Stop Wondering! How to move your home project from inspiration to action.

construction process design Jul 18, 2022

Today I want to talk about getting your next home project started.  I see a lot of people stuck in the inspiration and dreaming stage but afraid to take the next step into making it a reality.  Why?  Mainly because the next step requires action outside of sitting on the couch Pinteresting or organizing digital mood boards.  

There is nothing wrong with that phase and it’s absolutely necessary but sometimes we stay here a little too long.  We create doubts in our head about why it won’t work.  We assume it’s over budget or not possible.  We get stuck on details that are ahead of where we need to be.  We spend a lot of time wondering.  We’ve all done it.  It’s not a great place to be.  

Have you ever talked yourself out of a bathroom remodel because you couldn’t decide what grout color you wanted?  “If I can’t decide on a grout color how can I decide on anything?!”  You haven’t selected anything else, of course you don’t know what grout color you want!   

Spent money on a lackluster update? “I am only going to do a small project, there is no way we could afford to change anything”  Are you sure?  I totally understand having a budget but have you priced anything out yet or are you just assuming?

When you see inspiration that you like, do you immediately assume “My house could never look like that.”  Why not?  Why not you?!  You are worth the life you are dreaming of.  You owe it to yourself to make your dreams come true.  That’s what dreams are for and that’s the point of life.

We are afraid to make a decision, lost in all the details because we don’t have clear answers.  So let’s get some.  What’s the next step?  How do you make a home construction plan out of screenshots and pinterest boards?  I am going to show you the way.

