selecting building materials

How to select interior materials like a pro!

Spring is right around the corner and maybe you’re planning on remodeling, or building a new home…  Many people find making material selections one of the hardest things to do.  Why?  Because there are so many options, styles, and colors that it can be overwhelming.  You may be thinking “Where do I even begin??”

  Break it down and it can be quite simple:


Step 1:  Finding what inspires you.

It all starts here.  Have you always wanted to have a vessel sink?  Or have you been coveting hardwood floors for years but have never had them?  Now’s the time to have your cake and eat it to.  Chances are (unless your day job is flipping homes) you probably aren’t going to be doing this process again for many years.  Flip through magazines or go on Pinterest and gather ideas.  This is the best way to determine what look you are going for.


Step 2:  Exploring your options

Now that you have some idea of what your looking for, it’s time to get out there and see your options.  Visit building stores and showrooms.  This does not mean buying things on impulse!  Make a list of the items you are interested in, then use Step 3 to see which ones pass the test.  If you are working with a designer, make sure to tell them what you like and don’t like, and what your goals are for each space.  (Even though we are able to come up with great concepts, we are NOT able to read minds 🙂  )


Step 3:  Deciding what works best for you and your family

Shopping for home products can be a lot like going to get a puppy – we choose something because “it’s just sooooo cute” but then don’t think about how it will age, and how taking care of it fits into your lifestyle.  Building materials are like dogs – different material “breeds” have different characteristics.  For example, polished floors can be a slip hazard, and may not be something that works for your family if you have small children.  Having pets, young children, elderly family members, or other special circumstances should be taken into consideration.  Look at your activities and traffic patterns.  Think about the longterm maintenance, efficiency, and sustainability.  Be creative, but do your homework.


Step 4:  Putting it all together

By this point you have probably chosen a few different materials, but it may feel boring or like they don’t all fuse together.  If you haven’t already decided on a color scheme, do so now. (Check out Design Seeds from my previous post for help on choosing a palette). For the building materials, it is best to choose a neutral (like white, beige, brown, grey, etc) as the dominant color in the space, with pops of color for the accents (like green, yellow, orange, blue, etc).


I was in a similar situation the other day that inspired this post.   The designer I assist was out-of-town this past week, and I had to meet with a client who was trying to decide on selections for one of her guest baths.  Here’s what she had chosen:



Problem:  In this case there the floor and countertop are both cream/beige, but the shower tile is stark white.  And then there’s the green wall.  How can these colors work harmoniously together without clashing?

Solution: By choosing an accent mosaic tile that has all the colors in it, color story is united.



DO’s & DONT’s

-Do take the time to plan a budget before taking on the project.

-Don’t go overboard on color or pattern. These things can date themselves quickly.  Leave the majority of the color pops for the paint, accents, or accessories, as these items can be easily swapped out with trends over time.

-Do have a good contrast between materials.  If all the colors fall into the same color, it could clash or end up looking dingy.  (Exception to the rule: clean crisp white – you can never have too much)

-Don’t get stressed out and choose items just to “get it over with”.  Remember this decision is something you will live with for many years so make sure you do it right! 🙂