Diamond Certified Experts: Designing Your Remodel

by Matt Solis


Are you ready to remodel your home? Before you knock down any walls, you’ll need to figure out your design. What style are you aiming for? What are your aesthetic and functional requirements? What kinds of products do you want to incorporate? These are all important questions that need to be answered before the building can begin. To help you find the answers, we’ve asked six Diamond Certified Expert Contributors to provide their professional insights on remodeling design.

Let your vision guide you.

When planning for a remodel, most homeowners start by determining their budget and letting that number inform their design. While this is certainly the most prudent route, Ruben Cordova, owner of Cordova Construction, says it may not bring the best result. “Starting with your budget can limit your project’s possibilities and lead to reduced satisfaction with the final product. An alternative approach to consider is conceiving your design without looking up the cost first. This way, you start with your ideal vision and work from there. Sure, not every aspect may be feasible, but you might be surprised by what’s possible. As the saying goes, ‘Shoot for the moon—even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.’” Mr. Cordova adds that a savvy and experienced contractor can be instrumental in maximizing your budget to achieve these results.

Check your motivation.

According to Steve Daniel, president of Steve Daniel Construction Inc., when conceiving your remodel, it’s wise to check your motivation—otherwise, you may make design choices you regret later. “For example, a lot of homeowners get caught up in following the latest remodeling trends,” he explains. “However, while trends change, functionality always remains the same. You want your new kitchen or bathroom to function well over the next 20 years, so be sure to prioritize function over fashion.” Mr. Daniel also warns against becoming overly focused on the reactions of others. “Some homeowners really want to ‘wow’ their friends and neighbors, so that becomes the focal point of the remodel. In reality, you should be designing your new kitchen or bathroom for yourself, not for others. If your friends like it, that’s great, but it’s more important that you like it.”

Start with the finish.

While you might assume architectural drawings are the first step of remodeling design, Maor Greenberg, owner of Greenberg Construction, suggests a different starting point: choosing finishing products like countertops, cainets and flooring. “Choosing these products at the beginning will not only give you a clearer idea of what your project is going to cost, it’ll also influence your architectural drawings,” he explains. “This can save you money by minimizing the need for revisions. Designs tend to change a lot as products are selected, but if you start by choosing your products, your architect will be able to base their drawings around those products and avoid the need to make changes later.”

Of course, choosing finishing products can be pretty involved, so you don’t want to make a quick decision. In addition to doing your own product research, Ian Hlinka, owner of IMH Construction, Inc., suggests getting some input from your contractor. “After putting together your ‘wish list’ of finishing products, share it with your contractor—they can tell you whether the products you’ve chosen are compatible with your design and suggest alternative options if needed. Once your contractor has given their approval, you should be good to make your purchases.”

Glean some inspiration.

While some homeowners have no trouble conceiving remodeling designs, for others it’s not so easy. If you fall into the latter category, Merlyn DeLeon, office manager at AMS Construction, suggests getting some outside inspiration. “If you’re having difficulties, you can consult remodeling websites or magazines for ideas. Collect your favorite designs and share them with your contractor—this will help them understand the direction you want to go in.”

If you’re specifically having trouble choosing finishing products, Mr. Greenberg recommends visiting other remodeled homes and experiencing different products in person. “Construction is all about feeling, and you can’t ascertain a feeling by simply looking at pictures,” he says. “Getting a firsthand experience of different finishing products will help you make choices you’ll be happy with long after your remodeling project is completed.”

Test proposed changes in your home.

While remodeling magazines and product showrooms are great resources for making design decisions, Gary Robertson, president of Robertson Renovations, says it’s also a good idea to simulate the experience of proposed design changes in your home. “For example, if you have plans to alter your home’s layout, put some masking tape on the floor to demarcate the location of the new wall or counter space. Live with that for a few days and see whether the changed layout fits within or disrupts your daily flow.”

Likewise, when choosing paint colors for your remodeled space, Mr. Robertson recommends applying samples to pieces of cardboard and taping them on your walls. “This will give you an impression of how it feels to live with these colors on a daily basis. Utilizing these and similar techniques, you’ll be able to make more informed choices regarding your remodeling project and ensure satisfaction with the end result.”

Find a Diamond Certified kitchen and bath contractor or remodeling and additions contractor in your area.