Behind the Scenes: Interior Finishes

People often ask me: What is the design process? How do we get from an idea to a permit-approved set of plans? The answer varies depending on the project’s location, size, and type. But there are few common denominators. Enter… drum roll please!… 

Behind the Scenes! A series of posts to help you understand what I’m doing back here. You know, behind the scenes.

Phase 4: Interiors!

When designing your place, there are SO many decisions to make. How would you like your space to function? Who should build it? What do we compromise to stick to the budget? And on and on. 

Towards the end are some of the most important (and exhausting) decisions for the overall look of your space: INTERIOR SPECIFICATIONS. It’s important to keep you energy up for this part. If you have the right attitude and the right help (hi!) this can even be fun!

@MeldrumDesign concept board

Basic list of interior specs your builder will want to know:

  • Cabinet style & finish

  • Countertops

  • Tile (including flooring, backsplashes, and shower/tub surrounds)

  • Flooring (wood, carpet, vinyl, etc)

  • Decorative Light Fixtures

  • Plumbing Fixtures (sinks, faucets, bathtubs, toilets, etc)

  • Appliances

  • Case & Base (a shorthand reference to the window & door casing as well as the baseboard trim)

  • Wall & Ceiling Paint Colors

    *Because I love you, here’s a sample of the Interior Specifications spreadsheet I use with my clients.

    And here’s how I work through the process with my clients:

1. Make your shopping list!

I love a good list. Review your plans and start your shopping list. Note any special requirements. For now, this can be quick and basic. Later, you’ll add a bunch of detail and it will turn it into a Finish Schedule.* Doesn’t that sounds fancy? 

2. Pick your stores. 

You’ll need a store for each material. If you find a store offering more than one material, even better! For example, countertop stores often sell tile. You can find these stores on the internet but I try to rely on recommendations from friends or designers (hi!).

Then plan your route. I try to shop for materials in order of smallest selection to largest. For example, you’ll usually have fewer choices of cabinet/ countertop combinations that you have choices of flooring. Here’s the order I prefer to shop:

Cabinets & Countertops > Flooring > Bathroom & Kitchen Tile > Appliances, Plumbing, and Light Fixtures mixed in whenever it’s convenient.

Case & Base and Paint Colors can be chosen as you get deeper into construction.

Be sure to note addresses and operating hours of the stores. Then print out your list as a quick reference guide for yourself and whoever else is shopping with you.

3. Go shopping! WOOHOO!

Use your shopping list as your guide. For the sake of time, I usually spend one or two long days shopping with my clients (wear comfy shoes!). But if you’re doing this DIY, you can proceed at whatever pace you like.

As you visit each store, get the contact information of the representative who helps you. This is especially important in Appliance, Light, and Plumbing Fixture stores. The specification lists can get complicated, lean on your reps to provide the details. For example, your lighting rep should be able to specify all the correct bulbs for the fixtures you choose. 

@MeldrumDesign
@MeldrumDesign

Also make sure to get samples of the materials you’ve chosen. They will help you make decisions as you work your way down the list. Sometimes the stores will only loan samples for a short time, this is one reason to get all the shopping done in a day or two.

Oh and bring a buddy (hi!). You’ll definitely want a second opinion, these are big decisions.

One thing that can make this part easier: a concept board. I make digital concept boards for my clients. Sometimes I create a pretty pre-shopping concept board to guide our style (like the one at the beginning of this article) and sometimes I create a basic post-shopping concept board to double check our decisions (photos of everything thrown together on an 11x17 sheet). In any case, it can be very helpful to see all the materials “together” in one place.

I haven’t mentioned shopping online because it’s actually more difficult than shopping in stores, albeit usually less expensive. You need a practiced eye to make sure the dimensions, colors, & textures are correct on an online order. Plus you don’t get the added benefit of a representative helping you out. Shopping online can be a good way to go but it’s not for everyone.

