Tips for Navigating Through the Selection Process
In a world of infinite possibilities as it relates to materials, finishes, appliances and fixtures for the home, narrowing down the options to a select few that ultimately make it into a new house project can be a daunting task for any design professional, let alone the average homeowner. So how should one approach resolving this paradox of choice? Below are 5 tips that I have found work best for me in making effective selections that I believe will also benefit the average homeowner looking to improve their dwelling.
Tip #1: Pick a Style and Stick to It. Home design websites, TV programs, magazines, and store showrooms are full of all different styles ranging from Contemporary to Craftsman to Mediterranean to Farmhouse. The first step to effective selections is to pick one style and stick to it. This will create positive constraints on the amount of items to choose from and keep your house from looking like a disjointed cluster of styles. My stylistic preference is more Contemporary, but that isn't to say there aren't good places for the other types of styles provided they are consistent throughout a project. A great way to educate yourself on style options is to visit Houzz.com and filter by 'Style'. You can also filter by rooms and exterior spaces, to better customize search results.
Tip #2: Browse Houzz and IKEA. If you are a follower of the Home 2.0 Blog, you know that I reference Houzz.com a lot, but it is far and away the best online resource for home design ideas and inspiration. All the top residential architects, interior designers and builders locally and nationally post their work to Houzz and it is incredibly user friendly for custom searches, creating idea books, finding specific products, and interacting with a network of friendly and knowledgeable professionals. That said, I always like to see materials, finishes, appliances and fixtures in person for additional inspiration and validation before making selections. A quick and easy way to see a lot of design ideas quickly is to visit an IKEA store where you can see dozens and dozens of thoughtfully designed kitchen, dining, living, bedroom and bathroom options in a single walk through and get a feel for what you like and dislike.
Tip #3: Identify Common Threads. Identifying unifying elements throughout the interior and exterior of a home that tie everything together in a coherent design is an effective way to give a home its own distinct character and aid in the decision making process when it comes to selections. An example of this in the Starter Home 2.0 project is the black railing element, which is featured on the exterior porch and carried through to the interior stair railing. The black is also reflected in the colors of the kitchen and bathroom cabinetry in the home.
Tip #4: Timeless over Trendy. Anything you see advertised as 'In' or 'Trendy' is a warning sign that within a few years it will be 'Out' or 'Unfashionable'. Always aim for timeless over trendy with anything other than paint or furnishings that can't be easily changed or replaced. Selecting materials and that are natural and neutral are a great way to ensure timelessness. Architects, Frank Lloyd Wright and Alvar Aalto were masters of this in their home designs (pictured below), which is why their century old projects are just as 'in' now as they were when they were originally constructed while so many other residences built just 10 years ago are already outdated.
Tip #5: Never select the Most or Least Expensive Option. Lastly, once you have decided on what finish, material or product you think you want to select, always make sure it isn't the most expensive or least expensive option on the market. This is especially applicable to light fixtures and plumbing fixtures as nearly identical items in terms of aesthetics and performance made by one manufacturer can easily be 4 to 5 times more expensive than those made by others. That said, on the bottom end of the cost spectrum you get what you pay for and the cheapest option is typically just crap. Find the middle ground to get the biggest bang for your buck and get a home full of quality finishes, materials and products without breaking the bank.