While there are many factors that should play into finding a home, interior design is a big one – especially if you have a specific vision. As a designer, you undoubtedly look at houses a bit differently than the average person. So, when it comes time to find a place of your own, it’s important to select a home that not only fits your needs but fits your vision, as well.
Home-buying with design in mind is easier than you might think. As long as you’re willing to manage your expectations and let your imagination go to work, there’s no denying that you can find your dream house.
Even if you end up going with a “fixer-upper,” you can use it as a clean slate and an open palette to design things the way you want.
With that in mind, let’s cover a few house-hunting tips you can use to find the perfect home for your vision, and how you can revamp certain areas to meet your needs and wants.
Don’t Ignore the Bones
As you’re on your house-hunting journey, you’ll step into a variety of homes from different decades. You might immediately be tempted to think about how you can fit your personal style into each one. But, make sure you’re taking a look at the whole house — including the structure — when you have design elements in mind. Some homes might already have architectural details that are incredibly unique and could once again be brought to life. Keep your eyes open for elements like:
- Nooks and alcoves
- Large entrances
- Dutch doors
- Window seats
- Original crown molding
Additionally, don’t be afraid to consider homes that are ready for renovation. Even if you invest in a fixer-upper, it’s likely going to be less stressful than building a home from the ground up. Plus, if you can get your hands on a historic property with good bones, you can bring it back to its glory, highlighting the way it used to look while pulling it forward into the 21st century. It’s important to allow for some flexibility with your vision, so you can let your imagination spring to life with every property you see.
Know How to Negotiate
Whether you decide on an older property, a home that needs a lot of work, or even a house that was newly constructed, it’s essential to know what to look for that might help you negotiate a lower price. It’s standard practice to go through a home inspection, and a licensed inspector will be able to inform you of issues like:
- Foundational issues
- Roof quality
- Plumbing problems
- Faulty or dangerous electrical wiring
- A tired HVAC system
These things can all be repaired and updated, but doing so can be costly. When you’re making an offer for the home, make sure you take these repairs into consideration and include a clause that creates room for negotiation after you receive the inspector’s report. It’s okay to make an offer on a home before the inspection as long as you make sure the seller knows your offer might change depending on the state of the house.
If the seller likes your offer but wants a bit more, they might end up sending back a counteroffer that lands somewhere between their listing price and your offer. It’s a good rule of thumb to have a firm budget in mind, as well as a pre-approval letter before making an offer on any home. Doing so will let you know what you can offer and how much you can “bend” when it comes to negotiating counteroffers. Keep in mind, however, that you shouldn’t stretch yourself too thin on the home purchase, itself. Even if no real repairs need to be done, you’ll want to leave room in your budget for cosmetic renovations and design work.
Consider Practical Design Elements
As an interior designer, it’s easy to look at a space and think about what you can add to make it more beautiful. However, it’s important to look at the existing practical design elements of a home before you make a purchase.
Instead of strictly thinking about “beautifying” your new home, consider what you can do to implement both design and practicality. For example, you might consider getting new windows or having new insulation put in to improve the warmth of the space. Or, take a look at the current duct plans to determine whether you can hire a professional to centralize the system.
Not only do these practical solutions create a home that runs more efficiently, but making these kinds of upgrades will help to lower your utility bills. Designing a more energy-efficient home in the 21st century is a wonderful way to save money and do something good for the planet, especially since so many homes built in the past didn’t have the technology or supplies we have today. Remember that your design efforts should always go deeper than the surface if you plan on enjoying every aspect of your new home.
You have the unique advantage of a vibrant imagination when it comes to every property you look at. While seeing a clear vision in a potential home is important, make sure you dig a little deeper as you go through the house-hunting process, so you can be sure to select a home that will not only look great, but will provide a source of practical comfort and security for you and your family.
This post was authored by Sam Bowman.