- Photos by Sadie Thibodeaux
Local experts provide insight into putting the finishing touches on your custom home.
In our homebuilding series, we’ve been following Bennett and Alexis Arey through the process of building their custom home (pictured above). This fifth and final installment focuses on the finishing touches of the build process.
“Seeing my ideas and design style come to life has been super fun, but also harder than anticipated,” says Alexis. “You have to meet design deadlines, and it’s so hard not to second guess every decision you’re making. It’s also very easy to have something in your mind that’s a “must have” until you see the price tag and realize you need to reign yourself back in.”
Alexis adds that her design style has changed a lot from their first home to their second, but what has remained constant is her love of neutral colors. “My favorite design style comes out of northwest Florida in the Seaside and Rosemary Beach area,” she says. “I try to avoid saying coastal, but I love the light colors, light kitchens, shiplap, and overall simplicity. Our house has been chosen very carefully with things I see as classic rather than trendy. There will be a touch of modern with some black light fixtures, but overall we’ll use simple and classic furniture to make it feel cozy.”
When working on finishing, sometimes the design of a house lends itself better to customization. “We realized early on that, since our ceilings were 10 foot throughout, we would need custom cabinetry,” Alexis adds. “Six Branch is a custom woodworker that Anderson Homes (their builder) works with regularly. After reviewing their work, it seemed they could give us what we wanted while providing a super high-quality product.”
To others getting ready to go through the process of building their home, Alexis offers this advice: “This can be a super fun process or it can be extremely stressful. My most important piece of advice is to know what’s most important to you from the beginning and stick to your guns on those things. Be willing to budge on other things.”
The Areys are looking forward to the completion of their new home. “I think my favorite part of the process is still yet to come,” says Alexis. “In the next month, we should see flooring, cabinetry, and finishes of the house start to take place. That’s what I’m looking forward to most!”
“Interior design is an art, and like all art, you need to find the artist that aligns with your taste,” says Anne Tuckley, owner of Anne Tuckley Home.
In terms of new construction, Anne says the biggest challenge is determining the true function of the space. How you use the space helps determine the appliance choice, colors, surface type, flooring, and more.
“Carefully analyze upfront cost versus resale cost — the inexpensive option may give out faster, requiring a full replacement before you would sell the house,” says Anne. She adds that you frequently come out ahead, as the upscale product can increase the value of your home, but there are other factors to consider. “If you have kids and pets, you’ll want more durable surfaces that are easy to clean and may not want to splurge on that white sofa, or even white walls.”
Don’t forget about the lighting. “Determine how the natural light hits a room and supplement with artificial lights. This is particularly important if building a house, since it can affect wiring for overhead lights and sconces. Standard locations for light installation may not be optimal for that particular room,” Anne says.
When looking at current trends, Anne says sustainability is huge. “People are wanting to be eco-conscious in all aspects of their life including their home design,” she says. “Along those same lines, people are wanting to meld their environments so that there is a fluidity between outdoor spaces and indoor spaces.”
Anne adds: “Decorating a home is a balance. It is your space. It should reflect your personality, but at the same time, consider how long you will likely have the home. If you might live in your home for less than five years, consider neutral palettes for resale value. You can always reflect your personality in your furnishings and accessories.”
Fixtures and Appliances
“When looking for an appliance company, I’d encourage customers to look for an independent appliance dealer,” says Lauren Helmreich, sales manager with Downtown Appliance. “For customers that are building a home, we first ask them to tell us a little about what they are hoping for. We discuss colors of the kitchen and what colors they feel will best fit their style. We work directly with the homeowner, builder, cabinetmakers, etcetera to ensure that everything works seamlessly.”
In new construction, options are limitless, often making it difficult to choose. “Appliances come in a variety of colors and styles now,” says Lauren. “I would tell customers to have an open mind when coming to shop for appliances. Let us show you all there is to offer, because we may have something that you never would have thought would work for you.”
A current trend they’re seeing is a move away from traditional stainless-steel appliances and a move towards fingerprint-resistant material. “Another current trend is Wi-Fi enabled appliances, which help customers make their everyday lives a little less hectic.” There are now options for Wi-Fi enabled refrigerators that tell you if a door is open or if something is wrong with the unit. Wi-Fi enabled ranges allow you to preheat your oven from a cell phone.
