When designing a new construction home, we have the luxury of starting with a blank slate, and usually that blank slate starts before the architectural phase is even complete. We love to collaborate with the architect to explore how the exterior of the home will work in relation to the interior design. Will the window layout and placements be as appealing and ideal on the inside as they are on the outside? Do the scale of the architectural beams and doorways feel appropriate to the space? These are all things we address during the early stages of design and the reason it’s so vital we develop 3D renderings to illustrate concepts and concerns with clients.
In fact, being that we strive to design spaces with unique ideas that don’t feel like every other house on Pinterest, 3D renderings are just as much a vital tool for our design team to work out details ensure the space feels visually cohesive.
In the case of the project below, the architect developed a 3D model of the interior to illustrate the grandeur of the space and placed very simple details and cabinetry into the home to show how the size would relate to the overall layout of the home. Below was our starting point for the design based on the basic 3D model the architect provided.
As you can see, it’s a very basic model of the overall size and shape of the space. It is then the job of my team make it into a beautiful, functional space. But what does that process look like and how does the design evolve? We don’t go from 0 to 100 over night - especially when it comes to intricate spaces like kitchens.
In the case of this kitchen, the cabinetry layout was going to be a huge portion of the design, so I started there. I also put together a general color palette and design direction in my head. This home is placed in the middle of 100 acres on a family farm, so we wanted to give it a true, comfortable farmhouse feel while honoring the architecture of the space.
Right off the bat, I made some initial changes to the architecture of the home. In the living room, I didn’t love the arched window over the fireplace. Because the ceilings are SO high, having a squatty fireplace (as shown in the initial 3D model above) in the room didn’t feel scale-appropriate. So, we revised the window layout and ran the fireplace all the way to the ceiling.
After our first round of renderings shown above, here’s where we started. Nicole, who’s a member of my team, is wildly talented at building realistic 3D renderings, and while I know how to use the program, I don’t pretend to be nearly as skilled in this arena as she is. So, we work as a team back and forth on creating the space. I am the creative drive behind the design, and she is the brains and talent behind building it on the computer screen. After developing an initial cabinetry layout with my other team member Nadia, Nadia sends it to Nicole to build in the rendering. I also typically select lighting fixtures during this time as it’s helpful to see how the scale of the actual lights feel in the space as the design develops.
From this first stage of the design, I knew I didn’t like the pendants hanging over the island. It felt way too busy and they blocked the view of the television over the fireplace. I also honed in on the design of the range hood and island end caps, and we were left with the second design stage below.
It felt like it was getting closer! Adding in accessories and dishes always helps a room come to life, though the space still needed some tweaks. The doors were asking to be stained instead of painted, and the hood felt very flat. I also wasn’t loving the layout of the far wall. The original layout from the architect had a wall in between the beverage station and the side by side fridge and freezer (as shown above). I was trying to work with it, but it just wasn’t feeling right. This is the advantage of doing the design before the architectural phase (or God forbid - the framing!) is complete. We can easily decide we don’t want a wall there and try out some new ideas. I also decided I didn’t love how open the pantry was, and put a pocket door with frosted glass on it. Between now and then, I’m keeping my eye out, and I actually hope to find a vintage door to integrate here!
Above, you can see that we drastically changed the layout of the cabinetry for the fridge, freezer, and bar station, and it was certainly moving in the right direction. It’s important not to get stuck on a certain idea and move on to new concepts when something isn’t working. When we feel like the design is getting really close to where we want it, I have Nicole take the renderings one step further to a more realistic (less computer generated) level.
Below shows the next stage of design. These renderings helped me see that the black barstools were far too heavy in the space. Even though we select actual furniture at a later date, having something like those barstools in the rendering now can be distracting to the overall design. It better helps communicate the end goal if you use items that are consistent with your vision for when the room is complete.
Below you can see how big of a difference it made to switch out the barstools for something fun like yellow. We also continued to take the renderings to another photographic level and the renderings got more and more realistic.
Once these renderings were complete, I was happy with where the design was, and this is where we left it for our first design meeting with the client. During this meeting, we literally went over every selection. The entire cabinetry layout along with every piece of plumbing, tile, wood, finish, countertop, and appliance. A lot of design companies will do each of these items separately at different meetings (talk about a lot of time and work for the client to attend that many meetings), but we have found that it’s easiest for our clients to visualize it all together if it is all done at once. SO! Below are the renderings we used for this initial design meeting.
Typically, there are a few things we tweak after the initial design meeting based on the client’s feedback. In this case, we took a risk doing sage green cabinets, and the client opted to see more options. She also admitted that being more of a minimalist, she didn’t love the clutter of the open shelves flanking the range hood. I was also still not feeling the cabinetry layout on the fridge/freezer wall and requested to take another stab at it. This is all a part of the collaborative design process! Open communication and a bit of back and forth, and we land on something the client loves.
Below is what I came up with after our first design meeting and the client’s feedback. We were able to show her 4 more color options for the cabinetry, and this Regent Green is what she fell in love with. I closed in the cabinetry flanking the hood, and came up with a completely new design for the fridge/freezer wall. This built in armoire had a more furniture feel and felt more homey and appropriate for this farmhouse. I also love how the fridge and freezer on either side completely disappear. In the island, we opted for stained end capes in inset drawers with stained hickory framing in between. The entire piece feels more furniture like, and it’s a custom idea you won’t find elsewhere!
So - what do you think? Would seeing renderings like this of your project help you confidently make design decisions on your home? Our clients consistently say how fun and stress-free the design process is when working with our team, and that’s the best compliment they can give. There’s just nothing better than designing a new home. Construction starts on this beauty soon! Stay tuned!