How to Successfully Navigate the Design Process

Building your dream home or cottage takes more than a vision board and a payment schedule - it requires months of planning and discussions with your team of experts to go through every detail that will make this building work for you and your family. At Cedar Winds, we’ve established a rock-solid design process to help guide you through each decision, but the long checklist of selections can still be overwhelming. These 10 tips will help you feel prepared for each meeting. 


1. Have a clear vision of your design style

Understanding what you want your house to look like is the first step in ensuring you will love pulling in the driveway! Key words like “rustic”, “airy” or “cozy” are always helpful, but pictures speak a thousand words. Showing us images of both exteriors and interiors will help us to see the full picture, and if you’re able to highlight specific elements in each image, that’s even better. Think shapes, colours, textures, materials, sizes, symmetry etc.


2. Understand your household needs and daily routines

More than anything, it’s important that the design of the space works for YOU. Everyone has routines, preferences, traditions and unique requirements. Think about what an average day looks like in this home across all seasons, and write down everything that takes place. For bonus points, look at your existing space with a more critical eye - are there things that DO NOT work well for you?


3. Don’t get stuck on what you’re accustomed to

Many people think they prefer things a certain way because that’s how they are now, but don’t forget, change can be great! Your existing space was probably designed for someone else, and it's not uncommon for people to change their habits to suit their environment, but we believe that your environment should be designed to suit you! Try to think of what YOU would prefer, now that the choice is yours to make. 


4. Be aware of what decisions are coming up and why

A good design process is carefully considered and should help in simplifying the experience for you. Starting from high level thinking (ie. where is the building on the property), moving through functional requirements (ie. will you be adding a secondary prep sink), and ending with the finer details (ie. what finish on your cabinet knobs) is a flow that ensures all the parts and pieces will eventually be assembled in the most efficient manner possible. Following this flow is the best way to manage your budget while simultaneously maintaining progress on site. Keep yourself informed with what discussions are coming up next, and start thinking about that aspect of the project so that you are already warmed up for the next meeting. 


5. Be flexible with your wish list

We are going to do our very best to check every off item on your wishlist, but sometimes it’s out of our hands. There are various constraints we must work within that often aren’t brought up in meetings (ie. site restrictions, building code regulations, structural requirements, budgetary limitations etc.), and some compromise may be required at one stage or another. 


6. Try not to fall for what you see on the screen

Scrolling through Pinterest and Houzz or watching your favourite show on HGTV can be a great source of inspiration, but bear in mind - what you see is often too good to be true. Many projects that take place on TV shows are full of sponsored or free components and falsified timelines. Additionally, many of these shows take place in the US, where different climates and building codes often allow for more freedom of choice that wouldn't be an option for us here in Canada.


7. That small change may not be as small as you think

What seems like a minor adjustment to the design may not be as simple as you might think. Shifting that opening a little to the left, upgrading this gas fireplace to a wood-burning one, or swapping quartz countertops for laminate could impact various technical components and create a ripple effect of drawing changes, costs increases, or logistical challenges. We’ll do our best to make it happen, but be prepared for some additional compromises or adjustments to come into play.


8. This or that? - Follow your gut

When you’ve narrowed it down to only a few options and are having a hard time choosing between them, it’s always best to trust your gut! It’s easy to dive deep and overthink it, but more often than not, you will end up going with your first choice. 


9. Design meetings are fully loaded

When it’s time for a scheduled design review meeting, be sure to arrive energized, clear of mind, and ready to make decisions. Each meeting is jam-packed with all kinds of information being presented and decisions that need to be made, so it’s important that everyone is focused. 


10. Trust the experts and keep an open mind

You are an expert in your field - whether it's medicine, sales, animals or computers - and we’re experts in design and construction! We have already gone through trial and error for countless new ideas, and we know what works well and what does not. We might choose to present something a little different than you had envisioned, but try to hear us out. You have hired us to guide you along this exciting and daunting journey, so all we ask is that you trust in our years of knowledge and experience, and know that we’re working on behalf of your best interests. Our best advice overall: Do it right the first time (and it will be worth it in the long run).


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