Do You Need an Interior Designer for Your New Build?


You have probably been imagining your dream home for years. You’ve saved magazine pages, notes, and inspiration over the years all in anticipation of finally building that custom home. Now, as you approach this special time in your life, you can’t wait to get started. You feel optimistic and hopeful… until you realize just how many details are involved, questions to answer, and decisions to make. 

For example, you might be asking…

  • Who should I hire first? Builder? Designer? Architect?
  • Once I have the lot secured, what next?
  • What style of home is right for me?
  • How do I select durable yet timeless materials for my home? Who helps with this?

And that’s not even close to the tip of the iceberg. Fortunately, as interior designers, it’s our job to not only help you make those design decisions but guide you through the entire new build process. We remove the overwhelm and help you conquer decision-making with ease. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

First, let’s unpack the different types of new builds, how a designer could be involved in each, and what a designer does (and doesn’t do) during your project.


The 3 Types of New Homes

1. Production Home

“Production homes” are built from standardized, cookie-cutter floor plans and offer minimal customization options. Often, builders will create a production home neighborhood community, where prospective buyers can tour model homes and view the various floor plans and land plots available. 

Because of this, these homes are built quickly, lack personalized details, use builder-basic materials, and usually all look the same on the outside. I like to think of production homes like the fast food of the design world: quick, easy, and with a limited menu. If that’s best for you, then go for it!

Since the builder has predetermined nearly all design and material choices, it’s not necessary to hire an interior designer to assist during this process. However, you may benefit from a design consultation if you’re looking to learn more about this process and your options.

2. Spec Home

A spec home is built by a builder who “speculates” about what a homebuyer wants and starts building it before a buyer has been secured. These homes are often considered semi-custom, but it depends when you find yours. If you find one that is already built, you won’t have a lot of options. If you get there in the early stages, you may have the option to upgrade (within defined parameters) the home’s features. 

Given that you have options but not complete freedom, an interior designer could be an added benefit if you are buying a spec home. It’s our expertise to develop a fully fledged design plan and bring your vision to life. We can use the freedom you do have to design and furnish the space to look more custom. 

To continue our food analogy, you could think of a spec home as a nice restaurant. The options aren’t limitless, but you can ask the kitchen to customize your order to some extent.

3. Custom Home

A custom home starts with a plot of land, a fresh slate, and endless possibilities. Now, this is like having a personal chef at home, ready to whip up whatever your heart desires. Unlike production and spec homes, you can make every decision while building a custom home. Large and small decisions alike, you have the freedom to determine the number of bathrooms or designate unique, custom trim details throughout the home. Nothing is out of reach!


La Maison in Chagrin Falls is a custom home we helped design and furnish for our clients, a couple of empty nesters who had fallen in love with the French countryside and their wines!

The custom home building process begins by working with an architect and an interior designer (like us) to create a floorplan. Together, these two professionals map out the home and carefully think through how to make the best use of every single space. Next, you’ll hire your builder, who will look at the plans, tell you if his/her team can do it, and give you a quote for the scope of work.


This custom home was designed and furnished to reflect our clients’ love of the outdoors…and the stunning natural landscape right outside their windows.

Which Type of New Build is Right for You?

That answer all depends on you, your desired investment, and the lifestyle you want to create at home. As a designer who loves creative freedom, I confess that I have a favorite: custom homes. I absolutely love working with families building the exact home of their dreams, one that reflects your interests and daily lifestyle.

But… is a designer right for you? What do we actually do, other than guide you through the custom home process and pick out materials? Come take a look… 

Hiring an Interior Designer

There are many misconceptions about what interior designers actually do. Yes, I choose color schemes, window treatments, and high-quality furnishings, but my team and I also do SO much more. Keep reading to learn exactly what a designer will – and won’t — do during a home project.

What a Will Designer Do for You?

Offer creative solutions for your lifestyle. Designers not only have specialized technical training and experience, but we have highly creative minds. This combination gives us the ability to problem-solve in unique ways, coming up with innovative solutions to your family’s daily inconveniences. Designers enjoy serving people, and we want your experience in your new home to fit your own unique lifestyle.

Keep the project on track, from start to finish. Designers serve as liaisons between the homeowner and the construction team. This means that you won’t have to be on-site to answer questions, monitor progress, or field phone calls. We’re experienced in the building process and take over those tasks, representing you and your desires in daily decisions.

Save you time during the process and long after. In addition to the time we save you on project management, we will also carefully sift through hundreds, if not thousands, of options for materials, finishes, hardware, and more. We present you with only the best options for your lifestyle, saving you from wasting valuable time aimlessly walking up and down the aisles at showrooms. Save yourself the time (and decision fatigue) and leave the sourcing to your trusted guide.

Uplevel the home with custom-designed features. Believe it or not, designers are involved in the creation of custom-designed features and furnishings, such as built-ins, cabinetry, banquettes, and more. We summarize these into construction documents (called elevations) that your build team will use to implement the design. We can also design custom sofas, tables, case goods, window treatments, and more. When it comes to design features, if there’s a will, there’s a way.

Manage your investment wisely. With a designer on your team, you can be certain that you’re strategically allocating funds in the best possible ways. We’ll offer guidance on when to save and when to splurge to maximize your investment and produce a beautiful and timeless end result.


Read more about our Mountain Home Design in Munson here.

What Won’t a Designer Do for You?

Go shopping with you. As much as we all enjoy an afternoon browsing the stores, this is not an activity your designer will do with you. Our creative skill lies in sifting through those thousands of options (many of which aren’t available down the road) to find only the best ones for you. That’s simply not something we can do in a day of shopping. Plus, you’re hiring us to do the work for you — not having to shop is a perk!

Show you every option. Likewise, we won’t show you everything. (And if you saw just how many options there were for simple drawer pulls, tile, and lighting, you’d be very thankful!) Of course, we want you to have options for your new home, but our goal is to remove the overwhelm during the decision-making process, not add to it. Instead, we do the work of exploring the many available choices and provide you with only the best ones that complement your overall design.

Call you for every decision. Believe me, your phone would be ringing all day if we did. Instead, we establish a great relationship with you in the beginning, getting to know you, your priorities, and your lifestyle. With this foundation of trust established, you can rest assured that the tedious decision-making will be handled expertly and in line with your goals and our agreed-upon design. 

As your liaison with the construction team, we are present and available to answer their questions about the home’s design and details that are bound to arise. We will represent you along the way, only involving you in the most important ones and helping guide you through making any decisions required.


Are you ready to take the next step?

Building a home is an exciting venture full of numerous decisions along the way. Think of an interior designer as a helpful and trustworthy friend (the one who gets things done) who comes alongside you to bring clarity, provide support, and make the home building process fun.

If you’ve decided that an interior designer would be a benefit during your new home build, I happen to know a great one – wink! Reach out here, and let’s see if we’re the right fit for you and your dream home.



Clevelan Ohio interior design

I’m Ingrid Porter. As a designer with 30+ years of experience serving Northeastern Ohio, I specialize in personal and detail-driven design for families building or transforming the home of their dreams. If you’re ready to take “home” to the next level, we can’t wait to work with you.

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