What I Learned Building a Home as an Interior Designer

What I Learned Building a Home as a Professional Interior Designer

beige hardwood flooring in a light blue bedroom with beige area rug and beadspread

Posted on September 7, 2021 by

It’s time you finally get to start building and designing your own home. You dive into Pinterest, surround yourself with swatches, and start dreaming about that first time you walk in the door to your dream home with your family. No pressure, right? Do not worry! We are sharing the insights of a professional interior designer, who in the middle of building and designing her own home, to help you achieve your building daydreams!

H.J. Martin and Son Interior Designer, Caitlyn VanBoxel, is in the thick of her home build, and she has learned a lot from being in the customer’s point of view. Here are the biggest takeaways Caitlyn wants you to know, no matter if you are building, redecorating or remodeling.

Create a relationship with your builder

While Caitlyn has the perspective of an interior designer from a flooring company, she found that without creating relationships with the builder and their preferred subcontractors, it will be a lot more stressful.

“It takes a village to build a house,” Caitlyn said. “You need to use the people around you when making choices on everything from paint to lighting.”

How do you do this? Research different building contractors, have introductory meetings and see who you connect with the best before getting started with the project. Read online reviews, look at their certifications, visit their websites, check out past customer experiences on Houzz, and definitely talk to friends and family about their recommendations.

Vet Your Subcontractors

Most builders will offer you a preferred subcontractor list for you to choose from for aspects of the build including cabinets, flooring, countertops, lighting, electrical, and plumbing. Builders will tell you their preferred vendors, because they have created good working relationships with them, and will likely give you a better experience. If you trust your builder, you can trust their recommendations.

It is ok if one of their subcontractors just isn’t a fit. Vet the subs with meetings, talk budget outlines, and look through their social media, websites, and Google reviews. You deserve the best fit for your home, so make sure you’re happy with the people you’re hiring. Once you are confident in your builder and subcontractors, you’ll be bringing them into the heart of your home vision and desires.

It’s never too early to make decisions

Anything can happen during the building process, materials and products can be delayed, installation schedules can be pushed, the weather can change, and so on. Caitlyn’s rule of thumb, make decisions early.

“I found when I started making my choices on flooring, or cabinets or countertops, the bigger items, the better the build fell into place,” Caitlyn said.

The best way to manage this is to communicate with your builder and take your own notes, so plans and decisions don’t get misremembered. Don’t be afraid to make a phone call, check in on the installations, and email your team. Talking about their schedules, what they need from you, and when, will make all the difference on both ends.

Your team is here to help you make these decisions too, so do not be afraid to ask for help.

Determine Your Priorities

While Instagram can be “goals” for your home, it can be easy to get sucked into extremely high-priced home features. When considering your budget on your project, think of a few “non-negotiable” things you have to have, and then consider where you can cut back on cost/quality to make space for them in your finances.

Cabinets, siding, flooring, lighting, and furniture should reflect your favorite “permanent” styles. Paint color, art, decor, rugs, and smaller items can be easily changed up when a new trend emerges that you want to try at a much lower cost.

“Personally, I wanted my permanent fixtures to be simple and classic to last for years,” Caitlyn said. “I can replace things like wallpaper and decor at a smaller price and know that whatever style I want to create will work with my more classic furniture, flooring, and bigger ticket items.”

Do not be afraid to ask your builder and subcontractors questions about options, budget-friendly swaps, and what will work best in your home.

The rule of thumb for Caitlyn is, if she is hiring a professional for a certain job, she’s going to talk to them about every aspect of their expertise to better ensure sound decision-making.

“Researching on Google and Pinterest will likely not address all those little things,” Caitlyn said. “Shopping at a big box store is not going to get you the expertise of an established business, either. Lean on the pros to help you do it right the first time.”

Caitlyn has a better understanding of her customers, as designing a home is a marriage of excitement and stress, and decision-phobia is real.

“I want all customers to know that the pros on their project want them to be happy, and I believe that communicating and consulting about your vision as much as possible will make a world of difference,” Caitlyn said.

H.J. Martin and Son is committed on every level to exceeding all customer’s expectations on their home remodels and new homes. We start every project with a free design consultation and really dig deep into your vision. To book an appointment, visit this link. To learn more about Caitlyn, visit her design profile here or call our main line to reach our team in Green Bay or Neenah at 920-494-3461.

*Photos used are all from Caitlyn’s home design inspiration and are captioned with their original source if one was available.

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