portrait young woman with board HELP

3 Ways to Get Out of Your Design Rut, and Into the Design Phase Fast Lane!

So, you’ve finally decided to start your remodel…now what? The different phases of a remodel can be confusing and leave you lingering for a sense of direction. During the design process, homeowners often need assistance, from design ideas for small projects…to hiring a designer for kitchen
cabinet layout or an architect for bigger projects.

Some contractors provide design help or drawings as part of the remodel and readily give their ideas and suggestions. They may bring the product samples to your home and help coordinate all of the materials so you can view them in one location. However, this is not the norm. Most contractors will give you a price with allowances and expect you to find the materials which could add cost to your allowable budget.

I have met with clients who told me that many Contractors only want to work with what they know best and stay within their comfort zone. Some may not want to install the glass mosaic tiles that brighten up a shower or backsplash as it takes too much time and effort.

Other Contractors may not know about the newest products and installation processes. It takes additional time (thus, money) for the average Contractor to work through all the particulars outside of their comfort zone.

There is another way to start a project needing design help…it is called Design/Build.

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Design/Build is a process of keeping all the elements of a remodel under one house. There are many benefits to working with a Design/Build firm, as they work directly with you and coordinate all the elements, from designing the layout, presenting cabinet and door styles, discussing options, such as colors and materials and working within your desired budget.

What are the different Design Phases? And How Do I Work through Them?

When You Need a Designer

Female Interior Designer With Two Clients At Office
Typically, a remodel consists of several different design phases. Depending on the scope and type of remodel, or if you are uncertain about the direction of your remodel, you may need to bring on a designer. Some contractors (Design/Build firms) provide their design expertise and time to help you select your materials. A designer will eliminate the stress and ease you into the decision process when selecting countertops, lighting, fixtures, flooring, and much more.

The designer should ask you questions you have not considered and stretch your thinking. You want someone who understands you and relates well with you. A good designer will design with your lifestyle and dreams in mind. They will bring a balance of safety and functionality to the
project. To get the most out of your remodel, let the designer
know what is most important to you. When you consider working
with a designer, present your main requirements and their
order of importance.

_ Appearance _ Up-to-Date
_ Ready for Resale _ Design
_ Additional Space _ Practicality
_ Repair a Problem _ Make Room More
_ Accessible

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Without the help of a coordinator, you often don’t get the same unity as working with a Design/Build Contractor. There is no one person or firm accountable for the project, the design, and your budget. When you do not have plans, such as for structural changes, cabinet design, countertop materials, flooring and backsplash, or plumbing fixtures, help is needed.

The Design/Build concept of keeping all the elements under one roof, including accountability, budget, and desired outcome, saves the headaches of trying to work with several professionals with varying ideas.

Design Phase Expectations

It is very important to establish a connection with any professional brought on to assist you with your remodel. During the meeting, I create trust and convey an understanding of what is important to the homeowner. When we finish the first meeting, I’ll describe the next steps and schedule an appointment to bring in sub-contractors or discuss the proposal.

Usually, the next appointment is scheduled for one to two weeks after the first appointment. This is necessary, as I need time to gather information from my sub-contractors and prepare the proposal. It’s important for all decision-makers to be at this next meeting. If one is missing, usually the project is at a standstill, because the missing partner has unanswered questions.

Throughout the initial meetings, it’s common to feel a bit overwhelmed with all the choices and decisions to be made. Here are some questions to ask during the design phase:


  • Will the electrical or plumbing be sufficient?
  • Will the new (windows, siding, trim, etc.) match the existing?
  • What are the details of the (windows, doors, cabinets, etc.)?
  • What colors work best with my current (colors, design, and furniture)?
  • Will I need an architect?
  • What restrictions will we uncover (HOA, city restrictions, historical district, etc.)?
  • Are there any code requirements needed in updating my home (GFCI, smoke detectors, etc.)?

A Good Design is at the Heart of Your Remodel

The design phase is important and deserves adequate attention. You want whatever design you choose to be the best it can be, as you’ll be living with the results for a long time. Therefore, don’t let anyone rush you through the design process. Make your choices thoughtfully and you’ll be pleased with your remodel for years to come.