Step three: Measure all the rooms in your current home or apartment. If you are in a very small space, measure the rooms in a parents' or friends' home to get a good feel for what you can do with a 12'x12' room. Sometimes making a room just one or two feet wider, solves a major problem. People tend to overcompensate for spaces that really challenge them, such as kitchens and closets. Start by adding a little more space than you have now and see if that makes the whole room work better. It doesn't usually work to just double the space because that can really take away functionality. Space can be created with volume or combining spaces, it doesn't always have to be solved by adding square footage. While you have the tape measure out, measure all the furniture you have or plan on having. It's easier to plan for large or special pieces now than it is when you are moving in.
Most people don't have a very good feel on how big 12'x14' really is and if that is big enough for a queen sized bed. I can often show them by increasing that room size by only inches, that their new home will fit and feel much larger than they think. I have some clients who don't follow this step and continue to guess at how much bigger they need to go with their new house. If I could point out to them the size they requested for their bedroom is equal to the size of their current family room, they would probably realize quite quickly that that's probably more than they need. Measuring furniture is just as important, not only for the client to evaluate what they are really willing to move, but for me to plan spaces for oversized pieces. I will never forget the family I worked with for many months on designing the "perfect" home, only to get a call six months later asking me where I thought the baby grand piano should go. Not once during all our meetings, discussions or personal conversations was a piano brought up, much less, a baby grand. That's when I began assigning homework.
Step four: Gather ideas. Collect pictures from magazines, books or product literature of anything you like or inspires you in any way. It can be a color that makes you happy, a texture from a carpet or the shadowing on a wall, save the picture. Save floor plans you like or take pictures of homes you have always been attracted to. Start collecting as soon as you get that first thought about designing and building a new home. Keep everything in one place and make sure you make notes on each picture as to what it was that inspired you to keep it. Share all these pictures and comments with your designer to develop a concept for your own, unique home.
I'm surprised how often new clients will bring me huge folders of ideas they have saved. First of all because they did this on their own, without anyone suggesting it and secondly the shear volume of stuff people are attracted to. They will lay this huge bundle on my desk and tell me for what it's worth, they like everything in the whole stack. That's great, because it means there are a lot of things that they would be happy with-noboby gets the whole stack in one house! We will spread the pictures out and they will usually tell me they don't really know why they like each picture, they just do. I can almost always pick up on a reoccuring theme to their pictures. There will be a common thread that they didn't realize is there. Either all the trim work is painted white, the cabinets are two tone, the most common color is some shade of green, the rooms have clean lines or are filled with overstuffed furniture. There is always something common throughout the collection. When I point this out, they are amazed that they have been so consistant in selecting picture with the same look. This is what "home" feels like to them and this is what they will always feel drawn to when designing their new home.