Renovation Design Group
Planning leads to a consistent style, like this craftsman bungalow living room.

Have you ever let a Nordstrom sales associate pick out a new outfit for you with no input at all? Or would you let a hair stylist choose your new hairstyle and surprise you with the result? While some people are happy to let the experts take over in a given situation, most want to be more involved. They may walk around Nordstrom with a sales associate to get ideas, but they already know that they look terrible in pink, or that they need jeans, not a dress. Or they may want a new hairstyle, but they have collected pictures of ones they like.

Home renovation projects are no different. Knowing what you like and doing your homework will ease the process and make you a more integral part. Renovating a house involves a team of design professionals, contractors — and you, the homeowner. To be a good team member and to have a successful project, you should educate yourself, form opinions and learn to communicate your ideas to others.

There are several ways you can learn about design, architecture, building products and technology. The fact that you are reading this column is a great start. Also, visit a bookstore or a home-improvement store to find magazines and books with glossy photos and informative articles.

Watch television shows about home design and remodeling. Visit the public library's architecture section. Attend the Parade of Homes. Search the Internet. Attend public lectures at the University of Utah, or attend free community seminars. Drive through neighborhoods and be an observer of homes.

As you gather information, you'll begin to identify what appeals to you and define your personal design style. When you know what you like, you will not be swayed by every neighbor's or relative's opinion. When undertaking a home renovation, the reality is that you must commit to a style or risk ending up with a project that is no style at all.

Finally, by exposing yourself to architectural books, articles or seminars, you will learn vocabulary to help you communicate your opinions effectively and clearly to the professionals on your team.

Also, a picture is truly worth a thousand words. Keep a file and fill it with pictures and articles that appeal to you. This file will be invaluable in communicating what you like and what you hope for your home. It then becomes the architect's job to take all of your ideas into consideration, along with their own, to come up with a cohesive, well-designed solution.

And remember, no matter if you hope to remodel this year or in five years, it is never too early to learn your design style.


Architects Ann Robinson and Annie Vernon are the founding principals of Renovation Design Group, www.renovationdesigngroup.com, a local residential architectural firm.