We sat down with Harmony Morris, our Architectural Designer, to give you some helpful remodeling tips and advice. We discuss the importance of open dialogue between the designer and customer, easily overlooked details in home design, common remodeling mistakes, our preferred platform for storing remodeling ideas, and much more!
What advice do you give to homeowners during the first home visit? What are the first few things you go over with the client to make the design process smoother?
We spend a lot of time getting to know our clients and their families so we have a clear understanding of what their needs are. For example, a client may tell us they need an addition because their kitchen is too small, but in reality, they have all the square footage they need; it just needs to be reimagined and organized a little differently. Open dialogue with our clients is the cornerstone of our process as we guide our clients toward the best solution for their needs and budget. It sets the pace for a smooth design experience.
What are some key details of home design or the design process that most homeowners overlook?
Two words: Spacial. Awareness. Unless you are submerged in the work of designing structure and spaces, it is easy to overlook. Human factors are the study of where our bodies are in space and how much room we need to perform certain duties. In a kitchen, it includes taking into consideration the swing of the cabinet doors, opening the dishwasher, and keeping the flow of traffic away from your busiest spaces. In the bathroom, it may mean thinking of the space needed to towel off, or the height of the pendant lights over the vanity. Managing these subtle details can impact the user experience and thus our clients’ daily lives.
Are there common mistakes homeowners make that make life difficult for the design team? How do you avoid these?
One thing we often see our clients struggle with is the timing of their projects. With a well-developed design process, it can take upwards of 8-12 weeks to work through the details of their design. The initial goals for the renovation tend to change as our teams work with our clients and new possibilities are explored. We prefer to tackle these changes during the design phase so we can move in and get it done in the most timely fashion during the construction phase. Occasionally our clients will eagerly give the initial design their approval because they are excited by what they see. We encourage our clients to be intentional in their considerations and talk it over with their partners and families. Inevitably, new ideas will bubble to the surface that ends up improving the design a great deal!
Do you have a preferred website/resource you tell people to use to collect and share inspiration?
Pinterest is our favorite idea-sharing platform. Images from all over the internet can be saved to specific boards (i.e. - kitchen cabinets, flooring ideas, lighting options…) It is really helpful for our design team to see what appeals to our clients so we can guide them best through the selection process.
What advice do you give homeowners that don’t know where to start/don’t know what they want?
Usually, by the time we get called into a client’s home, they’ve already identified the issue with their current space plan. When they aren’t sure how to remedy the issue, our first call to action is to offer suggestions and ideas to help guide them toward the possibilities. A good, collaborative brainstorm session with them tends to reveal their true thoughts and feelings on the matter and provides some clarity. In addition, we don’t shy away from having frank discussions about the general cost to help them feel as though they’re moving in a direction that makes them comfortable.
Anything else aspiring remodelers should know?
We are not surprised to find that often, our clients are largely unaware of the actual cost of renovations. With the prevalence of televised home improvement shows, our clients feel empowered to make changes and are eager to move forward. Unfortunately, they are shocked when they see the cost of materials and labor. I would encourage any of our prospective clients to look into their options for financing their investment. Once a client has a firm understanding of their budget, it makes the design process much more focused and aids the design team in offering solutions that suit the needs of the client, as well as their style!