Ashton Woods Expertise

Design Studio 101 – Tips for Your First Appointment

by Jennifer Ekmark

You’ve talked about it, dreamt about it, sketched it out, scrimped and saved. You’ve found the perfect location and floorplan, went in and finally made it happen! You’ve written the check, signed the dotted line, and contracted on that new home – CONGRATULATIONS! Then even more emotions set in. For a lot of soon-to-be home owners it can be a confusing mixture of total excitement sprinkled with a little nervous anxiety. Having to make all the crucial decisions of what actually goes into your home, from cabinets and hardware to tile and lighting, can be overwhelming. While it is a lot of information to consider with your designer, these tips will help make the process quite enjoyable:

1. Determine a Realistic Budget

Ask yourself, “What am I comfortable investing in this home?” Do you have any incentives? Once you have your initial number, build in a buffer for upgrades and must-haves. Make sure you have this conversation with your spouse or partner and, equally as important, your lender. Knowing what you are approved for will help you estimate monthly payments. Buyers are often pleasantly surprised at how little their design decisions affect the overall monthly mortgage payment.

2. Decide Who Attends the Design Appointment

There are so many items to choose and everyone will have at least one opinion! Unfortunately, a lot of buyers make the mistake of bringing too many people in with them – parents, realtors, friends – which also brings too many points of view and suggestions. This leaves the homeowners questioning their choices and feeling like their choices are too harshly judged. Keep it simple and only bring the decision-makers. You’re welcome to take lots of pictures and share them with others later.

On a similar note, I always encourage childcare if possible – the Studio is not a safe playground for little ones. While they are adorable, children can be a major distraction both for the parents, who are trying to keep them happy and sitting in one place, and others in the Studio who are making crucial choices.

3. Write Out Needs vs Wants

This can be tricky so here are some things I’ll always ask my clients:

  • Who will be living in the home (kids, elderly parents, teens)?
  • Do you have any pets (what types/sizes)?
  • How long do you plan on living in the home (longevity and resale)?
  • What’s your lifestyle (i.e. do you host gatherings, are you a movie buff, do you work from home, etc.)?

4. Keep a Style Cheat Sheet

At Ashton Woods, we believe in personalization and possibilities with our designs. Our Studio reflects that belief and is filled with thousands of amazing choices around every corner and behind every piece of millwork – but all of those options can be paralyzing if you haven’t explored different looks beforehand. Don't worry, we’re here to guide you and make suggestions. Having an idea of what you like ahead of time will only simplify the process and ensure that we pull samples reflective of your personal style.

Wondering how to figure out your style? Ask yourself a few easy questions:

  • What inspires you?
  • How do you want your guests to feel?
  • What colors make you happy?

I also encourage you to tour nearby models and start a Houzz or Pinterest board. Organizing your inspiration by room is the easiest way to pull all the pieces together for you and your designer. A simple folder of pictures, or online design quizzes, are helpful as well. Just remember: don’t be driven by fear! It is important not to limit yourself to perceived costs when selecting your photos. Our designers have access to a huge variety of materials that allow us to take your inspiration and develop a similar look that fits your budget. And we thrive on those creative challenges!

5. Have FUN and Enjoy the Experience

Many buyers have told me that these tips, and speaking honestly with their designer, enabled them to relax and take joy in designing their new home. This process is thrilling and we are so excited to help you make all your dream home a reality!

Ready to get started? Find a model home near you or get the details on a new home journey with Ashton Woods.