Secrets for Design Success

Jennifer Brouwer, principal of Jennifer Brouwer Design shares her secrets for design success

“If you think its expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”  – Red Adair -

When you look around your home, is it dated, tired or perhaps both.  Have you torn hundreds of magazines to shreds in the hopes of finding the perfect picture that epitomizes your “design vision”. Still no success? Now what?

Here is a list of tips that will help you uncover the secrets to design success.

  1. What is your focus: Frequently I hear “I’m not sure where to begin”. Well, needless to say everyone’s philosophy concerning this topic is different, however, I believe the hub of the home is always the kitchen so I often start there. Next I typically address family room, the living room and finally, the dining room. I believe that you should start with the rooms that you live in first. You can tackle the more formal, less often used rooms later. Families today tend to live less formally and we are busier than ever so make sure those areas in your home that are used for day to day living are functional and pleasant to be in.
  2. Budget:  Do you know how much you would like to invest in the project? Is your budget realistic? Have you done your homework? Do you know the true cost of renovating a space? Have you consulted with a professional, a designer or contractor to find out how they can potentially save you thousands of dollars?
  3. Plan: Have you thought this through? Have you specified your selections and weighed your options? For example, have you compared the cost of prefab vs. custom fabrication, re-facing cabinets vs. new?  Make sure you gather as much information as possible and come up with a plan that is executable.
  4. Organize: Organize the list of tasks to be done and make sure you are realistic with timelines. Contact trades at least three months before you want to begin your project. Good trades are busy and you may need to push back you idea start time, but exception workmanship is worth the wait. Knowing what you want and finalizing details accordingly keeps your project on schedule. Indecisiveness and changes cause unnecessary delays. Contractors may send crews to other jobs if they have to wait for re-ordered products or for you to make final construction decisions.
  5. Preplan your Decor: Consider finish details early.  Research various floor plans and cost out each furniture arrangement. Keep in mind that some choices will be more costly than others for example, a sectional will be more expensive than a sofa but it may but more appropriate for the space. If you plan well, organize and make these decisions early on you will have the flexibility to redirect funds into other areas if the need arises.
  6. Choosing Finishes: Check out various websites to research lighting options, art work and accessories early. Each decision you make that helps to define the  finished space will keep your budget on track.
    • -Think about whether you would like wallpaper or a faux finish as a fabulous feature wall to add wow a room!
    • -Properly sized rugs, hide flooring that may require a little tender loving care
    • -Gorgeous lamps and furnishing can distract you from noticing unappealing architectural structures like small baseboards or awkward duct work boxes.
    • -Window treatments frame windows and also have several fabulous options for increasing UV protection and decreasing energy costs

7. Consider Investment Value and resale potential: Although I am a advocate of “prepping your home” for sale, staging a house, as a philosophy, disheartens me terribly. Why anyone would wait to beautify their home until they are leaving is beyond me. If you are going to spend money at least enjoy it! Love it! Reap the benefits of a newly renovated space. This being said, regardless of whether you are staying or leaving, always consider- how your renovation, modifications will effect the resale value of your home. 

Jennifer Brouwer Interior Design, author of this feature, is a full service Interior Design firm in Markham, Ontario. Jennifer would love to talk to you about designing and managing a renovation for you.

You can also find a full list of all our global mentors [ who are top professional interior designers ] on our Mentors Page.


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