Everyone has a vision about a dream home. The dream may have a particular style, such as a Mediterranean or Colonial, or perhaps a certain room is the focus, such as an idealized kitchen or master suite. These visions are an important starting point in your search for a new house, helping to narrow your choices in a world of possibilities.
However, it is often difficult to describe an idea in your head to your spouse or other members of your family, much less to a builder or architect trying to build the house that matches that vision. It can be frustrating and time-consuming to translate dreams into words. To turn the mental vision into reality, it is critical to document your dreams in a way that allows you and others to see what you envision. Hands down, the best way to do that is with pictures.
Begin by gathering a stack of home and lifestyle magazines (friends will be glad to give you back issues of “Metropolitan Home,” “Southern Living,” or
whatever stack of magazines is littering their living room) and scan through them for photos of homes, rooms, and other features that match those in your head. When you see something you like, cut it out and set it aside. Similarly, if you see an article about a particular feature, floor plan, material, or product that sparks your interest, clip it out, as well.
The trick to this exercise is to work freely. Don’t think about it too hard. Later, you may discard images that, on second glance, don’t measure up or aren’t important to you anymore. Allow yourself to be open to new things that you may not have envisioned, but that are attractive or interesting in some way. It all helps in formulating a clear idea of what you want and will search for in a new home.
For example, suppose that you see a photograph of a room that is bold and eccentric. It is an outrageous room, one you could not live with. Still, there is something about it that is appealing. Although you are not sure what it is that attracts you, save that photo, too. When you look at it later, you may find that it is the rich wall color and the complexity of texture that draws you. Make a note in the margin: “wall color and complex texture — yes, blue staircase and exposed ductwork — no.”
Remember that styles change. Some variables, such as color palettes and types of kitchen cabinets, will inevitably give way to something new. In your research, branch out to back issues of magazines, as well as resources on the Internet, in libraries and in bookstores. Give yourself a broad range of material to consider so that you gain perspective and an understanding of what characteristics are really important to you.
Another tip: Allow sufficient time to build a good collection of photos and clipped articles. Spend a few weeks or even months, whatever it takes to have some fun and feel good about it. Remember, this is your dream home. It deserves considered thought rather than a weekend rush job. That being said, a reasonable deadline will ensure that the process does not grow stale and fizzle out.
If you have a spouse or other household members to consider, encourage them to build their own dream files or to participate with you. Either way, once one or multiple files are completed, take additional time to discuss, consolidate, and arrange file contents in order of importance. In this way, you are prepared to make mutual decisions about conflicting options, if necessary, when shopping for a house.
The best way to present your dream file is up to you. You can create a collage or simply allow the clips to remain loose in a folder. Another idea is to organize your collection by categories such as exterior and interior features, types of materials, or by room. The clarity of your vision will enable a builder or architect to provide better service. If you have arranged your file in order of importance, they will be able to suggest homes or create designs that address your most important wants and needs first.
Professional builders truly appreciate buyers who know what they want and can effectively communicate those needs and desires. Documenting your dreams with a collection of photos and articles will not only crystallize your dreams for you and your family, but also provide critical information for a builder as you begin your search for a new home.