Remodel Design Guide: Concepts Phase

You’re well on your way to a newly remodeled home. Now that you’ve met with a remodel team and signed a design proposal, it’s time to begin the concepts phase. During part of the remodeling process, you and your designers will work together to establish the general layout and design of your remodel. 

Our design team at Lamont Bros. has guided hundreds of Portland-area homeowners through the remodel process. When working through the concepts phase, our goal is to provide the client with the guidance and expertise they need to develop a design concept that fits their needs and their budget. 

In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about the design concepts phase of your remodel. You can expect to learn:

What happens during the concepts design phase?

During the concepts phase of your remodel design, the goal is to take your remodel design from how it could look to how it will look. This is often an iterative process. In the end, you should end up with a cohesive design concept that is finely tailored to your needs and expectations. 

Choose your favorite design

After signing your design proposal, your design team will take a week or two to begin developing your design concepts. Typically, the designers will create 2-3 different designs for you to consider. These designs will be presented to you as 3-dimensional renderings so you can visualize how each one might look in your home. The goal is to present several options so you can see what your remodel might look like. From there, you can select one of the concepts and refine it to your taste. 

If each concept has different design features that interest you, don’t worry. Your design team can include those features later on. The purpose of developing different concepts is to find the one that most closely matches your expectations. Once you have a broad match, your designers can make minor adjustments to it and pull inspiration from the other concept designs, too. 

Different options for different project types

The type of remodel you are designing will have a significant impact on the range of concepts presented to you. For example, for a custom kitchen remodel, you’ll likely be presented with three different possible kitchen designs, each with entirely different layouts. For other types of projects where the layout isn’t a major factor, the design concepts might instead feature several color schemes or finish styles.

Expect a few meetings

For most remodel projects, the concepts phase shouldn’t require more than two meetings. If your design team does a good job of listening to your needs during your initial consultation, they should be able to develop a set of concepts that help guide you towards your remodeling goals. 

Depending on the complexity of your remodel, you should be able to settle on a general design at your first concepts meeting. Keep in mind, the concept you select won’t be exactly what you want right away, but should serve as a solid baseline on which to build. For larger projects such as additions or fully custom kitchen remodels, you may find yourself split pretty evenly between two different designs. In this case, your design team may request a second meeting to combine those designs into one concept from which you can move forward. 

How to prepare for your concept meetings

Viewing concepts for your remodel can be an incredibly exciting process! As you work through the steps of selecting which concept best represents your expectations in a remodel, there are a few important things to keep in mind. 

Make a list: Needs, Wants, & Dreams

One of the best ways to help your design team organize their priorities when developing concepts for your remodel is to give them a categorized list of your preferred design features. We often recommend using “Needs, Wants, & Dreams,” to help your team understand what is truly important to you. 

The needs category includes the non-negotiables for your remodel. These are the things that must be included in the design no matter what. For a growing family, remodel needs might include more living space, extra kitchen storage, or a nursery room. For a professional musician, the needs might include a music room with acoustic insulation. 

Wants are the things that you’d like to have, but aren’t an absolute necessity. As mid-tier priority, you might end up with a few of your wants, even on a strict budget. These might include brand-specific items, such as a Sub-Zero refrigerator or Crystal Keyline cabinets. Wants may also include convenience features such as a central vacuum system, heated floors, or internet-connected lighting systems.

By the time you get to dreams, you’re dealing with creature comforts and luxury features. These items are generally much more expensive and will only make it into the design if you have extra room in the budget for it. 

You can learn more about prioritizing design features by watching the video below. 

Make an inspiration board

A picture is worth a thousand words. In remodel design, this expression is especially true. Often, a photo of a design or aesthetic can communicate more to your designer than words alone. Consider creating a Pinterest or Houzz board to help your design team to create a concept that best aligns with your needs as a homeowner.

Set realistic goals & expectations

It’s important going into the concept design process that you recognize the goals of this phase. Don’t be surprised if none of the concepts perfectly match your expectations for your remodel – they aren’t the final design. Instead, keep in mind that the concept you choose serves as a baseline. As you and your team work together to finalize the design, you’ll be able to make adjustments that satisfy your vision for your remodel.

Be honest with your designer

Your honest opinion is the most important piece of the puzzle when it comes to finding a concept for your remodel. Sometimes, sharing your thoughts can be uncomfortable, especially when you’re asked to be critical. Understand that your design team’s highest priority is to help you create a remodel design that specifically meets your needs. They can’t do that if you aren’t honest with them about the concepts they present to you. Believe it or not, strong opinions are the most helpful ones. If something just isn’t working for you, say so. Even when you can’t think of a solution, name the issue and your designers can help you brainstorm. 

Design is the best time in a project to make changes. You can always file a change order later on, but if you can solve problems in the design phase before moving to construction, you’ll save yourself and your team a lot of work in the long run. 

What happens after you’ve selected a concept design?

After the concepts phase, your design team will have a strong sense of direction for the remodel project. Once that phase is complete, you get to start fine-tuning the details. Think of the concepts phase as the “canvas.” Now that you’ve picked out your size and shape, it’s time to start painting. 

The next phase, “Selection,” consists of 4-6 meetings where you’ll get to pick specific products and materials. Everything from cabinets to plumbing fixtures, and flooring to lighting design, you’ll discuss during the next steps. It will typically take your team a week or two to finalize your concept design and compile a list of products for you to choose from. After that, It’ll be time to sign your construction contract and get ready to build!

Want to learn more about our design-build process?

Whether you’re in the middle of a remodel or just weighing your options, it pays to be prepared. At Lamont Bros., our website has plenty of research material for you to use as you prepare. You can read more about our design-build process to better understand how your remodel takes shape over time. 

Are you ready to start talking to a designer about remodeling your home? If so, click the link below to schedule a free video consultation with one of our professional design consultants. We’ll walk you through the process of remodeling, from the initial design to the final nail.