Obviously building dream houses or dream remodels is the primary work we do—the company is called Dotty Brothers Construction, after all, but constructing dream houses is only half of our process. Before anything is built, it’s designed. That part of the process is as important as the build and is the start of us really getting to know our clients well. As we work with them to design their home, we come to understand why they want this dream home, and how they want it to work for their family for generations to come.
Designing walls, roofs, decks, porches, rooms, halls, and every other part of a home is one part of the design process, but customizing them to the customers’ needs, and helping to work out what the final finishes on those areas will look like is another, more specific type of design: interior design.
We spoke with local interior designer Cassandra Doolittle from Northern Design Co. about why you should hire an interior designer. She’s worked as an interior designer in the Brainerd Lakes area for many years, and we’ve been fortunate to work with her on a few design/build projects.
We asked her to talk about her process, and how she gets projects started. We discussed the many roles she plays for her clients—some of which we find ourselves in as well. (You might not think the construction trades require a lot of careful listening and creating thoughtful compromises, but we sometimes find ourselves acting as mediators, helping clients navigate a wave of information and external input, something Cassandra can relate to.)
This is the first of a series of video interviews we did with Cassandra, discussing a wide range of interior design topics: her process, what her goals are for her clients, reasons to hire an interior designer, best practices for staying on budget, how to develop and incorporate your personal style, as well as some common mistakes people make that can be avoided with the help of an interior designer.
As Cassandra notes, every custom design/build project boils down to relationships —the relationships that we build with our clients (no pun intended) and the relationships Cassandra develops with hers. Both for her and for our team, we’re often working on something our clients have literally dreamed of, possibly for years, so it’s important to get it right.
An important point Cassandra makes is that there can be a misconception about interior design, that it might be seen purely as interior decorating—the “icing on the cake,” as she puts it. But it’s so much more than that. Thoughtful design and space planning are a critical part of any design/build project. Getting an interior designer involved early can help inform choices made at the design stage and help ensure that the final product is one you’ll love for decades. As with all construction projects, staying within budget is easy—as long as nobody makes radical changes after the construction begins. Careful design helps work out the best way to create and organize space, and that alone will help prevent change orders later in the process. And that’s before anyone’s started picking out flooring or molding or paint or stain (or any of a hundred other choices to be made).
It’s easy to look at a blueprint or an architectural rendering and say “Yes, that great room does, in fact, look great.” But a good interior designer will help make sure that great room lives great, too. A great room with a great view probably has great big windows—a majestic vista awaits! But if there’s no place to put a couch or a comfy set of chairs, you could be stuck holding your morning coffee and standing at the window while watching the sunrise. The view can be incredible, but still not how you want to live.
To be clear, that’s something of an exaggeration. We’d never let a client get themselves into that sort of a situation in their dream home. But it’s an example of the kinds of things that can go wrong, and the type of thing that an interior designer can help prevent. We’ll touch on some of those avoidable mistakes in an upcoming video, but they can be the kind of thing that blows up a project’s budget or even just detracts a little bit from your enjoyment of your dream home. And when we’re talking about dreams, we don’t want anything that gets in the way of fully realizing them.
Bringing dreams to life is a challenge. Our goal is to take your vision and help make it real: really beautiful, really functional, and what you really, really wanted.
What to know more? Fill out the form below to get our booklet on interior design!