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Anyone who owns a home has a mental picture of how it could be better. Maybe it’s opening up the kitchen to a gathering area, or maybe it’s adding a walk-in shower or a whirlpool tub to the master bath. These visions are an important starting point in your home improvement plans, helping to narrow your choices in a world of possibilities.
However, it is often difficult to describe an idea in your head to your spouse or members of your family, much less to a remodeling contractor. It can be frustrating and time-consuming to try to put your dreams into words. To turn the mental vision into reality, it is critical to document your dreams in a way that allows you and others to see what you envision. Hands down, the best way to do that is with pictures.
Begin by gathering a stack of home and lifestyle magazines (friends will be glad to give you back issues of “Metropolitan Home,” “Country Living,” or whatever stack of magazines is littering their living room) and scan through them for photos of homes, rooms, and other features that match those in your head. When you see something you like, cut it out and set it aside. Similarly, if you see an article about a particular feature, floor plan, material, or product that sparks your interest, clip it out, as well.
The trick to this exercise is to work freely. Don’t think about it too hard. Later, you may discard images that on second glance don’t measure up or aren’t important to you anymore. Allow yourself to be open to new things that you may not have envisioned, but that are attractive or interesting in some way. It all helps in formulating a clear idea of what you want in your remodeled home.
For example, suppose that you see a photograph of a room that is bold and eccentric. It is an outrageous room, one you could not live with. Still, there is something about it that is appealing. Although you are not sure what it is that attracts you, save that photo, too. When you look at it later, you may find that it is the rich wall color and the complexity of texture that draws you. Make a note in the margin: “wall color and complex texture — yes, blue staircase and exposed ductwork — no.”
Another tip: Allow sufficient time to build a good collection of photos and clipped articles. This is your home and your project. It deserves considered thought rather than a weekend rush job. That being said, a reasonable deadline will ensure that the process does not grow stale and fizzle out.
Why not make this creation a family affair? If you have a spouse or other household members to consider, encourage them to build their own dream files or to participate with you. Take time to discuss, consolidate, and arrange file contents in order of importance. In this way, you are prepared to make mutual decisions about different options as you work on design, budget, and product selection with your remodeler.
The form of your ‘dream file’ is a personal choice. You can create a collage or simply allow the clips to remain loose in a folder. Another idea is to organize your collection by categories such as exterior and interior features, types of materials, or by room. The clarity of your vision will enable a contractor to provide better service. If you have arranged your file in order of importance, the remodeler will be able to suggest how best to integrate your ideas into your existing home and address your most important wants and needs first.
As a professional remodeling contractor, we appreciate clients who know what they want and can effectively communicate those needs and desires. Documenting your dreams with a collection of photos and articles will not only crystallize your dreams for you and your family, but also provide critical information for a remodeler and his team as you begin your remodeling project.
Todd Allen Miller, RA-PP
QMA Design+Build, LLC
5000 Boardwalk, Suite 2
Ventnor, NJ 08406
NJ New Home Builder License #037561
NJ Home Improvement Contractor #13VH01107300
(609) 822-4949 – phone
(609) 822-4429 – fax
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