As a follow-up to last week’s post, we’re taking a closer look at creating your needs vs. wants lists and identifying the success criteria (non-negotiables) for your project.

To help you determine which items belong on which list, you’ll start by writing down every detail that’s a part of your vision.  This can include anything from large windows and heated floors, to a two-compartment, apron sink. It may be less tangible, like a cosy atmosphere, but this exercise will only be helpful if you can identify what it is that makes a space cosy for you. For some people it may be a fireplace and plush textiles, while for others it may be dark finishes and well-placed light fixtures. Remember, this is personal. This will be your home, your space, your life; no one can tell you what these things are for you.

Envisioning your new home may not be something that comes naturally, and if that is the case, simply start paying attention to your day-to-day life. Ask yourself the types of questions we suggested in our previous post, here.  You can also make them task specific, if that’s easier. For example, as you are cooking your dinner, what parts of the process would you change? Is the fridge too far from the sink? Do you have to go to the basement to get ingredients because you don’t have the pantry space?  Are you thinking about your cousin’s kitchen, the one with the open shelving, and about how nice it must be to grab something whenever you need it without going through cupboards? You don’t have to know exactly what you want – your architect or designer will help you with this – so don’t be concerned if this step proves hard for you.  Just practice being present and aware of your space as you go through your days. If a thought pops up that could inform the design, make a note (preferably on your phone or somewhere else you’ll be able to find it to add to periodically) and then bring the list to your design meeting.

Now that you have your list of wants, you need to go through each item and pick your non-negotiables.  These are the things that will make or break the success of your project: they are your needs. If you were somehow unable to accomplish most of the things on your list, having these items incorporated would still make the project successful for you. This list shouldn’t be very long, perhaps just three to five goals, depending on their size and cost implications.  We recommend stepping away from your list and coming back to it after you’ve had some time for the ideas to percolate. 

Editing your wants list to determine your needs is crucial.  Your wants list is where we encourage you to dream and envision, while your needs list is where we encourage being realistic.  Unfortunately, there’s a good chance you can’t have everything you want. We know, it’s not nice to hear that, but it’s often true, and  may not even have to do with the budget. Even if you happen to have unlimited funds, sometimes, in order to accomplish one thing, you have to compromise on another.  Or maybe you’ve put items on your list that contradict one another. Maybe you’ve always wanted a room full of dark wood and bookshelves to the ceilings, but there was also that place you rented in Mexico whose colourful and bright interior lit a fire in you that you’d like to echo in your own space. 

We’re not saying that two very different things can’t coexist in a design.  After all, contrasting new and old, modern and traditional, can be used to create incredibly dynamic spaces.  Just remember that there is a reason you are hiring an architect or designer: we can provide guidance to help you bring your vision into reality.  However, to do our jobs to the best of our ability, you’re going to have to trust us. If you’re not going to question your lawyer’s approach to real estate or corporate law, don’t question your designer when they are vehemently telling you that something won’t serve you well.  Collaboration is the most important part of any project.  Working together as a team, you, your architect and your contractor, will bring the vision of your home to reality.

Thanks for joining us again for our Getting Started blog series.  We hope you have a great week and we’ll see you next Monday!