Facts About Finishes: Eight Ideas for New Homeowners

by Steve CookMay 29, 2018

By selecting the countertops, cabinets, flooring and a dozen other interior details, new owners convert newly built houses into homes. The finishes chosen will make a statement about the homeowner’s personal style for years to come.

Premium builders invite new owners to their design showrooms to pick the finishes that will create color combinations for every room and an overall unique look to every owner. In their model homes, other builders display several packages of finishes pre-selected by professionals. These result in designs that are less personal but require no participation by owners. In custom-designed homes, owners may hire a professional interior designer to help them achieve the look they seek.

Understanding your taste and lifestyle, selecting the right style and colors, and knowing how to harness the resources of your design center or professional designer will help you get the most from your investment in finishes.

Custom Built House design center

Tips From a Pro

Home to an almost endless supply of paint colors, granite patterns, cabinet styles and more, builder design centers showcase every new home design and décor option imaginable. When walking into a builder’s design center for the first time, owners who have not given much thought to the interior design of their new home are easily overwhelmed by the wide selection of finishes and the many choices to be made. Knowing how to work with your builder’s professional design staff will minimize stress, save time and make the experience enjoyable.

Prepare for the Design Center Appointment

Your design professional wants to get to know you and how you would like your new home to look. Before your first appointment, put together some photos from past homes and interior designs that you like. Spend some time with your spouse and other members of your family to involve them from the very beginning to find out what they like and don’t like. Try to reach a consensus.

Eileen Schwartz manages the Maryland Design Center for Toll Brothers in Columbia, Maryland. During her 15 years as a design consultant, she has helped hundreds of new owners navigate the selection process successfully.

“When I contact customers for the first time I encourage them to get on Pinterest and put on pictures or email me pictures so that when they come in I can already have some colors selected just to simplify things for them,” said Ms. Schwartz.

Browse the Design Center

Builders post photos of interiors on their websites. Take some time to browse the design center before your first appointment to get a feel for the options available.

“Prior to their appointment, I highly recommend to my customers that they spend a little time in the design center to review all the things we have to offer and to start choosing colors,” said Ms. Schwartz. “That initial appointment is a three-hour one-on-one where we make decisions.”
Custom Kitchen Finishes design center

Create a Plan for Each Room

Certain finishes, like flooring and the colors you choose, will affect the design of a whole floor but most finishes will be specific to a room. Concentrate on one room at a time.

Put Together a Budget Before the First Appointment

Once you have an overview of the finishes you will pick, put together a budget. When picking your finishes, you may want to select upgrades for items like countertops or cabinets. With a budget that you and your spouse have agreed to in advance, you will know how much you will be able to spend.

Prioritize Upgrades to Reflect Your Lifestyle

Upgrades can account for a significant amount of your budget. Having a budget will make it easier to decide on what upgrades to buy. Include room in your budget for upgraded finishes. When deciding on upgrades, take into account the family’s lifestyle. If you like to cook, consider top-of-the-line kitchen appliances. Do you like good music and large screen TVs? Add extra wall outlets throughout the house. Do you live in a warm, humid climate? Add ceiling fans to bedrooms and common areas. Make a prioritized list of upgrades that reflect their importance to you.

Involve the Family

It’s a good idea to involve everyone in the family in the process by keeping them informed and setting priorities. Kids may have suggestions for their bedrooms and recreational spaces. Take some time to make sure that everyone in the family is kept up to date.

Don’t Design Around an Individual Piece of Furniture or Art

“I do my best to explain that the finishes on the interior of the home are more important than any single piece of furniture. It’s not a good idea to pick out the hardwood flooring for the entire first floor based on what will look good with grandma’s hutch,” said Ms. Schwartz. “It might be a better idea to incorporate that piece of furniture with the carpet in a single room.”

Preparation, planning, and communication − these are the keys to creating a beautiful interior that you will enjoy for many years to come.

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About The Author
Steve Cook
Steve Cook is editor and co-publisher of Real Estate Economy Watch. He is a member of the board of the National Association of Real Estate Editors and writes for several leading Web sites, including Inman News. From 1999 to 2007 he was vice president for public affairs at the National Association of Realtors.