Building a New Home? BUILD BACKWARDS!

Building a new home can be exciting and wonderful.  It can also be complex, draining and confusing.  So many times a client will call me AFTER they are done building, not realizing the best time to reach out to an interior designer is during the planning stage - before the blueprints are finalized.  The architectural plan may specify “Great Room” or “Master Bedroom Suite” but that doesn’t mean you will be able to fit your furniture, watch television or entertain 20 people at Thanksgiving.  The perception of size is based on your experience.  Without that knowledge, you may think a “Great Room” is where you will be hosting all your friends and family to a Sunday afternoon Football game, but in reality only 4 people can fit in that room comfortably.  

Asking important questions & knowing what you want will catch problem causing issues beforehand, creating a much smoother and more pleasant experience.  Do not get me wrong, building a house is hard work.  What I am suggesting is to visualize the end result and then build your plan from there!


You may have photos and ideas of the type of home you want.  A Cape, Colonial, Contemporary, etc.. You may have chosen the color, a porch or even a deck style.  But before they break ground, do you know what you want it to look like inside?  Do you envision beautiful, ornate moldings around all your windows & doors with minimal window treatments?  If so, you may need a different type of construction to set the windows back, deep enough to mount those window treatments. Do you want transom windows?  Will they be a single unit including both the window & transom or separate?  Two different options, two different types of construction.


Make a list of how you live your life.

How many people will be living in your home? Partner? Kids? Parents? Dog? Multiple dogs?

Do you need an office? Do you love cuddling up on a couch and having a movie marathon?  Do you play guitar & want a space to jam with friends, or do you meditate every morning in a chair facing a window during sunrise?

Really think about what makes you happy, because in the long run, isn’t that why you’re doing this?


Do you really know what an 10 foot x 10 foot bedroom or a 24 foot x 30 foot great room will look like?  On the architectural plans, does that 10’ x 10’ include the framing?  Go in any room that you’re living in now and guess what the dimensions are.  Then measure it. Did you get it right?  How big is your bathroom?  Your kitchen? Carry a measuring tape with you at all times!

Think about what furniture you want.  Sofa and loveseat, sectional, 10 foot dining room table?  Twin beds, king bed, triple dresser, nightstands?  Look at both the widths and the lengths!  Do not just measure out an 84 inch sofa,  measure 84 inches x 40 inches deep!  Find a website where you can create a furniture layout or ask your architect or interior designer for one.  If you are unsure of the exact room size, estimate it to see if the furniture you want will fit in the proposed plan!  Can you put a sofa opposite your television?  Don’t forget recliners, side and cocktail tables!  

The goal is not to become an expert but you need to have a general idea when looking at your blueprints.


I have “several” pet peeves when it comes to new construction...such as:

Having too many electrical plugs showing in the middle of a kitchen backsplash.

Installing a motion sensor so close to the window that you cannot install window treatments.

A door swing that barely clears a stair banister.

A window built directly up against a wall.

A round window in an area where privacy is essential.

Huge windows with arch tops without the client knowing it will be several thousand dollars in window treatment costs because nothing ready made will fit.

More windows than wall space when wall space is critical.

The thermostat placed right in the middle of a wall so it’s impossible to hang anything else on it...the list goes on…

The moral of this story is to think about the desired end result and BUILD BACKWARDS from there.  And always, always do not be afraid to ask questions!