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The New Home Wishlist: Six Key Design Elements to make note of when preparing for a Home Renovation

You’ve just moved into your new space and are so excited to make this new house your home. But you’re staring to feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start or what the best renovation approach is that will result in your dream home.

Don’t Panic! Through my own experience living in a soon-to-be-renovated home, I’ve come up with a way to make a categorized running list of things that you like and dislike, what works and what doesn’t. Keep a log of things that you find yourself wanting and needing to make your day-to-day easier.

Slowly creating these notes will really help determine which areas you should prioritize for your renovation. It also will inform your Interior Designer when you are ready to renovate, and you’ll feel confident moving forward with future decisions on the new design of your home.

(And while the title of this post it called “The New Home Wishlist” this method is helpful for anyone at any stage of homeownership who wants to streamline their vision for a renovation!)

I’m going to walk you through six design elements that I consider extremely important to assess and take note of when living in your home:

1. Natural light + Window Views

2. Layout + Lifestyle

3. Mechanical + Electrical Systems

4. Finishes

5. Storage

6. Special Occasions + Holidays


1. Natural Light + Window Views

Probably the top reason I recommend a full year of waiting, is because of how different natural light floods spaces throughout an entire year-cycle. It is so important to understand and study how this light enters your space and how it makes you feel. This can help determine if you feel you need more natural light (new windows, or larger windows), what kind of window treatment makes sense, and how it might impact your interior layouts.

Some tangible examples to show you what I mean:

One of our clients decided to swap her condo bedroom and office space; she works exclusively from home and decided she wanted to take advantage of the natural light from her ‘bedroom’ and make that her dedicated office space. As a result she didn’t have to worry about blackout treatments in her windowless new bedroom space.

Another client decided to take down an entire wall because they noted it blocked so much of the natural light from the entryway.

In our own home, we are steering away from a solid wood door (what I always dreamed of by the way) and installing a glazed door to allow more natural light flood into our entryway.

Understanding how natural light moves through your home might be the most important design element to consider and make note of throughout the year.


2. Layout + Lifestyle

Because your home is first and foremost a foundation for the rest of your life, your current and possible future lifestyle need to be top of mind when considering the layout of your home.

The spatial needs of a growing family, versus an aging homeowner versus a single or adult only household vary greatly.

Do you love to host?

Do you work-from-home? Is it all the time or some of the time?

What kind of flow do you want in your space? Open concept versus semi-open versus closed?

How do each of those make you feel?

All these planning considerations need to be taken in to account, and when you live in the home you have the time to be more thoughtful and intentional with those decisions and self-reflection.


3. The Guts of your Home: Mechanical and Electrical Systems

Arguably the most important in many ways, these are the flaws that might take the most time to make themselves known.

Bought your house in the summertime? Great – maybe you have a sense of how well the AC works, but what about the furnace? How dry does it get in your home in the winter months – and could that mean you need a furnace upgrade, or an integrated humidifier installed, or would new windows help best? Are things cracking in the home based on your humidity levels? What could that mean for hardwood floors you were envisioning?

You plug in your electric toothbrush, you have your bathroom lights on, maybe have your phone charging as you get ready, you’re about to blow dry your hair and bam – a circuit shorts. Gosh that’s annoying.

Add it to the list! Ideally that shouldn’t be happening, but now you know it needs to be addressed.

Lighting: is there enough? It feels low and dim, or too bright and sterile. You wish your pot lights were dimmable, or you wish you had pot lights in the first place, you can hardly see what you're washing in the middle of winter and it's dark at 5pm (Enter my Canadian day-light-savings time woes).


4. Finishes + Fixtures

You know what catches your eye, but while a new home brings an exciting new opportunity for finishes and appliances – what are those finishes and fixtures actually like to LIVE with.

What kind of tiles do you have? Ceramic tile? Porcelain? Natural stone?

How are they to clean, what have you learned to like or really dislike of these? Maybe you feel even more certain on what you want for your future reno than ever before.

Are the floors making a lot of sounds – like creaking hardwood or echoing hallways?

What about your sinks and faucets - what's working about them or not working about them? Do you have an undermount sink or are you wiping the counter and getting crumbs lodged in the lip of the drop-in sink?

Does your stove allow for a lot of cooking pots at the same time? How about a turkey pan and your baking sheets, do they fit?

5. Storage

This might be obvious in the list, but honestly, I feel like I still make note of storage I wish I had.

Think about it things like broom closets, seasonal clothes, toys or exercise equipment.

Do you need more closed storage? What about those odds and ends in the kitchen you crammed into a cupboard when you were unpacking – is this wasted space that you could use in a different way?

Mudroom - a huge request these days. Do you have one? Could you have one? Where do you put your coats and shoes in all seasons?

Seasonal items: where are those boxes and wrapping paper going to go, is it working for you right now?

6. Holidays + Special Occasions

Finally, one of my personal favourites – that my friends poke fun of me for – is holiday and special occasion planning. I’m talking small details you can integrate in your home that are the least obvious UNTIL you start decorating for the holiday season or preparing for a special event you're hosting.

Celebrate Christmas? Where do you think you want your tree? Is there an outlet for your lights in the spot? Are you limited by where there IS an outlet?

How about your outdoor lights too, or are we having to fumble over an electrical wire?

What about any garland? A lot of lights are battery-operated - not the most environmentally friendly solution, and so plug-in is the best way to go. Add an outlet to your wishlist at an ideal location.

Hosting a party or larger dinner? Remember how you wanted to renovate the kitchen right away? How are the appliances? Can your fridge store food that you need and room for drinks? Do you have an extra freezer or cooler in the basement perhaps? What about a turkey? Can that go anywhere? Do your baking sheets fit in the oven? What about your recycling and garbage overflow (think empties and extra napkins and compost) where does that go? Do you have a landing area for appetizers and gathering, like an island?

These events tie back to your lifestyle, and if you take the time to think about how this will all work and what needs to be improved – trust me – you’ll be thanking yourself for years to come!


And there you have it! You’ll be surprised where these observations will take you, and being armed with this thorough research and thoughtful observations, you'll feel confident in providing this list over to your Interior Designer when you're ready to take action and plan for your renovation. Worried you forgot something on your Wishlist? Not to worry - at APD we have a process that covers all angles of understanding how you live, work and breathe in your spaces to make sure every aspect gets considered in the Design Stage. Make sure to reach out for us and set up a complimentary Phone Date to get the process started!

I can't wait to see your Wishlists to make your dream home, a reality!



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