  1. Sort through your inspiration.  Look through everything a few times and see if you can find a common theme or style.  Get rid of any that no longer work or excite you.  You will have plenty of inspiration so be ruthless!  
    1. Take notes so you remember what it is you like about each one.
      1. the lights in this one.  
      2. The cabinet color of that one.  
      3. The general vibe of this one. etc. 
    2. The goal of this step is to get organized and clear about what you want to accomplish.  It doesn’t need to be a material list with all the details but you do need to have an idea of the mission.  What is the end goal?  
      1. An updated kitchen with this type of layout, this cabinet color and these lights.
      2. An updated exterior that feels more modern but is true to the style of house with low maintenance landscaping similar to inspiration images x, y, and z.
    3. Whatever it is, the hardest part is clarifying the goal.  Once you know what you want to do, the rest is easy!  
    4. People feel guilty spending time in this phase - let me shout it out for those in the back WHAT YOU WANT MATTERS!  If you go through all of this work to end up with a project that doesn’t solve a problem, make your life easier or make you happy - what’s the point?!
  1. Start with the biggest aspect of your to-do list or the thing you know you want the most and research it like crazy.  Measure your space, tape it out on the floor, get estimated pricing, paint samples or anything that will help you move your thoughts forward.  These decisions are easier because you have the most vision for them and once you begin the decision making process, one thing leads to another and it gets easier.  One decision informs the next.
    1. Example: You might have a lot of things you want to tweak in your home but the kitchen is the biggest project - start there.  
      1. Take a rough measurement of your space and a few pictures to a cabinet shop, have them create a rough plan for you, pick potential finishes and get an estimate.  Don’t spend too much time on it, you don’t need every decision to be exactly right but you do need to know what this will roughly cost and/or if your idea will even work.  Once you have that information you can make an informed decision on how to move forward.
      2. Don’t be afraid to be honest with the salespeople at showrooms.  It’s ok to say you are super early in the process or getting estimates.  Most people will respect your fact finding mission and hope to get your business when you are ready, if they don’t, they are not the right place for you.
      3. Because you are on a fact finding mission, be cognizant of their time as well.  A basic, rough estimate is typically enough to go on until you are actually ready to make decisions.  No need to waste anyone’s time on details that will probably change.  This is to decide ‘yes, we can afford this, let’s keep moving forward’ or ‘no, it’s super out of our budget, let’s rethink some things’
      4. If it’s the appliance package you know you want, that’s a great place to start and/or to bring with you to the cabinet meeting as well. 
  1. Example: You are updating the curb appeal of your home and you know you want it to be blue - start there.  
    1. Look to your inspiration images for guidance.  Find all the blue houses, what makes them different?  Look at the trim style and color and how that changes the look (use a paint visualizer tool to really compare, I like Sherwin Williams).  What sort of accents are on the houses you like?  Stone, brick, columns, gables, etc.  What sort of lighting did they have?  Landscaping?  Garage doors?  These are details we don’t always notice but they are small parts that add up to the whole, so start paying attention.  It’s really hard to make a decision about something you have no thoughts about.
    2. Walk through building supply showrooms for brick, stone, exterior doors, garage doors, beams, etc.  Landscape nurseries and showrooms for ground lighting, boulders, pavers and plants.  Bring in measurements and pictures of your space and sometimes get free professional help right then and there.  If you come prepared, people are usually happy to answer questions. 
  1. Find the right professional for your biggest job and they will start you down the path. 
    1. Back to the ‘remodeling your kitchen’ example 
      1. Head back to your favorite cabinet maker or showroom.  Look at the initial concept and make adjustments as necessary.  Does your idea actually work?  Can you fit all the things you wanted?  Do you need to move a wall or add a window?  Is it as big as you thought or as small as you were afraid of?  Now you know.
      2. Work through your options until it’s exactly right for you.   With pricing and drawings in hand, now is the time to fine tune your design.  How much do you need that fancy hood?  How committed are you to that coffee bar?  These are discussions that matter and again, they are a lot easier now that you have all the information.
      3. Let me tell you right now.  Every project changes and a lot of them don’t move forward.  Don’t feel like you have to have everything figured out before you seek out a professional. 
      4. The cabinet drawings can inform what else needs to happen in your project.  Walls moving?  New flooring?  Changing electrical?  Moving plumbing?  That’s your next list of research questions.
  1. Updating your curb appeal example 
    1. Are you painting the house yourself?  Head to your favorite paint store, they can help you calculate how much paint you need and any other supplies necessary.  
    2. Hiring a painter?  They will tell you which type of paint they like to use and might even have color recommendations (especially for white).  They will also let you know if you need to have any repairs done prior to painting or they might include that in their package.  
    3. Having the house professionally resided?  Pick colors from whatever lines your company installs.  They will often need blocking and accessories for different accents and so will begin the discussion of exterior lighting styles, door bells, soffits, house numbers, etc. and can guide you through those decisions.
    4. More of a landscape update?  Drive through neighborhoods and ask who did the landscaping that you like.  Stop into greenhouses and nurseries that carry bulk exterior materials - mulch, pavers, retaining walls, etc.  They often have an installation crew or work closely with landscape contractors.  Larger nurseries will often create custom plant plans and a discount on bulk purchases.
  1. Follow the golden trail of subcontractors.  
    1. Once you find professionals that you like working with, look to them for recommendations.  They are working next to other trades people everyday and can usually speak to their work style, cleanliness and follow up.  It takes a village to build a home and they typically have people they prefer working with.  
    2. Often I will ask for recommendations on products, companies and installs as well.  Not necessarily “do you like this tile?” but “have you installed this pattern before?  Are there any issues I should be aware of?”  or “Have you had warranty or repair issues with this faucet or manufacturer?”  Installers often have strong opinions and rightfully so, they see the reoccurring issues, the companies that are a pain to deal with and the ones that are great.  Go with great when you can.
      1. I was working on my own house flip and I learned this lesson real quick.  The first person I hired was more of a handyman and he was not great.  He was the kind of person you hire if you need a quick fix and you don’t really care if it’s done right.  He recommended the plumber.  By the time I realized I didn’t like the handyman I was already working with the plumber, who I was also now not fond of for reasons of his own.  I got a recommendation for an electrician from someone else and he was everything I was hoping for.  When talking to him later, I asked if he knew the plumber and what he thought of him.  He said they had worked together before and he would NOT have recommended him.  The plumber was notoriously behind, messy and he tried to make off with a haul of copper pipe out of my walls without reimbursing me for their value, acting like he was ‘doing me a favor’ by disposing of it for me.  At the height of copper prices!  Future recommendations from my new favorite electrician were always spot on because he expected the tradespeople around him to operate at his level of craftsmanship.  (I knew he was my kind of person from the beginning because I ran into him at one of my favorite hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurants shortly after our initial meeting.  A man with good taste.)

In the world of technology and service there is no need to wonder.  If you have a dream and you think maybe you want to make it happen, spend a little time figuring out.  Maybe it won’t work out.  Maybe it will.  Maybe you can make your dreams come true?  Why not do a little research and see if it’s possible?!  And if it’s not, now you have freed up the space for your next dream.  Get busy applying your energy to projects that ARE going to move forward. 

If that seems way too simple to be possible, I am here to walk with you every step of the way.  That’s what an interior design therapy session with me is.  Clarifying your goals, creating an action plan for your home project and answering your questions until you feel confident you can do this, because you absolutely can!  This is your space, your dream and your project.  I am here to guide you through the interior design and construction process, helping you turn that dream into a reality.  

Book a session today!

Don't miss a thing!

Discussions, deep dives and interior design advice delivered to your inbox. 

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.