- Shelby Whitfield
Designer Secrets: Sources to Make Your DIY Project a Success
When building a new home, especially if you're doing the design work all yourself (which, in my completely unbiased professional opinion, I don't recommend), it's super easy to get excited and start selecting stunning paint colours and cool tiles.
I'll admit, I have to head back to step one sometimes when working on a client project.
When you have a vision, you want to get started on absolutely everything!
But you can't.
(Unless you have a ton of free time and promise that you'll be working on the more immediate priorities simultaneously).
"Then what are those priorities?"
Well, sometimes the specific timelines depend on the builder. So make sure you ask yours.
But generally, it's time to start thinking about things that impact the actual construction process:
Lighting isn't typically the first thing people think of when designing their dream home, but you have to! Great lighting can transform the feel and function of your home, so it's time to think about what you need and where it goes. Without a lighting designer, you'll need to keep a few things in mind:
Architectural (by this, I just mean "can") lights just aren't sufficient for every situation. (You'll see above that designer Barry Dixon hasn't used any! But if overhead lights are all you want, then have the builder put them on dimmers at least. And make sure your fan blades- if you must have a fan, like we do in Texas- don't interrupt the light from the cans above them. A lighting designer, if you do have one, will include a focus and adjust at the end of the construction process to avoid this.)
But task lighting is crucial. You may need sconces down an entry hall (like in The Interior Collection's photo above) or flanking a fireplace or furniture vanity.
You may not want the standard three pendant island; your electricians will need this on the lighting plan too.
Even if you don't want hardwired fixtures, knowing floor plug locations for lamps (or phone chargers!) is an important part of this process.
(Your architect should be able to help with this; just tell them how you use your space and they'll be able to direct you on specific placement. You definitely want furniture and rugs to hide them.)
Note that you don't need to know specific fixtures just yet, only that a chandelier will go here and a sconce or two there. But when you're ready to select, you're probably asking,
"Where do I find great lighting?"
Your builder probably has a local showroom he works with (local- to me- Lights Fantastic Pro above), but to be honest, lighting showrooms can be super overwhelming and it's impossible for them to showcase everything that is available. And without a designer, you'll probably have to select out of catalogues, so I'll give you just a few of my favourite lines to narrow down your search!
(These are all trade only, but your builder or showroom should have a source. If not, a few of my favorite pieces are available in the Menagerie Shop!)
Probably one of every designer's favourite lines. The finishes are gorgeous, the line is extensive, and the collection is classic.
Currey & Company
Also extensive, Currey has a cool, classic vibe with a bit of an edge.
(Accurately) self described as an "east-meets-west" line, Ro Sham Beaux is luxuriously natural, and elegantly casual. Plus, on top of a multitude of standard options, they offer fully custom designs! (Fair warning: those custom designs do come with a custom price tag; Currey offers a Ro-Sham-Beaux-esque chandelier I've linked in the shop!)
To complete construction drawings, your builder or architect should have asked about any non-standard plumbing requests- do you need to be able to pour water from the fridge in the utility room? have an icemaker in the kitchen island? want a wall-mount faucet in the powder bath?
But after that, you get to actually select the fixtures! Same thing goes here- while your builder may let you select from anywhere, using his vendor list will cause much less headache for everyone. And again, many showrooms can order from more lines than they actually "show".
Here are a just a few of my plumbing favourites!
What's not to love about Kohler? The line is so extensive, there's always something for everyone. I love their sinks especially; they've got great minimalist collections as well as neat textures and printed patterns. Kallista, a Kohler subsidiary, is also a fantastic resource.
Classic. Stunning. Guys, I love Samuel Heath; the main reason being the elegant, (and oxymoronic) detailed simplicity. The crystal handle option on the Style Moderne collection is lovely, too.
Delta's higher-end line, Brizo is also classic and elegant without the top of the line price tag. They're known for unusual finishes; the two-tone options and champagne bronze are great ways to update an older bath or kitchen while complementing existing hardware finishes.
While I love Victoria & Albert's tub selection too, I had to narrow down this list somehow! I figured Jason was worth mentioning (though their tubs are slightly less gorgeous than Victoria & Albert; V&A is pictured above) because of their really neat technology. "Jason" is short for "Jacuzzi's son"- yeah, that Jacuzzi. The microsilk option in their tubs is their fancy term for a type hydrotherapy that helps rehydrate & exfoliate your skin through tiny bubbles. Seriously. Look into that.
Floor & Ceiling Treatments
This post got a little lengthy, so I'll save this for a second part sometime. What you do need to know early in construction process: which rooms in the house will have tile, which wood, and which carpet, so that the foundation can be adjusted to create seamless transitions. But more on that, and a few other tricks, another time; let me know what you've always wondered about the building process and I'll include that too!