If you are feeling stuck while trying to select the finish and fixture package for your renovation or new construction project, have no fear! Material and fixture selections can feel overwhelming. Where do I start? I like everything, how do I choose!? This step-by-step guide is a simplified and short version of the process I use to select finishes and fixtures for my clients. It can be applied to either residential and commercial projects.
1. I D E N T I F Y Y O U R S T Y L E:
Compile imagery of your favorite homes or spaces and find the common thread. Traditional homes will have articulated crown mouldings and baseboards, where contemporary homes will have crisp edges with minimal trim work. Rustic or Farmhouse styles will have lots of wood textures. Industrial styles will feature raw materials like concrete and steel. Once you have identified your preferred motif, select one image or create a collage of images which best describes it. I recently put together an image board for residential project looking to create a modern cottage aesthetic, which you can see below. This visual serves as a guide as you make selections from a vast amount of choices.
T I P S
Your style collage will help your architect or designer decide which architectural items like windows, doors and trim that work best in your home. Ask your design professional to review these selections with you and have them document your window, door, and trim selections in your set of drawings.
2. S T A R T W I T H T H E F L O O R I N G:
Flooring is one of the largest design elements in your home in terms of area, spanning from wall to wall and setting a tone that balances the remaining materials. There are many different materials available for flooring with a range of price points from $2/square foot to $30/square foot or more. If you are doing this alone without a designer, ask a flooring sales representative to review the pros and cons of each of the following flooring types. Appearance aside, each flooring will offer unique benefits in maintenance, budget and ease of installation.
- Solid Wood
- Engineered Wood
- Laminate Wood
- Vinyl Wood-look
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After you select your flooring, be sure to ask the flooring supplier to give you a control sample you can use as you make your remaining selections. When going with a wood finish, ask your flooring supplier if the wood selections come in a range of colors, textures and grains. Tile can also come in varied finishes. It's important to know how close the sample really represents the material, so asking now can prevent surprises later.
3. A P P L I A N C E S & P L U M B I N G F I X T U R E S
With your budget goal and plans in-hand, you are ready to select appliances and plumbing fixtures. For guidance in selections, schedule a consultation with a supplier’s showroom sales representative; in the New Orleans area, Ferguson, Campo, LCR are some great examples. The sales rep will use your plan to work up a quote which will then be incorporated into your budget.
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- Pick alternate appliances and fixtures in case your quote comes back higher than the budget.
- Make sure the supplier has included accessories like drain baskets in sinks, kits for stackable washers/dryers, and in-wall valves necessary for the project.
- Ask for the sales rep for the product information sheets in PDF format. These information “cut” sheets can be included in your project manual and serve as a reference for your contractor when building out the spaces.
Metal finishes come in a variety of looks that have a big impact on the look of your bathrooms and kitchens. To name a few:
- Matte Black
4. C A B I N E T S & M I L L W O R K
There are many kitchen cabinet suppliers in the New Orleans area that can assist you in selecting the best cabinets for your home. These suppliers will use the kitchen layout, budget, appliance and plumbing fixture selections, to create cabinet shop drawings for your approval. The contractor will need these shop drawings in order to make sure proper blocking has been installed to support the cabinets. If you are going the custom route, have the fabricator provide a control sample of the species of wood and finish of your cabinets. The custom fabricator should also provide shop drawings and be certified by AWI or another institution.
Here’s a list of cabinet suppliers I have worked with in New Orleans:
- Adda Huey Brown
- BlueBag (Ikea)
5. T I L E & C O U N T E R T O P S
You are half-way there! With flooring and cabinets selected, you are ready to select your countertops and wall tile. Schedule a consultation with a supplier’s showroom sales rep, like ProSource, Horizon Tile, Stafford Tile, Pieri, etc. You can even go to Home Depot or Lowes, if you are on a budget. Just like flooring, tile and countertops come in a wide range of price points.
- Solid Surface
- Concrete Tile
- Porcelain Tile
- Ceramic Tile
T I P S
I learned this countertop tip just recently and I have been designing for 14 years. If you are using quartz as your countertops, many jumbo slabs come in dimensions of 130" x 65" and you must purchase the entire slab. If you are installing the same quartz on an island and wall flanking counter in your kitchen, add the dimension of the wall flanking counter and island (for instance counter is 25" + island is 40" = 65"). Make your island no more than 40" wide, so that you aren't purchasing an extra slab. Sometimes you just need to ask the fabricator how to make the most of your slab and not bust your budget!
5. D E C O R A T I V E L I G H T F I X T U R E S
The contractor will most likely NOT include these as a part of his contract sum, but will include in the install if specified to do so. Work with your design professional to find the best fixtures for your space. We can import lighting into the drawings to make sure the fixture size and scale work well in the space. Don’t forget fans!
6. G L A S S , H A R D W A R E & A C C E S S O R I E S
These too are NOT generally apart of the contract sum. These items are generally selected when you are a month or two away from substantial completion. They are typically purchased by the owner directly and then installed by the contractor. So make sure you do have these ready for install when the contractor asks.
- Cabinet Hardware
- Door Hardware
- Shower Glass
- Bathroom Accessories
I hope these tips are helpful and easing some of your stress during this crazy process of home building or remodeling. If you get really stuck or don't have time to do these selections yourself, many design professionals will work hourly or for a percentage of your budget. The advantage is having someone who has done this before, manage the entire process for you- I think that's pretty valuable!