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When Zeus Home Designer, Malorie, took her first look at the floor plans for 605-607 Westminster Ave, she felt a rush of excitement and anxiety all at once. This was both the largest design project she had personally taken on, and the biggest community of homes in the Zeus portfolio. While she didn’t yet know what this project would entail, she was certain it would require something unique.
The Westminster Ave properties are a community of eight bungalow-style apartments in Venice, California about a 10 minute walk from the beach and a 5 minute walk from Abbot Kinney Boulevard. On a scale of 1 to 5, we’d assign the location a 6. Tenants here enjoy a privately gated community tucked away in a serene pocket of a lively and dynamic neighborhood. With a location that truly knocks it out of the park, Malorie was keen to introduce a design that did nothing less.
As for the design itself, this intrigued us. How did she manage the logistics of designing for eight different spaces? And how did she bring to life uniquely inspiring designs for each space while on a budget? For anyone gearing up for a large home design project, read on for professional tips to organize and execute your project on a budget.
“I always start with the floor plans and measurements. This is the genesis of the design process,” Malorie shares. “You could dive right into purchasing your favorite pieces of furniture but if they don’t flow with the space, something will always feel off.” Malorie recommends leveraging technology like MagicPlan, an app that lets you create floor plans in 30 seconds by scanning a room with your mobile device.
Design is not like writing. When writing, it can be beneficial to shut yourself off from other pieces of written work which can stunt creativity and prevent authenticity. With design, however, the key is exposure. Exposure to different styles and approaches. Malorie recommends collecting a number of inspiration pieces and incorporating them into a vision board. “Pinterest is my go-to. I create a board for each project and begin searching for relevant keywords. For Westminster, I was searching on keywords like ‘bungalow home design’ and ‘beach inspired interiors’.”
When asked where else she looks for inspiration, Malorie points to social media. “Instagram is great because it’s so visual. I search hashtags like #apartmenttherapy, #currenthomeview, #myhomevibe, #bungalowstyle, and browse accounts like Homepolish, Dwell, Hunker Home, and Magnolia. I save the photos that stand out to me, essentially creating a Pinterest board within Instagram.”
Now that you’ve had time to dream big, let’s get realistic. It’s important to think about your budget prior to selecting furniture. Otherwise you run the risk of overspending in certain areas and not having enough budget left to complete the design. She advises making two lists: a Splurge List and a Save List. The Splurge List should include items that will get a lot of use, for example your couch or main seating area which you are likely to experience everyday. The Save List, on the other hand, should include items that you don’t utilize as frequently and intimately, and items that can easily be replaced. Examples include a floor lamp or a side table.
So you have your overall budget and a breakdown of where you plan to splurge and save. The next step is to identify retailers to source key items included in your lists. You might choose West Elm or Article for the items on your Splurge List, and Wayfair or IKEA for the items on your Save List. “There are so many options out there. I recommend choosing 1-2 retailers for each list for simplicity’s sake and to eliminate the chaos of too many shipment schedules,” Malorie notes.
Design room by room to avoid getting overwhelmed. “Start with shared spaces like the living room which other people will enjoy. This will keep you energized and will help you to create a style throughout the rest of the house.” Malorie tells us that she always starts with the living room, which she views as the anchor point of the home.
We wrapped up the conversation by asking Malorie about any setbacks that acted as learning experiences throughout the project. She shares two pieces of parting advice. The first: take advantage of showrooms. Particularly when ordering furniture online, showrooms can be a powerful way to test out different pieces and to ensure they’re a good fit for the space before purchasing. And if there’s no showroom nearby, pour yourself a glass of wine and dive deep into customer reviews. Her second piece of advice: stay on top of your orders. “Keep track of what you’ve ordered and what the delivery expectations are, for example which deliveries require signature.” Save yourself the headache of an “item returned to sender” situation by staying on top of these logistical details.
Whether you’re tackling a large design project for your own home or for a customer, we hope this helps you do so with ease, and with money left in the bank.