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Designing Your Dream Kitchen

May 27, 2020
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Once your floor plan has been selected, you’ve found the perfect lot, and the signatures are complete, it’s time to move to the part of buying a new construction home that is arguably the most fun – design. Whether you have a specific vision of how you want your home to look and feel or if you’re relying on the Brookfield Residential Design Studio for inspiration and guidance, the design process consistently ranks as homebuyers’ favorite part of the process. Since the kitchen is considered the “heart of the home,” we connected with Erika Burns, Design Center Manager at the Brookfield Residential Austin Design Studio, for more information on their process for helping you design the kitchen of your dreams.

What does the design process look like for a homebuyer who comes in and wants to design their dream kitchen for a home they’ve just purchased?

After the contract has been signed, you’ll schedule a few appointments with one of our design experts at the Brookfield Residential Design Studio. We will meet at different stages throughout the building process to select the perfect finishes to match your taste and budget. We work hard with our homebuyers to help them create their dream kitchens by figuring out their style, working within their budget, and ensuring the final look is cohesive, functional, and meets their style goals.

How do you discover a client’s design style?

There are different ways we acquire a homebuyer’s style. When we schedule the appointment, we prepare the client by walking them through the design process and asking them style questions such as: 

  1. Are you bringing any existing furniture pieces or are you buying all new furniture? If you have furniture you love and are bringing to the new space, it’s helpful if you have photos so we can choose finishes that will complement those existing pieces.
  2. What style do you gravitate towards? Homebuyers often know that they want a farmhouse chic feel, prefer an ultra-modern, sleek design, etc. If you have a general design look you’re hoping to accomplish, we can help you select finishes that fit that goal.
  3. Do you have inspiration photos? If not, it’s a great idea to create a look book of what you like (and don’t like). We love the Houzz app – it’s easy and quick to figure out what your design tastes are with plenty of photos to guide you.
  4. Have you tried the “wish list” within our design program? This allows homebuyers to select items from the comfort of their own home giving them more time to explore options and compare against their budget.

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The design process can be overwhelming for some, how do you help homebuyers choose their materials (cabinet type, countertops, backsplash, hardware, appliances, etc.)?

We take our time and start with the foundational pieces such as cabinets, flooring, and countertops. We determine what their style goals are, what finishes meet those goals, and how the kitchen will be used beyond cooking. Is this a breakfast bar where kids will be doing homework and the counter needs to be crayon resistant? Are you the entertaining hub and the oversized island countertop shouldn’t be vulnerable to wine stains? Once those big selections have been made, everything else just falls into place.

For a homebuyer who has the dream of designing a chef’s kitchen, but doesn’t necessarily have the budget to attain it, what would you recommend they spend their budget on?

I recommend the homebuyer focus their budget on items that would be difficult and time-consuming to tackle later. Cabinets, countertops, flooring, and wall tile are all big items that are easier to design from a blank slate than deal with after moving in. Plumbing is another big-ticket item that is best handled when the walls are already open. It can be costly to go back and make changes to your plumbing at a later date.

If you had to give tips or a piece of advice for each of the kitchen subcategories below, what would they be?

Materials (countertops, backsplash) – If you are selecting a natural stone such as granite, it’s important to understand that there is a variation from what you see in the Design Studio or the image provided online and the final slab that gets installed. We like to say natural stone is “like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get” as the final installed product may vary from the sample. If that is something that makes you nervous, there are other great options such as quartz that can give you a natural stone feel but provide a more consistent look.

Cabinets – The details make all the difference. Small upgrades such as soft-close doors or pull-out drawers can elevate the functionality of the kitchen in a big way. You want your kitchen to not only look good, but last the test of time.

Lighting – Different styles of lighting accomplish different goals and layering the lighting is the best way to get the most out of your kitchen. Ambient lighting such as recessed lighting brightens the space while task lighting such as undercabinet lights makes sure you can see what you’re doing with that sharp knife. Add in some over-island pendants for your accent lighting and the space is complete.

Appliances – If your budget allows, it’s worth the investment to upgrade your appliances. If you love to cook, you may want to opt for the six-burner cooktop. Prefer to bake? Upgrade to the double oven.

Designing your dream kitchen doesn’t have to be an overwhelming process and can actually be a lot of fun. When styling the kitchen of your dreams in your new Brookfield Residential home, the experts at the Design Studio is the perfect team to help you create your best place to call home.

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