Design centers can be as large as a warehouse or as small as the builder’s model home. Their size doesn’t matter, but the choices you make there do. After all, you will be living with that subway tile backsplash for years to come. Navigating design centers can be overwhelming, but proper preparation before your appointment will reduce stress and ensure you make the choices that are right for you.
Create a Mood Board
Think of a mood board as a style blueprint. This is how you ensure that your choices create the vibe you want in each room of your new home. Mood boards include photos, Pinterest boards, paint chips, fabric swatches and more. Search Houzz, Architectural Digest and grandma’s attic — whatever speaks to you design-wise. See what the common threads are. Do you gravitate to certain colors, patterns and aesthetics? Finally, make sure everything you’ve gathered is portable as you will be taking it to your appointment.
Think About How You Live
We utilize our homes in different ways. Some people love to entertain, others just want to curl up with a good book in front of the fire. How you imagine living in your new home will influence your design decisions. Think about how your current home could be improved. You will want to add those things to your wish list.
Set a Budget
If you want to deviate from the standard choices, expect to pay. Decide which rooms are the most important. Don’t scrimp on the things that are important to you or you will quickly become dissatisfied with your new home. It’s usually recommended to budget 10 percent of the base price of your home for upgrades, so for a $200,0000 home, you would want to budget an extra $20,000 for upgrades.
Why would you price renovations? Because you may want to renovate at some point, and you need to know how easy it will be. Most people understand that structural changes such as adding a study room is best handled by your builder. However, pulling up a tile floor to install a hardwood floor later might be more expensive than you think, in which case rolling the cost of that floor into your mortgage makes more sense.
Think About Value
If you have limited funds for upgrades, opt for the ones that increase the value of your home. Your Realtor is a good person to consult. He or she knows what home buyers are looking for and can steer you in the right direction. In general, upgrades to the kitchen, flooring and primary suite retain their value.
When you get to the design center be candid with your designer. Tell them your budget, show them your mood board. Be prepared to ask them to price multiple options for you. Ask if you can take pictures of the design choices you’ve made so you don’t wake up in a cold sweat wondering if the paint color matches the countertop in the kitchen. Ask if you can pay for another meeting in addition to what your builder gives you. If you are overwhelmed, it can be useful to go home, think some more and come back ready to start again.