Before You Build: Part 1
Q. My husband gave me the best anniversary present ever! He finally agreed to custom build and showed me the nest egg he has been building for 10 years to surprise me! I am determined this will be a happy project to reward the entire family. I have heard some horror stories, though, and want to make sure I get off on the right foot.
What suggestions would you give me to have a successful and smooth project?—L.L.
A. I’m so happy for you! The very best plan is to have the most complete idea of your home possible before you begin. This sounds very simple, but few follow this basic advice. Typically, a home dreamer completes one stage before beginning another without consulting a designer until the house is complete. This approach yields surprise after surprise requiring an unending demand on your two most precious resources: time and money.
I would plan the home layout, seating arrangement, color schemes, and major furniture selections before building. In the same way that a cook envisions a well-functioning kitchen, home dreamers should envision the look and use of the house very thoroughly. Strive to design beauty in your functioning elements so that they deliver both style and usability. Whatever is not designed may require decorating as compensation. For instance, if you want a bright and cheery room for your morning reading, your plot of land and home plan should be selected so that the room will have at least one window receiving eastern light. If the room faces west, you could end up decorating with brighter colors and adding more artificial light than you would prefer.
Consider how many guests may be entertained at one time, at what time of day, and how formal that event might be. This information should translate into the appropriate room size in the correct relation to the entrance, powder room, and food service areas. Many plans for homes as large as 6,500 square feet contain great rooms that seat only six people comfortably. The tall ceilings and scale of the rooms make them feel grand. Typically, much later, when buying furniture, a homeowner realizes that three of the four sides of the room must be used as passageways and that furniture must be placed toward the center of the room.
No matter what events take place in the home, take care that square footage is where you need it. When planning color and style, consider the house from above as if you were a bird looking down on it. Think of it as a board game, and begin assigning colors and patterns. One decision evokes another. Where pattern is used, solid is often adjacent. Assemble a collection of photos that have at least one element that seems exactly right for you. Separate the best from the good, and leave the good behind.
Engage professionals whose interests match yours early on. Specialists will be able to spot potential issues AND opportunities in time to produce your desired results
Coming in the next issue will be Part 2, a look at the trouble spots that can occur when building, the repercussions they can have, and how to handle your project to overcome them.
Note: We welcome all questions related to home design—ask us about color, room arrangement, planning for a new home, selecting furnishings, lighting, flooring, and more. Answers provided by Tanna Espy Miller, who has operated her award winning interior design practice DesignNashville.com for 23 years. You may also contact Tanna at 615/ 601-0552.