Walking through a Model Home can be at once exhilarating and overwhelming. On the one hand the possibilities ignite your creativity and love of design, but on the other, the sheer volume of choices can feel paralyzing – especially when you’re working within a specific budget.
Relax. It’s going to be fun. And if you follow some basic guidelines and familiarize yourself with options and inclusions, it doesn’t have to be stressful. Here’s our 8-step guide to designing your new build, without pulling your hair out.

  1. Choose the right homesite. Keep in mind the old adage “you can change everything about a house except its location.” Choose your community and homesite carefully. Drive around the area at different times of the day. How does the light change from morning to evening? Is there one street that is busier or quieter than another? Although often the best homesites command more expensive site premiums, it can be worth it (and make a difference when you go to resell) to be near open space, a walking path, or other desirable geographical element.

  2. Choose the right floorplan. Perhaps it goes without saying that you should choose a layout that works best for you. If you need all four bedrooms upstairs, then make that part of your firm criteria. If an open great room that flows effortlessly into the kitchen is a priority, then stick to your guns. Every Shea Homes® community has a variety of floorplans to pick from, and  Shea3D® even allows you to tailor your floorplan to fit your own personal tastes and needs. And of course nothing beats an in-person visit to the Model Home to get a good feel for the place.

  3. Don’t get (too) distracted by the model home. Shea Homes hires expert designers to deck out their homes, and when you walk into a model you may feel like you are actually getting to know the make-believe family who lives there (and you may love every choice!). Remember, most finishes in the home can be personalized to your tastes, meaning if you don’t like the penny tile in the bathroom or the waterfall granite in the kitchen, you can choose something different.

  4. Get familiar with what’s included in the base price. Remember, the model is designed to showcase not only the floor plan itself, but also its options. Base models come outfitted with quality finishes as well. Some upgrades will be worth splurging for (hello, walkout basement and utility sink in the laundry room!), while others may not be a priority for your situation.

  5. Focus on the functional things. Functional items like extra closets, wet bars, a shower instead of a bath, and a loft versus a bedroom can make it easier to do the things you love (cook, entertain, play with the kids, etc.). As you walk through the model, ask yourself how you would use each space, and whether or not certain elements would make your everyday life more enjoyable. If the answer is consistently “yes,” then they might be worth spending the money on.

  6. Think about color and balance. No matter what kind of floor, cabinet, tile or paint color you choose, it’s important that everything works together. In general, you’ll want to group cool colors together (think of greys, whites, and nickel finishes) and warm colors together (think oiled bronze, earth tones, and creamier whites). Your Shea Homes designer will help you visualize how all of these things work together with a lifestyle questionnaire and a 2-3 hour appointment at the design center.

  7. Have fun with the details. Here are a few cosmetic features that you may want to think about:

    • Doors – Ask your salesperson to point out the difference between standard height doors or extra tall ones. You may also get the option of sliding barn doors, multi-panel glass pantry doors, and multi-slide or glass doors that fold like an accordion to open up an entire wall. Take note of the examples you like in person, and file them away for decision-making later.

    • Hardware – Railings, doorknobs, faucets, and cabinet handles may not seem like the most exciting details, but they are among the choices you’ll get to make on your new home. As a rule of thumb, choose metals in the same color family – for example, opt for all oiled bronze or all nickel for consistency. Don’t overthink this one.

    • Cabinets – Though certain cabinet configurations and finishes will come standard with the base price, for people who love extra room to stow mixing bowls, rice cookers, and wine decanters, there are plenty of additional cabinet options to store all of the things. 

    • Sinks – Home chefs love extra prep sinks, while mixologists love sinks in the bar. Are you a true sink aficionado? Shea Homes has fancy options for you. Just ask.

    • Fireplaces – Opt for a sleek, chic modern fireplace that spans half the wall or a more traditional log setup with a blower that warms the living room. You probably know already whether you gravitate toward modern or rustic/traditional.

    • Floors – Whether you’re a fan of distressed wide-plank hardwood, marble hexagon tile, or lush, soft carpet, the model will have lots of styles and textures to admire. Your salesperson will have a design board on hand to show you what comes standard – and remember there are other available finishes that might fit the bill (and your budget) perfectly. Watch and learn more about floor design trends here.

    • Ceilings – Coffered? With beam detail? Tongue and groove knotty pine? Depending on your personal tastes and the overall design of the home, a ceiling treatment might “make” a room. Don’t get hung up on this detail, but do look up every once in awhile to see if something sparks your imagination

  8. Pause and enjoy the process. Take frequent breaks, keep your sense of humor, and remember - you are one of the lucky few who gets to design a home from the ground up! This should be a rewarding creative process – and the final product is none other than your dream home. Work with your family on budget and top priorities, and then relish every creative moment.

Questions about the design process? Our Shea Homes team can help. Visit https://www.sheahomes.com/home-buying-process/ to learn more about the home-buying process, or stop into one of our sales centers today. Let the dreaming begin.

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