Sabrina Alfin Interiors
Luxurious Spaces. Real Living.


Master Planning: The Key to Cohesive Design


Unless you are that lucky woman in Massachusetts who won three-quarters of a billion dollars in the last Powerball lottery, I'm guessing money is at least somewhat of an object when it comes to design projects. :-) And as a designer who understands most people can only bite off a couple of rooms at a time so they don't break the bank, let me introduce a concept that a lot of people don't take into consideration when they tick off their design to-do list: master planning.

What is design master planning?

The Bay Area is full of older homes that haven't been updated in 30+ years. And as many people have come to realize, it's less expensive to remodel and re-decorate than it is to buy a new home at today's prices. So when I talk about Master Planning, I'm talking about your design goals for the ultimate finished look and layout for your home, inclusive of construction plans, dimensioned furniture layouts, design style, and color schemes.

Getting the details right upfront

In the example above, this older home had a somewhat chopped up layout with very separate spaces and dated features like bay windows that kept the space from being maximized. To eliminate the choppy feeling, we opened it up, repositioned the kitchen, made it a wide open space for entertaining that invited an indoor/outdoor experience, and took advantage of spectacular views of the Bay.

Developing a remodeling/re-decorating priority list

I often recommend to clients that any remodeling that has to be done might be more cost-efficient if done in larger chunks. Why? Because most general contractors are so busy these days, they will likely charge you a premium for a small, one-off bath remodel than they might if you did the bath, kitchen, and wall demo/re-framing all at the same time, for example. The bigger the project, the easier it is to schedule their sub-contractors, assuring your project gets the attention it deserves. Otherwise, with subs scattered on several smaller projects, work tends to get stalled. The sheet rock guy, for instance, could finish his work, but it might take another week or two to get the painters and tile guys on site because they're working on someone else's project. This drags things out and increases the inconvenience factor while your home is under construction. So consider getting the bigger remodeling things done upfront, then decide which rooms your family uses from most often to least often and prioritize accordingly.

Timeless looks assure you maximize your investment

Your "master look" should be a design style that will still be as relevant in fifteen years as it is today. Trends come and go, but your home will be yours for 20 or 30 years, maybe longer. My approach is to really listen to how my clients live, make sure my recommended master look doesn't conflict with the architecture of their house, and to enhance existing features that add value, while eliminating dated features that don't. Similarly, furnishings should be good quality that last for years so that by the time you're ready to decorate that last room on the master plan, you won't have to replace other furnishings that were higher on the priority list. I work with my clients on a master look using inspiration photos, mood boards, and color palettes, creating traditional, modern, and transitional styles depending on what's appropriate for each individual project, like this:


Or this:


Or even this:

Dining Concept.jpg

In the end, investing some time and money at the beginning to develop the roadmap will save lots of money over the course of the project. You'll avoid mistakes and you'll have a go-to resource to help plan your purchases.

Think you might need some help with your master design and furniture plan? Give us a shout and we'll be happy to help!