Ryan Skipton, branch manager of Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery, suggests visiting a showroom where you can touch and feel the products in a welcoming, hands-on environment. Ferguson’s showroom features a lighting area with brands such as Hinkley, Fanimation, and Progress Lighting. The showroom also has fixtures including chandeliers, pendants, wall sconces, under-cabinet lighting, and more. In addition to lighting and traditional plumbing products, Ferguson also offers appliances from top manufacturers.
Ryan offers a tip to people designing their homes: “Bring elements that represent your style to the showroom. Bring along magazine photographs, color swatches, paint chips, rug patterns, or anything else that reflects your vision for your home. Our product experts can pair these with product samples in the showroom.”
Flooring and Furnishing
“What helps set us apart for people with new construction is the fact that we do both furniture and flooring,” says Jake Baumgartner, of Baumgartner’s Furniture. “Covering both categories makes it easy to arrange delivery of your new furniture right after your flooring installation. It really helps customer’s timelines and cuts down on the number of companies or people involved. Also, we’ve been doing both for a long time — we’re celebrating 70 years in business this year.”
In addition, Baumgartner’s offers to store new construction customer’s purchases until they’re ready for delivery. “Stuff happens and construction projects get delayed all the time,” says Jake. “The last thing a person wants to worry about is where to store their new furniture until their house gets done.”
A good tip is to take your time to plan when looking for furniture to complete your house. “Get the right dimensions of the pieces and lay them out in the rooms,” Jake says. “A good tip is to use painter’s tape on the floor to lay everything out. This will give you an idea of the size of the walkways in between pieces and just how much room you will truly have.”
Jake says there are a couple current trends he’s seeing. “One, you don’t have to stick with one style throughout your home,” he says. “There’s so much blending of different looks happening from room to room. Two, functionality and comfort are becoming just as important as the look of an item. I think the days of the uncomfortable, formal living rooms are gone.”
When choosing a reputable landscaping business, Jake Frink, design manager at Rost Inc., says word-of-mouth and referrals are still reliable sources.
After more than 35 years in business in Mid-Missouri, Rost has a knowledge bank of experience that allows them to think and design creatively, yet functionally. “It seems one of the biggest benefits of having Rost Inc. on a project is the ability to take a plan or idea and enhance it even further in the field. The on-site eye during the build phase is critical,” Jake says. They also have a trusted group of vendors and subcontractors that allow them to build in a wide range of styles, from traditional to trendy.
“We have plant inventory unmatched by any company in Mid-Missouri. We grow much of our own material on local growing farms,” he adds.
Jake says a big challenge with new construction landscaping is it often takes place near the end of the build. “Too often we see beautiful, newly built homes with magnificent features on the inside and no appeal or thoughtfulness on the outside. Landscaping is often an afterthought to many builders, when actual landscaping and outdoor spaces have a huge influence on the finish of a home.”
One tip is to plan and budget the exterior of your home with a landscape designer early in the process.
“Landscaping is much more than just a handful of plants around the house,” says Jake. “So many new homes have a cookie-cutter appeal of concrete finishes and simple plants. The most enjoyable landscapes have a custom look and feel and are an integrated part of the outdoor space and experience. Hardscapes, lighting, irrigation, plants, boulders, and fire pits, should all be integrated and thoughtfully and creatively incorporated to give a custom look.”
Turf, Tree Care, and Irrigation
“Many contractors and homebuyers see the value in providing for the water needs of their lawn and landscapes and help ensure that their investment in their home is protected,” says Shaun Henry, turf and tree care manager with Atkins Inc. “There’s nothing worse than losing a newly sodded lawn to a drought!”
Shaun, who’s been with Atkins for nearly 20 years, says they’re a great resource in helping find solutions for their customer’s properties. “With buried construction debris, clay soil, a lack of topsoil and organic matter, having the wrong plant in the wrong place, and a host of other issues that new homeowners often have, growing grass, trees, and shrubs can be a real challenge,” he says. “Once we establish the root cause of the issues on the property, we try to formulate a plan of action.”
Shaun says one of the biggest challenges with new construction is finding the balance between what looks good and what will survive the Mid-Missouri seasons.
“Look at it in the future. Will it be overgrown or appear over-planted in 10 years? Don’t plant trees too close to the house either,” Shaun says. “Also look at it from a maintenance point of view. Are there maintenance challenges ahead that can be avoided with a change to the plan now?”