Watson Realty Corp. Realtors®

(904) 576-0706

New Construction Homes: Planning Your Design Center Visit

When you buy a new construction home one of the most exciting (but also overwhelming!) things you'll do is visit a design center to choose the features and finishes of your new home.  Here are some tips for your design center visit.



  • Consider what you like or dislike about your current home. Do you love your flooring, countertops or color scheme and want to replicate it? Are your cabinets not practical or is your lighting limited? In your new house you are starting from scratch so consider using what works for you now and eliminating what doesn't.
  • Choose a color palette before you go. Having a color scheme in mind before you go to your design appointment will allow you to narrow your focus to coordinating finishes. You will likely be choosing flooring, cabinets, appliances, fixtures, lighting, wall coverings and more and you'll want complementary colors.
  • Set your budget. Once you get to the design center the options and upgrades are unlimited. Builders I've spoken with tell me that the average customer spends an additional 10%-20% of the sale price on upgrades. Setting your budget in advance may help you avoid costly temptations.
  • Consider your family's lifestyle and priorities. If the kitchen is the hub of your house perhaps that's the room you'll want to allocate most of your budget for. If you frequently watch movies together the media room might be the most important to you. Do you have pets? Consider the flooring that will be most durable and easy to clean. 


  • Arrive on time. You'll have many decisions to make and the time will pass quickly. Show up on time and ready to get to work!
  • Bring a few photos to share with the designer. Many people bring photos from Pinterest, design sites or homes they like. This helps the designer get an idea of your style and preferences.
  • Resist the temptation to include features that are super-trendy. Unless you are likely to change things up in your home every couple of years be mindful of how quickly trends come and go. Remember sponge painted walls? Brass bath fixtures? Knotty pine cabinets? They had their day and will likely come back in style again. In the meantime, choose your options carefully so you won't mind living with them long term.
  • Consider what can be done after closing.  Because you are carefully sticking to a budget you may not be able to get every feature/upgrade you want. While you are choosing options keep in mind that some things can be done rather easily after closing and often at less expense, even if a handyman is needed. You may want to hold off on upgrades of things like ceiling fans, shower heads, wallpaper and closet organization systems and have them done after you buy the house.
  • Unless you are absolutely sure that you're buying your forever home, keep the resale value of your home in mind. You may love pink granite and tile but if you cover your master bath with it chances are it may turn off a future buyer.  
  • When in doubt, bail out! If you don't love something you've chosen or if you feel that you are settling, eliminate it and choose again.  
  •  Have fun! You and your Realtor have likely worked hard to get to this point - choosing a community, a builder and a floor plan. Now it is time to put the finishing design touches on what will soon be your beautiful new home. Enjoy every single minute at the design center! 

Julie Bentley has been a St Johns, FL Realtor ® since 2011. During that time she has visited the Design Centers of many builders in the area. Most often she has accompanied her customers to their appointments but from time-to-time she has been known to stop in just to see what is currently trending in new home design. She may or may not have left those appointments feeling just a little dated.