4. Check Your Work

@MeldrumDesign

Bring your material samples to the job site. This is especially important for a remodel. Lay them out side by side in natural light and/or against existing materials. Take a few pictures to keep for your records and for Step #6.

5. Create Your Finish Schedule

Now that you’ve chosen your materials, you need to put the info in an easy-to-read schedule for your builder. It can be daunting. Do I want 1/8” tile grout spacing or 1/16”? *Luckily you have my template to help you out.

As you figure out the details, talk to your material representatives, designer friends (hi!), and even consult Google. You can find anything on the internet!

If you’re working with a store rep, it may not be necessary to fill out allll the details on my spreadsheet. If they’re good, the rep will give you a spec list you can hand straight to the contractor.

6. Deal With Change

It’s inevitable, you’ll wake up in the middle of the night thinking about your backsplash tile. Did you make the right choice? There are so many choices! 

Generally, you should trust your initial instinct. But if one of your materials just feels wrong, revisit your store and pick a new one. You should have samples of most of your materials collected, ready for comparison.

There’s no harm in changing your mind early on. But the later it gets, the more time consuming and expensive it is to make changes. And the more annoyed your builder will become. We definitely don’t want that.

So try to stick to the original finish schedule or be quick about your changes. 

And voila, there you have it! A complete and beautiful Finish Schedule for your nearly complete and soon to be beautiful new space.

Don’t have time to DIY all this? Let me know. I offer design consultation services to fit almost any budget.

(Full disclosure, I did not go to interior design school. But I’ve helped many clients with their interiors and by now, I know a thing or two.)

*Because I love you, here’s a sample of the Interior Specifications spreadsheet I use with my clients.


Last Month on Social Media:

Meldrum Design turns 5 years old this month! 🥂 Wow how things can change in 5 years. I started the business in San Diego, moved it to Texas, moved it to Scotland, and then moved it to Maine! I've gone from a home designer doing basic garage permits to a licensed architect designing ground-up homes 🏘 and commercial buildings 🏢! Thank you so SO much to all the people who have helped my business thrive. 🙌🏻 I literally could not have done this without you cheering me on & counseling me (sometimes in the same day). I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to affect positive change in the built environment. Is this real life? 🤯 Somebody pinch me!

Meldrum Design turns 5 years old this month! 🥂 Wow how things can change in 5 years. I started the business in San Diego, moved it to Texas, moved it to Scotland, and then moved it to Maine! I've gone from a home designer doing basic garage permits to a licensed architect designing ground-up homes 🏘 and commercial buildings 🏢!
Thank you so SO much to all the people who have helped my business thrive. 🙌🏻 I literally could not have done this without you cheering me on & counseling me (sometimes in the same day). I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to affect positive change in the built environment. Is this real life? 🤯 Somebody pinch me!

Meldrum Design HQ is so close to finished! 🤗 Mike and I hired a carpenter 👨🏻‍🔧 to build, drywall, and mud. We did the drywall sanding and painting ourselves. The sanding masks 😷 make us look rather ghoulish 👻. We tested three colors of wall paint and decided on a color called Champagne 🥂. Seems fitting! It's off-white with a touch of red and yellow. But in certain lights, it looks downright orange! Or pink, or green, or tan! Pretty crazy the power of lighting. 💡 What colors do you see in our wall paint?? 🎨

Meldrum Design HQ is so close to finished! 🤗 Mike and I hired a carpenter 👨🏻‍🔧 to build, drywall, and mud. We did the drywall sanding and painting ourselves. The sanding masks 😷 make us look rather ghoulish 👻. We tested three colors of wall paint and decided on a color called Champagne 🥂. Seems fitting! It's off-white with a touch of red and yellow. But in certain lights, it looks downright orange! Or pink, or green, or tan! Pretty crazy the power of lighting. 💡
What colors do you see in our wall paint?? 🎨

This is home. Scroll right to see Sunny 🐶 frolicking and husband mowing at dusk. 😍

This is home. Scroll right to see Sunny 🐶 frolicking and husband mowing at dusk. 😍

Found this sweet restaurant 💚 on a recent trip to Hampton Beach, NH.  They installed two garage doors and parked a bus 🚌 on one side! The other side has seating open to the sidewalk. Such a simple and creative idea. And so eye 👀 catching.  I especially love the annoyed mermaid 🧜🏻‍♀️ painted on one of the interior walls.

