designer wants to, your subcontractor doesn’t want to or it’s better than your neighbors. The path is easy and decisions are obvious.   

It’s when we get caught up worrying about what other people think and putting their priorities before our own, that’s when you end up with a mismatched home that doesn’t feel like you. 

There are hundreds of ways to design a home, the decisions you make and paths you will go down are so unique.  It’s really worth doing yourself.  That vision you have when you close your eyes, that’s there for a reason.  That’s where your soul wants to be.  You are in charge.  Give yourself the home you have been dreaming of.

Some of you might feel like you need more guidance and I totally get it.  Building a new home is no joke and all those reality shows that make it look so easy, showing this beautiful before and after, but none of the messy middle, they are doing everyone a disservice by not showing you how to get through the hard part.  That’s all the important stuff!  

To help, I created Design YOUR Dream Home, the Ultimate Guide to the Interior Design and Construction Process.  Not only do I dive deeper into the mental game that we touched on today, I will also walk you through floor planning details, material deep dives, outlining the construction process, what you need to be aware of as the homeowner, where to put your energy and how to survive this process with your mental state and relationships intact and a home you absolutely love.  I am here to help if you need it.

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