A 9-Step Roadmap to Designing Your Own Home
March 30, 2021 Cristina Villalón
Image of the Beach Front Residence living room designed by AD&V.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR |  Cristina Villalón is the Co-Founder and Lead Designer at Álvarez-Díaz & Villalón. She directs both the Interior Design and Visual Merchandising divisions while overseeing all decisions made on a day-to-day basis at the firm.

Even if you’re a designer, designing a home for yourself can be an absorbing challenge!

Here’s a roadmap and things to consider as you undertake this ambitious project:

1. CREATE A LOOK & FEEL INSPIRATION BOARD

Even if you’re a design junkie that spends all your free time looking through décor magazines, it’s important to define a design direction for your home before you begin. You want to be able to come up with a cohesive design. Ironically, the more you’ve seen, the harder it will be for you to nail down what you want your home to be. Word of advice? What brings you joy and peace?

Create your own board by gathering colors, materials, fabrics, textures, and design ideas that make you smile. Put them all together and ask yourself? Does this combination energize and make me happy? If it does, you’re on the right track! You can get inspiration from online platforms like Pinterest, Houzz, and Instagram or do it the old-fashioned way by simply cutting out ideas from magazines.

2. DEFINE YOUR STYLE

Next, define your style. Choose an interior style that aligns with what you want your home to feel like. Tropical, contemporary, classic, modern, a mixture of these? Think of your travels and places you’ve visited. Did you ever stay at a hotel that you wish you could have stayed in forever? What was it like? Did you photograph it? Dig those pictures up!

If you’re working with an interior designer, make sure you let him or her know what your design vision is and what your preferences are. A picture is worth a thousand words so try to communicate with them visually. The more you show them, the more effective they’ll be at helping you bring your vision to life.

3. SET A BUDGET

Decide how much you’re willing to invest on designing your home. A detailed item list will help you make some educated estimates. Be warned: It will always be more than you anticipate!   Determine what your spending priorities are and based on those, make a list of the things you’re willing splurge on and the items you would rather save on. A professional designer can help you make the most of your budget. Consider it an investment, not a cost.

4. HIRE A LICENSED DESIGNER

Choose a licensed interior designer to help you bring your vision to life. Interior designers will help you acquire the right furnishings, know and have worked with many subcontractors, and ultimately will help you save time and money. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not legal for someone to identify as an interior designer without a license to do so.

When sourcing an interior designer for your home design, make sure that they are a registered licensed professional. All interior designers at AD&V are licensed and ready to provide creative, sustainable, and inspiring design solutions.

5. UNDERSTAND THE SPACE YOU HAVE & YOUR NEEDS

Once again, a professional designer can help you think about and come up with creative solutions to your living needs. Make sure you communicate what your functional needs are. Do you love to entertain? Do you have pets? How much storage space do you need? These are just some of the considerations that will guide how your home will be furnished. The first component of a good design is a good furniture plan. A good furniture plan considers how spaces will be used and maximizes their functionality.

Visualize yourself in the space and anticipate your needs. A good designer will guide you in this process. If you’re going at this solo, make sure you take room measurements and draw your furniture in the space to scale. The last thing you want to do is make considerable furniture purchases that do not fit in the space or look completely out of proportion. Furniture is expensive. Avoid costly mistakes. One more thing: measure doors and elevators ahead of time to make sure your pieces will fit through.

6. PLAN ELECTRICAL POINTS

If you’re doing a new build or a complete renovation, you have the opportunity to consider where you will need electrical outlets. You’ll need to define your furniture plan and think ahead to where you might need or want any decorative light fixtures, electrical appliances or gadgets.

Technology considerations are becoming more relevant than ever before. Try to consult with a smart home provider to anticipate where you might want to have a smart home device like Google Home or Alexa, security cameras and the like. Once again, planning and organization are key. Consulting with professionals will make this process a lot easier.

7. THINK OF SUSTAINABLE DESIGN

Another important consideration is sustainability. Designing with sustainable measures will increase your home’s efficiency while helping out our environment. Incorporating sustainable measures is easy and important.

Here are some ideas: maximize natural light, reuse furniture, choose energy star appliances and water efficient toilets and faucets, use zero-VOC paints, add solar window films to reduce heat gain. These measures will conserve energy, minimize waste, and help reduce your environmental impact.

8. MAKE DECISIONS & STICK TO THEM

We’ve said this before, but we’ll say it again. Nothing will delay a design more than indecision and/or changes. Design is like baking a cake. You can’t change one ingredient without affecting the outcome. Planning and preparation are key because one element builds on the next.

So, if you change one color or item, chances are you’ll need to go back and alter other things as well or maybe even start over. This will cause delays and added costs. The more planning and decisions you can make ahead of time and stick to them, the smoother your construction or renovation will be.

9. PUT ON YOUR PATIENCE HAT

Designing your home takes time. There are no shortcuts. Even if you are a professional, and even if you’ve done this multiple times before, expect unexpected challenges and surprises. You can minimize these challenges by hiring a professional, working with a responsible contractor, planning and making your decisions ahead of time.

But even if you do everything by the book, expect things to cost more and take longer than you anticipated. Breathe in and out and try to enjoy the process. Remind yourself often: you don’t have to do this; you GET to this.

As you can see it’s all about creating your vision, planning your spaces, making decisions and sticking to them. We hope this roadmap is helpful if and when you decide to undertake a home design! Our spaces affect our well-being and state of mind. Designing your home is a challenging but worthwhile undertaking.

FURTHER READING: 6 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE BUILDING YOUR HOME 

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