Found this sweet restaurant 💚 on a recent trip to Hampton Beach, NH.
They installed two garage doors and parked a bus 🚌 on one side! The other side has seating open to the sidewalk. Such a simple and creative idea. And so eye 👀 catching.
I especially love the annoyed mermaid 🧜🏻‍♀️ painted on one of the interior walls.

This before & after is from way back in the day... Husband and I 👫 lived in and renovated an RV 🚌 when we lived in Texas 🌵. We opened up the bedroom 🛏 by demolishing 🔨 the old upper cabinets and painting the walls a lighter color. Add some vertical shelves from Target, DIY curtains, and a small photo 📸 collage and voila! 🤗 People don't realize how those overhead cabinets can make a space feel so much smaller 👎🏻. Whether you're in a tiny house or a typical house. A few strategic (and cheap 💵) DIY moves can mean a whole new look.  Check out the rest of the renovation 🛠 in my gallery. Link in bio. ☝🏻

This before & after is from way back in the day... Husband and I 👫 lived in and renovated an RV 🚌 when we lived in Texas 🌵. We opened up the bedroom 🛏 by demolishing 🔨 the old upper cabinets and painting the walls a lighter color. Add some vertical shelves from Target, DIY curtains, and a small photo 📸 collage and voila! 🤗
People don't realize how those overhead cabinets can make a space feel so much smaller 👎🏻. Whether you're in a tiny house or a typical house.
A few strategic (and cheap 💵) DIY moves can mean a whole new look.
Check out the rest of the renovation 🛠 in my gallery. Link in bio. ☝🏻

Brewery feasibility study continues! 🍺 This client and I recently toured Maine Brewing Co.'s gorgeous tap room 😍 (with an indoor fountain & life-sized copper tree 🌳), inviting outdoor patio, a cool ethos 😎, and a sparkly clean ✨ & totally epic production room. The Operations & Facilities Manager spent a couple hours showing us around and giving us all kinds of free advice.👌🏻 The Maine craft beer industry is definitely something special. Anybody else been to a cool brewery lately? 🍻

Brewery feasibility study continues! 🍺 This client and I recently toured Maine Brewing Co.'s gorgeous tap room 😍 (with an indoor fountain & life-sized copper tree 🌳), inviting outdoor patio, a cool ethos 😎, and a sparkly clean ✨ & totally epic production room. The Operations & Facilities Manager spent a couple hours showing us around and giving us all kinds of free advice.👌🏻 The Maine craft beer industry is definitely something special.
Anybody else been to a cool brewery lately? 🍻

Archifact  #2  💡Repointing: filling in and/or repairing brickwork joints. Often necessary for structural stability on older brick buildings. 🧱 With the bright, new mortar, it also makes the brick look like new! Pc: Essex Brickwork and Repointing

Archifact #2
💡Repointing: filling in and/or repairing brickwork joints. Often necessary for structural stability on older brick buildings. 🧱 With the bright, new mortar, it also makes the brick look like new!
Pc: Essex Brickwork and Repointing

Construction 🚧 is in progress on this Sugarloaf addition/ remodel! This is me 👋🏻 with the client & contractor. It's so exciting when the building starts to take shape...🕺🏻 I find that regularly scheduled team site meetings are incredibly helpful in making the right decisions & maintaining communication. 🙌🏻 Open communication! So important in construction. (And in everything else.)

