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How to get the most out of your First Design Meeting

October 23, 2019

So you have decided to take the next step with your building project – Congratulations! You are now on your way…
The design phase can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you’re not too sure what you want. Along the way, it is not unusual to change your mind about certain elements of the design and style, and that’s OK – we love to see ideas grow and creativity flourish! Meeting face to face with your builders’ designer or architect is a great way to get the juices flowing for your project. If your builder is well connected (this is important) he/she should be able to recommend a good designer or architect, and one who they have worked with before. This makes the collaborative process run more smoothly.

To make the most out of your first meeting it is important to ask yourself some questions beforehand so you can be better prepared.

1.  What style or feel are you looking for?

It is important to consider what you want the end result to look like.  A great way to do this is to buy yourself some home renovation magazines and start compiling a montage of images that you like. Take your time with this and enjoy it – we recommend a lazy Sunday morning with plenty of magazines, coffee and croissants (child-free if possible). Try not to restrict yourself to only one style at this stage, and collect a variety of different styles and designs that you like. This will help you figure out what it is you like if you don’t already know. Even if you think you already know what you like, it might help you discover new styles that you haven’t already considered. It is useful to bring this along to your first meeting with your designer and it will go a long way to helping the designer or architect work out what materials to use for your project.

2.  What rooms do you want to be renovated?

This one seems like a no-brainer but bear in mind that renovating one space will affect the adjoining spaces as well. If you renovate only your open kitchen, for example, will the dining or living area connected to it feel dated afterwards? Even if your budget or schedule demands a one-room-at-a-time approach, it’s important to consider how one renovated space will affect the next and to plan accordingly. A good designer might be able to work with you to explore different options in ensuring that adjoining rooms or spaces have the right feel to them – and it is important to discuss this with your designer in one of your first meetings.

3.  What’s your budget?

Do you have a budget? If so, this will play an integral part in the design process.  Don’t be afraid to say what your budget is so the design can reflect what you can afford. You will naturally spend more than you originally set out to do, so ensure you have money left over in the budget, don’t max it out.  Create a design that can be completed well within your budget.

4.  What is your priority?

Do you just want to add value to your property to sell it later on? Or is the plan to stay put and make the most of what you have created? It is important to create a priority list, especially if you have a strict budget.  It is easy to get carried away when you are in the thick of renovating, but be mindful that your renovation budget can blow out very quickly and often does if you haven’t prioritised. A good designer should be able to assist you in creating a clear list of priorities – which ultimately will help you stay on track!

5.  What is the new space for?

Knowing you want a new kitchen is half the battle, but what kitchen design best suits you? Do you love to cook and entertain your friends? Is the kitchen a space for the whole family at breakfast time, or does the cook of the house rule the kitchen space with an iron fist? The answers to these questions will greatly impact your kitchen design.  The same can be said for all spaces of the home. Everyone is different and it’s important to communicate how each space is used so the design can lend itself to your needs.

6.  What’s the process?

Find out from your designer/architect/builder what the processes are and how long each stage takes.  A great design will take time so be prepared to delve deep into your creative side!

Some key questions to consider asking the designer about the process include:

  • How long will it take to complete once we start renovating?
  • Is it practical for me to live here during construction or should I find alternate accommodation?
  • What are the different fees associated with getting approval?
  • When do I engage a builder?


Finally, ask your designer to show you their portfolio to get a feel of their style and experience. If you love their previous work, you are on to a good thing.
If not…need I say, keep looking!