An Inside Look Into the Remodeling Design Process

A Q&A Discussion with Riverside Construction’s Interior Designer Kelly Grish

Many homeowners can feel overwhelmed when embarking on a home remodeling process. Where do you even begin? There’s so much to think about! And, once you decide to move forward, what can you expect in the way of working with a designer? Get an inside look at what it’s like to begin the design process, and the advantages of working with a design expert, from our very own in-house designer, Kelly Grish.

 

Q: “What can I expect in our first design meeting?”

We will measure the affected areas of your home and ask you deliberate questions that will result in a clear understanding of your needs for the space. Questions we might ask include, “What are your must-haves? “Nice-to-haves?” “What is working?” “What isn’t working?” “What are your biggest challenges with the space?” “What are you hoping to see changed?” “If you could do anything with this space, what would you want to do with it?” While we are in your home, we will also be looking to get a sense of your personal design style, color preferences, and making sure the new remodel ties in with the rest of your home, and your home’s architecture.

 

Q: “What are the most common question(s) you get from a homeowner at the beginning of the design process?”

Homeowners are commonly concerned about cost. They are seeking my help in finding the best way to add value to their home, improving their living space, all the while keeping within their budget.

 

Q: “So, how good are you at solving this problem for them—keeping within their budget?”

Pretty darn good, actually. That’s one of the primary benefits of working with a design/build firm.

 

Q: “How often are you able to design a space that the homeowners want, at a cost they can afford?”

That answer depends on what you want. Are they structural changes? Do you want to knock down a load-bearing or non load-bearing wall? Are we moving a wall with plumbing or electrical? Every space is different.

As a design/build firm, we can make suggestions for changes to the design that fit within the your budget. For example, we had a client that wanted to remove a soffit that had plumbing in it. To save money and make her project affordable, we designed the new kitchen cabinetry to hide the soffit instead. While the client preferred the soffit to be removed, the end result was that the ceiling no longer looked too short and our work-around kept the cost of the remodel in line with the homeowner’s budget.

 

Q: “I have never hired a Design/Build firm using an Interior Designer for a kitchen or bathroom remodel before, how does the design process work?”

We start by meeting with you, listening closely to what you like and don’t like about your home. We also discuss your hopeful timeline and budget. After a budget range is provided, we measure your space and narrow in on our design preferences. We take all of the information and transform them into a blue print—a space plan. You review the new concept drawings, brought to life through 2D plans and 3D renderings. We then follow up with a project budget proposal and start working with you on making final selections. Upon your approval of the final plans and specifications, we order materials, start the permitting process, and schedule your project to start.

 

Q: “What do you do as an interior/architectural designer? I think some people misunderstand your qualifications.”

As an interior/architectural designer, I make interior spaces functional, safe and beautiful by determining space requirements and helping people make selections such as colors, lighting, cabinetry, flooring, fixtures, etc. More importantly, I help homeowners with style selections that make their new remodel blend cohesively with the rest of the home.  Function is a huge aspect of what I do. No matter how beautiful a space is, if it doesn’t function properly for the homeowner, it is not a good design. Achieving better function in a space might include removing or moving existing walls— when budget allows.

As an architectural designer, I also work with CAD programs to make sure that building designs are feasible—drawing blue prints and measuring your existing space. I do almost everything (redesigning an existing inside structure) with the exception of HVAC and calculating load-bearing points. It is usually possible to determine if a wall is load bearing or not based on its distance from an exterior wall. However, if a wall were to be removed (all walls can be removed, some are just more expensive than others) I would need the expertise of an engineer or architect to specify the type of beam needed to span the space and carry the load. I do have the qualifications to create an electric plan and make the perfect lighting plan for your home.

 

Q: “How do you help homeowners make their selections?