Construction 🚧 is in progress on this Sugarloaf addition/ remodel! This is me 👋🏻 with the client & contractor. It's so exciting when the building starts to take shape...🕺🏻
I find that regularly scheduled team site meetings are incredibly helpful in making the right decisions & maintaining communication. 🙌🏻 Open communication! So important in construction. (And in everything else.)

I recently visited the Encinitas public library and WOWZA 🤩. Those light fixtures! And the roof lines! And the lighting! Oh my! What an incredible building by Manuel Oncina Architects. Do you have a favorite library? 📚

I recently visited the Encinitas public library and WOWZA 🤩. Those light fixtures! And the roof lines! And the lighting! Oh my! What an incredible building by Manuel Oncina Architects.
Do you have a favorite library? 📚

This is our Loft/ Guest Bedroom. 🛏 Directly below those floorboards is our Master Bedroom. When we have guests to stay, we can hear their every footstep 👣. So to mitigate the noise husband 1️⃣ screwed down the edges of each floor board... that eliminated a lot of the creaking. Then 2️⃣ we installed a thick pad and durable carpet on top of the boards... Mike and I took turns jumping around up there and you couldn't hear a thing in the Master Bedroom. It worked! 👍🏻 DIY tip ✔️, we found a smoking deal on remnant carpets at our local building overstock store (Mardens). Only $1/ square foot. 🤑 Cha-ching! Also, make sure you're ready with LOTS of extra box-cutter blades. Also also, if we had the 💲💲 this is definitely something we would have hired out. Don't look too closely because that DIY carpet install is a little rough around the edges. 😁 Scroll right 👉🏻 to see the installed carpet. Next step, new wall/ ceiling paint!

This is our Loft/ Guest Bedroom. 🛏 Directly below those floorboards is our Master Bedroom. When we have guests to stay, we can hear their every footstep 👣. So to mitigate the noise husband 1️⃣ screwed down the edges of each floor board... that eliminated a lot of the creaking. Then 2️⃣ we installed a thick pad and durable carpet on top of the boards... Mike and I took turns jumping around up there and you couldn't hear a thing in the Master Bedroom. It worked! 👍🏻
DIY tip ✔️, we found a smoking deal on remnant carpets at our local building overstock store (Mardens). Only $1/ square foot. 🤑 Cha-ching! Also, make sure you're ready with LOTS of extra box-cutter blades. Also also, if we had the 💲💲 this is definitely something we would have hired out. Don't look too closely because that DIY carpet install is a little rough around the edges. 😁
Scroll right 👉🏻 to see the installed carpet. Next step, new wall/ ceiling paint!

Check out this ceiling! I'm pretty sure it's an adobe brick 🧱 ceiling on top of simple wood framing. So cool! 😎 It works as a thermal mass, absorbing and holding heat during the day 🌞, and letting it out at night 🌚. Plus I'm sure it's a great sound barrier. And it's SO gorgeous. 😍 We saw a few buildings like this in Old San Juan 🌴. I did a little research 🕵🏻‍♀️ but couldn't find much information on how it's built. If you know more about it, 🤔 please let me know! ps. This is the last photo from Puerto Rico, I swear. 😜

Check out this ceiling! I'm pretty sure it's an adobe brick 🧱 ceiling on top of simple wood framing. So cool! 😎 It works as a thermal mass, absorbing and holding heat during the day 🌞, and letting it out at night 🌚. Plus I'm sure it's a great sound barrier. And it's SO gorgeous. 😍
We saw a few buildings like this in Old San Juan 🌴. I did a little research 🕵🏻‍♀️ but couldn't find much information on how it's built. If you know more about it, 🤔 please let me know!
ps. This is the last photo from Puerto Rico, I swear. 😜

This is what it looks like when you core a 6" hole through a double brick wall. That red stripe is brick dust!

This is what it looks like when you core a 6" hole through a double brick wall. That red stripe is brick dust!