Interior Design for New Construction: A Step by Step Guide to the Selections Process

If you're building a new home, it's important to have an understanding of when selections are needed to keep construction progressing on schedule. Working with your builder to create a project timeline early on will ensure that design selections are ready when, or before, the builder needs them. There are many factors that can delay a new construction project - don't let your design selections be one of them! 

The first selections generally required are the exterior materials and colors. Many communities have architectural review boards that require these selections prior to a project breaking ground. Your architect may be very involved in determining exterior selections, or they may leave it open for you, or your interior designer, to decide. 

Flooring materials (i.e. wood, concrete, stone) are determined early on because the flooring type and thickness can impact construction decisions. However, the flooring finishes or colors don't have to be finalized until the builder is ready to order the material or apply the finish.

The next selections to be completed are plumbing and appliances. These are needed early on for slab penetrations and rough ins. The appliance and plumbing selections will also be required to finalize cabinetry designs. 

Cabinetry design and selection is typically next. The cabinetry style and finishes chosen will be important defining factors in the interior design, and changes are often made during cabinetry design that impact framing. 

Tile, stone, and countertop selections are completed once the cabinetry design is in place. These are high impact selections, and they need to be ordered in advance of drywall completion.  

Interior doors, trim, and stairs need to be finalized early on, as they impact framing and are important factors in the design. Decisions will be needed on what materials should be painted vs. stained. 

Lighting selections are needed during framing, since wiring will be completed prior to drywall installation. Once framing is nearing completion, I like to do an electrical walkthrough to ensure the lighting will be switched as desired, the switches and outlets are located where they're needed, and to determine mounting heights for in-wall fixtures.

Paint colors can be finalized once drywall is up, since tile is typically installed before painting begins. When selecting paint, I recommend doing a walkthrough after drywall is completed to look at areas of color transition in person. 

While there are other selections to consider and schedules will vary from project to project, this is a good general framework to discuss with your builder when starting a new home.