First of all, Riverside Construction has a fabulous showroom, which I invite homeowners to—where you can touch, feel and compare a selection of cabinets, and countertops. We also take our clients to a local flooring store to select carpet, tile and wood flooring in person. For plumbing fixtures and lighting, we can effectively shop for selections online and at the homeowners request we are able to take advantage of a few local show rooms.

 

Q: “Do you recommend homeowners spend some time on their own narrowing down their design likes and dislikes, before meeting with a designer?

Yes, I do recommend that homeowners do a little homework up front. If someone wants to change the style of his/her home, then seeing it in person doesn’t help. Being able to look at finished project photos and material samples that portray the design style that the homeowner prefers is a big help.

 

Q: “What websites, magazines or books do you recommend homeowners use to identify their design style?

The main sources to rely on are Pinterest, Houzz, and doing a Google Image search online. There are also several remodeling magazines that provide some great ideas, like Kitchen & Bath Magazine.

 

Q: “If a client has a hard time deciding on a color palette for a particular room, how do you help them narrow down their choices?”

In a lot of cases, homeowners are not sure what they want. If space is open and connected to other rooms, I’m looking at their existing color selections and seeing how we can tie the color of the new space into the rest of the home. In other words, what exists in the home drives the design, to some extent.

It is also very common to start with one item, like flooring, and determine what their preference is. After two or three selections, we can see what they like.

 

Q: “What if a homeowner has caviar taste but a tuna fish budget? How do you handle?”

It’s not uncommon for homeowners to be a little shocked by the cost of materials. We are really good at educating people on the actual cost of things. And, after showing them how much something is, we offer alternatives that result in a similar look but are not as expensive. For example, a client may really want travertine tile until we show them a porcelain tile alternative that looks similar at a fourth of the cost.

 

Q: “Do you use special design software? If yes, how does this aid in the design process?”

Yes, Riverside Construction uses a 3D design software as part of our design process. There is no better way to understand and experience your new design than to see it in 3D first, before construction begins. Instead of relying on our imagination, you get to see your design and your material selections before approving any specifications. As a designer I’m able to visualize what some of these changes might look like without the 3D design work, but that’s rarely true for clients. If you want to see what your kitchen looks like with bulkheads removed, “Voila!”

 

Q: “What would you say is the benefit to a homeowner of working with a design/build firm?”

The biggest benefit of working with a design/build firm is that we tailor your home remodeling design to your budget. There are many architectural firms. They may do a great job of producing a beautiful design project, but may or may not take into consideration the best way to design your space affordably. A design/build firm encourages your active participation in the design process so that if your budget won’t allow it, we’ll come up with an alternative design to make it work. Then, we take care of everything from start to finish. If you were to take a plan from an architect, then you would need to find your own contractor.

 

Q: “What are the current kitchen design trends you see emerging in the Lafayette area?”

The kitchen continues to be the center of the home. It’s where people like to congregate. As a result, we’re seeing a lot of people requesting islands with bar seating. Homeowners are getting rid of soffits, to create more space. They are using under cabinet lighting, and many are choosing the fresh, clean look of glass or ceramic tile backsplashes. We are seeing less Corian in the kitchen, and more quartz and granite.

Many homeowners are choosing to use tile or wood plank vinyl—a smart choice that typically water resistant.

The colors, grey and beige are still big in Lafayette. Taupe, a mixture of the two colors, is also popular. A lot of people don’t want to renovate again. These neutral colors are popular colors that stand the test of time.

White cabinets are also very popular. Our cabinet manufacturer is currently delivering 70-80% shaker style white cabinets. We are also seeing some requests for darker wood cabinets.

 

Q: “What are current bathrooms design trends in Lafayette, Indiana?”

If homeowners have a tub somewhere else in there home, they are doing away with their master bathroom tub and replacing it with a large, walk-in shower. We’re also seeing a lot of floor to ceiling tile and glass wall shower partitions, which make the room appear larger. Storage is always a must. We are forever finding creative ways to add storage to bathrooms.

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