The design studio team in North Carolina shares the beauty of the design process and their tips for refreshing your home.
If you’ve ever shopped for a new home, you’ve likely toured a beautifully decorated model and have visited a design studio too. While many models give the illusion of effortless style or you find yourself in awe of how some consultants are able to whip up beautiful design suggestions off the top of their head, there’s more preparation and research that goes into these processes than you think.
To give you perspective into exactly what the process is like, we sat down with Sarah McKinnon — Design Studio Manager — as well as Tiffany Page, April Gilmore and Amber Quarles who are the three incredibly talented consultants that make up our design studio team in North Carolina. They let us in on what it takes to bring a model home to life, and shared a few expert tips and tricks of their own to keep in mind when designing your own home.
Meet the Empire Carolinas Design Studio Team
What does the design process look like when starting on a new model home?
Sarah McKinnon: Starting on a new model home is a very exciting time for us. Our VP of Sales and Marketing and I sit down with the team that we choose to merchandise the models and have an in-depth meeting about the neighborhood, the home we have chosen to model and its location. We discuss our vision for who the homebuyers will be and what they may feel is important to them in regard to design options and styling.
Once those decisions are solidified, various style boards are created and presented in a larger group setting with the Director of Purchasing, a CAD team member and our Regional President. We take a good deal of time and care to go through this meeting to make sure that all that’s suggested will work, and that we are all pleased with the direction that we are moving in. After that, and perhaps a final revision or two, we are ready to build.
How does the neighborhood influence the design style you choose?
Sarah McKinnon: All of our neighborhoods have their own feeling, so they definitely influence the design style that we choose. For example, we have some great townhomes that are just coming to life in Charlotte that have a totally different feeling than perhaps our Oldenburg neighborhood in Marvin. The type of home that we offer, as well as who our buyer is in each location, definitely helps us create the style and the unique feel for each neighborhood.
There are so many places to shop for home decor and furnishings. What are your go-to spots?
Tiffany Page: Home Goods is always a South Charlotte staple when in search of home decor and furnishings. You are bound to leave with a special find each and every visit. It’s also worthwhile to go thrifting at your local antique stores in the area like Sleepy Poet Antique Mall in Charlotte or Catawba River Antique Mall in Belmont. You never know when you might luck up and find that gem of a piece that transforms the whole room. When all else fails, it’s not too far of a drive to High Point, NC — the Furniture Capital of the World. In High Point, you can call upon certified designers to guide you through trend setting showrooms where you can select and purchase furniture, accessories, art, rugs, lighting and more. They can help you create a custom-made piece or design your entire home.
Which model home are you most proud of?
Sarah McKinnon: I don’t know that there is one that I am most proud of per se — they are all unique and have their own personality and feeling. Although, perhaps the one that was a bit of a surprise that we were all so pleased with was our Ellington model at Empire McLean. We’ve never had a boho chic style installed before — it’s such a fun, bright and happy home to walk into.
What tips can you share for anyone looking to design a new home or give their current home a refresh?
Amber Quarles: Here are some tips anyone can use when designing a new home or looking to give their current home a refresh.
- Tip #1 – Keep your personal style in mind. It’s important to think about what style really works well for you and what look you are trying to achieve. Not sure what your personal design style is? Take our quiz to find out.
- Tip #2 – Paint can do wonders for a room, so selecting a great paint color or colors is very important.
- Tip #3 – Texture and patterns – Once your new home is built, it’s time to accessorize each room. This can easily be done by adding rugs and pillows — which also applies if you’re interested in refreshing your home too. Incorporating rugs and pillows with different textures and patterns can totally change the look of a sofa, chair or a room.
- Tip #4 – Select or update lighting based on current trends. Light fixtures have taken on a personality of their own and there are so many options available today.
- Tip #5 – Most importantly, incorporate items into your home that bring you joy. Whether it’s a plant or an inspiring piece of artwork, the choice is yours.
What can homeowners expect upon their visit to the design studio and how can they prepare?
April Gilmore: When a homeowner walks into the Empire Carolinas Design Studio, they can expect to be greeted by our receptionist and ushered into our 3,900 sq. ft. design studio to meet their Design Consultant. Upon their arrival, they will be offered refreshments to start the day and will sit down to discuss the order of selections. During that discussion, the Design Consultant will get to know the buyers to ensure that they work together effectively.
In order for a buyer to properly prepare for their appointment, they should take the time to visit our Empire Carolinas Design Studio website. This site offers a snapshot of our offerings from exterior selections to flooring and cabinetry. This will make buyers feel more comfortable with the array of choices and will help them become more focused on their decisions. Visiting websites such as Houzz and Pinterest are also great reference points for our buyers to use prior to their appointment, in order to gather an overall idea of what they like. Even if a buyer cannot make preliminary selections from our website, having pictures and images from other homes can help tremendously to move the process forward.
Looking for inspiration for your new or current home? Visit our design page for all the latest styles and trends.