Design Planning: Wants vs. Needs in Your Renovation

May 31, 2017

It's easy to get lost in the beautiful pictures on websites and in design magazines, and it can be hard to distinguish between wants verses needs in your renovation. See our tips on how to make your dreams a reality, no matter what your budget may be. 


Image via H. Gary Frank Architects

1. Likes & Dislikes

This may sound easier than it really easy, because most people identify with a certain style- modern, contemporary, transitional, cottage, rustic. But each style has many different design variables, and it can be difficult to narrow the scope of exactly what you want when you love so much of what you see or when you have too many options to choose from. The first step should be to compile images, no more than 3-5 per room, and talk it over with your family. You may absolutely love open shelving, but it's a deal breaker for your spouse. 



Image via H. Gary Frank Architects

2. Utilizing Every Square Inch

Now it’s time to look critically at how you live in your current home. Ask yourself the following questions about your current living situation. Spend some time on each one and be as critical as you can and then put your ideas down on paper. 

  • What do you like about where you live and what don’t you like?
  • Which rooms do you prefer to spend time in and which do you rarely use?
  • What is it specifically that you like and dislike about these spaces?
  • Which functions of your lifestyle do you feel are well-addressed and which ones are not?
  • If you could improve just one thing, what would it be, regardless of cost and practicality?




3. Analyze the List

Next, look at each of the rooms on your list in turn, using a separate page or document for each, and consider the following questions:

  • What specific activities will normally happen in this space (for a kitchen, this may be eating or socializing in addition to cooking)?
  • What furniture will you want to put in the spaces you are going to design? Include any built-in storage you think you may need. Look back at your storage list and make sure you include the storage requirements for each room.
  • Can you categorize the room in some way? Would you call it a public or a private space? Is it open or closed, inward- or outward-looking? Will it be a primary or secondary space in your home?
  • Can you combine two or more of the rooms on your list? Consider multi functional spaces that can serve different purposes at different times. This is a great way to start to rationalize your list.
  • Now revisit the qualities and feelings you identified from your list of likes, as well your analysis of the rooms you enjoy spending time in. What qualities do you want each of the rooms on your list to have? This may include access to natural light at certain times of the day, or feelings of spaciousness, comfort, warmth, serenity or cleanliness, for example. Think about rooms in your current home that you rarely use and make sure you aren’t simply replicating them in your new home



beach-style-porch (1).jpg

Image via Evens Architects


4. Decide on What Tops the List

 After you've gone through the likes and dislikes, now it's time to think about the haves and have-nots. After doing your homework, you know the backsplash tile will cost almost as much as your new fridge. You tell yourself that it is SO pretty and you MUST have it, but everything within a renovation has a place within a budget. Splurging on the have-nots will easily make any renovation spiral out of control. You may have to make a compromise on a different area of your renovation in order to fit everything within your budget. 



Image via lisa rubenstein - real rooms design

5. Don't Forget About the Long Term

You should now have a good handle on the specifics of each room. It’s time to take a step back and think about the project as a whole. As with any project, it’s important to establish a clear list of goals from the outset. These goals will help guide the decision-making process as you move forward, and form a handy touchstone when you face difficult choices or conflicting opinions.

They might be environmental goals, such as minimizing energy use or water consumption, or economic goals, such as maximizing affordability and minimizing ongoing maintenance costs. Your goals could also be personal ones, such as allowing for flexibility toward any future lifestyle changes or creating the perfect place to hold lavish dinner parties. Think of your goals as the values you want your final design to embody.



Image via Studio 512


If you live in the Northern Virginia area and you’re interested in a free estimate, or would like to know how Lensis Builders, Inc. can make your home even better, give us a call at 703-367-8999 or fill out a short contact form. If you’re looking for inspiration for your next project, visit our Pinterest page. 

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