Design Inspiration & Planning

First of a two part series,  Jodi Kines discusses the overload of information available and how to use it wisely.

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We are surrounded by so many fabulous resources for design inspiration – sites like Pinterest & Houzz, TV networks like HGTV, mailboxes full of store catalogs, even the home décor section of many local retailers. Most of these pins, posts and pages are meant to help generate ideas and are meant to inspire us. However, what begins as inspiration can quickly turn into a never-ending to-do list, leaving you feeling overwhelmed and frustrated! All of this ‘visual eye candy’ can make it hard to discern what plans, projects, and products are ideal for your own home. It can also lead to ‘scope creep’ as projects begin to snowball beyond their initial plans as new ideas are stumbled upon, blowing the budget, the timeline, and your nerves. So how can you utilize these resources as the inspiration they were intended, instead of the modern-day, overwhelming guilt-trip they can sometimes become?

Have a plan
Knowing where you are going makes it easier to stay on course. Know where you ultimately want to take your design and how you want to use your space. This will make it harder to get side-tracked by exciting new ideas that, while super-enticing, may not actually be relevant to your personal project. Creating a master plan is a chance to take a step back, think about your lifestyle and your personal taste, in addition to current trends. It’s a chance to create an ultimate ‘wish list’ for how you would love for your home to look ‘someday’.
Next, take your master plan to the next level and prioritize. Decide where you want to focus your resources first (time, energy and budget!) helping narrow your searches for inspiration as you begin. If you decide to focus your energy, time and money on a plan for redecorating a bedroom, you are less likely to get side-tracked by the fabulous outdoor fireplace you may run across on a friend’s Pinterest board.bigstock-Woman-Working-On-Laptop-2254945

Make budget part of your plan
Once you have this master list, you can begin to assign dollar amounts to each portion of the project. You need to get general estimates for line items so you have a realistic idea of the overall costs associated. This may be a good step to enlist professional assistance. An interior designer or architect would be ideal for major renovation plans. A real estate agent would be an ideal consultant to help weigh financial investment verses resale potential, and reputable subcontractors can help you best understand both labor and material costs for larger components of a project. For smaller-scale projects, a quick online search of local retailers can offer great price-comparisons and give you a guide for budgeting. Being armed with this information can allow you to properly allocate your resources – both time and money. It also allows you to shop smarter – if you stumble on what seems like a great ‘bargain’ knowing it is consistent with the overall plan & within the budget constraints makes it a true ‘treasure’ instead of a potentially regrettable impulse purchase. Without a master plan and general budget, we often regret these impulse purchases that seemed like such a great deal at the time. Many of us have fallen prey to great marketing or a slashed price on a sale sticker, only to realize later we have a closet/ drawer/ or chest full of items that maybe weren’t quite as good of an idea as they seemed at the time. Having cost estimates associated with the components of a project can also give you a realistic idea as to whether or not DIY will really offer a cost savings – and if so, can be the inspiration you need to put in a little sweat equity to get just the right piece of the design. Knowing you’ve only budgeted $200 for a new kitchen table can make it easier to search local thrift shops and Craigslist listings for a great little paintable project.

Having a plan & associated budget offers a great guide to home improvementand DIY projects, offering you boundaries to make it easier to distinguish ‘great ideas’ from ‘great ideas, perfect for YOUR home’. Knowing the difference can help shrink your to-do list and leave you feeling less overwhelmed and more inspired.