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5 Mistakes to Avoid When Building Your Dream Home

You are about to embark on a very exciting, yet intimidating process and you are not sure where to even start. You may have some ideas of a few rooms or maybe too many ideas to sort through. You may be asking yourself, what should I be doing to ensure I am happy with my new home?  Our professional interior designers work with homeowners on a daily bases to ensure they are in love with their new space. Here are some mistakes we recommend avoiding to ensure a smooth design and construction process.

1. Not Having a Clear Plan

The first step in navigating how to create your dream home is to establish a clear plan of priorities, style, needs verses wants for each space and of course budget. Sitting down and dissecting each of these in the initial planning phase is critical for two reasons. First, while you may have a clear idea of what you want initially, it is often easy to have confusion later in the final selection or during the construction process. Staying true to your end goal is often best by referencing back to the concept images you are trying to achieve and remembering your priorities. Secondly, it is easier to justify spending the extra expenses later on as it all will seem high priority in the midst of detailed decision making. Knowing where you want to allot more of the budget upfront can help.


Start with Pinterest or Houzz for design ideas of each room and noting what you like about those images. The styles that are repeated often help indicate a clear design path and begin the decision making process. Writing down the most important items you want included in your dream home is very important as well as dissecting what isn’t of high importance for budget later on.

2. Not Maximizing on the Design Process

A mistake when building a custom home is not spending enough time in planning. Everyone is always so eager to have construction start, but I think the most important phase is the planning phase. If the plan is 100% right, then the rest of the construction process will go smoothly and not require time-consuming changes. Really have the professional walk you through the “space” and describe what the flow of space will be right. Double check the plan against your priority list. Think about and make decisions early about how each room will be used. Each decision affects the lighting layout, the plumbing layout, the electrical layout. Get the plan right first and you will be happy later.

3. Choose your Team Wisely

Establishing a professional team that you are comfortable with is essential. You will rely on them for advice or skilled labor and if it is not a cohesive relationship it will make the entire process much more difficult. Make sure to interview each professional and establish clear expectations for all parties involved. Of course working with people you have personal relationships with don’t always mean that a professional relationship will flow. We always make sure our clients feel heard as listening is something that can never be understated. Our firm prides ourselves in allowing the client to direct their style as we guide them in achieving the project goals.

4. Not Taking Professional Advice

One mistake is not listening to the professional. Now that you’ve established your team, you want to maximize on their experience. It could be a real estate broker who spoke to you early in the process and heard your priorities. They may be seeing something you don’t. If you’re not listening to the professional you hired, like the architect, designer or contractor, and still asking each of your friends for their individual opinions, then it’s more likely you will make a mistake. The professional is going to know the full details of the project, budget, design expectations and advise you on the important options to be addressed.

5. Taking on Too Many Opinions

Similar to the previous statement, one very common mistake that happens when designing your dream home is including too many outside opinions from loved ones. Whether asking for them or receiving unsolicited advice can often create confusion as to what the design goals of the project are. Homeowners can often feel overwhelmed of the design and construction process, making it difficult when it’s time to make final decisions. Remember to go back to your priority lists, creative boards and ask your professionals to assist in sorting out the priorities with you. The beauty of design is there are endless options to choose from but don’t let that intimidate you. The end result will be a beautiful one as this is a home tailor-made for your family’s needs, a decision you will happy with for many years to come.


I wish you the best of luck in your design endeavors!

by Elizabeth S. Vaughan in Design Tips

What We Can Do to Create Healthy Buildings

The Covid-19 crisis will have far reaching consequences. For the interior design industry, it will mean a greater focus on creating spaces that help to keep occupants healthy. As a LEED Accredited designer, most recently we have been focused on keen energy-saving methods and material reuse strategies. Now, we can add increased attention to advanced air quality improvement techniques and promoting materials that have natural and added qualities of inhibiting bacterial growth.

For indoor air quality, working with mechanical engineers to specify improved air filtration systems that go beyond the label of “acceptable” will be key. Advanced systems should now be the goal for optimal air quality. In addition, the specification of interior materials, such as paints and wallcoverings that have bacterial guards inherent in their material composition or with an additional treatment, will bring an added benefit of protecting occupants.

Another area of attention for reducing the spread of germs will be limiting the areas of public touch. Limiting those points at both entry and exit points to conference rooms or restrooms can be addressed. Restrooms currently have lots of options for touchless faucets, soap and towel dispensers. But providing touchless doors via voice activation or wireless access could be an option. Providing single-touch electric access or push doors for both entry and exits (with access to antibacterial wipes nearby) can offer occupants healthier environments.

I don’t know that open concept offices will change that much, but maybe those open collaborative spaces can become larger, partitions just a little higher.

I invite you to contact me to continue this discussion and how we can take steps, both large and small, to provide your staff and visitors with safer and healthier work environments.

by Elizabeth S. Vaughan in Design Blog

Business as Unusual: Design x the Corona Virus

What a historical time we are in…with schools, restaurants, and businesses closed across the country, it’s impossible to feel normal. It goes without saying that health and safety matter above all else these days. The In-Site team continues to be accessible and is fully connected to our servers, project information, programs, and applications. We are being creative and holding virtual meetings, creating boards with the samples for the projects, and then discussing them with our clients on GotoMeeting, our preferred video platform. We are following CDC guidelines as well as all measures recommended by local, state and federal governments.

We are in a new phase of how to continue to provide you with the level of service that you have been accustomed to. We look forward to providing continued service through these difficult times and look ahead to better times!


by Elizabeth S. Vaughan in Design Blog

Interview with Elizabeth

I am every excited to have been interviewed by Steve Barker of LIBI and the Affiliated Insurance Agency. We had a great time talking and I invite you to listen in to hear about In-Site, what’s going on in the office and a little bit about who I am!

Open the episode on your iPhone:


Or open on your android phone:


Thanks for listening! Contact me if you have any comments or questions!

All the Best to You!

by Elizabeth S. Vaughan in Design Blog

Kitchen Renovation

Here’s a fun post from my Instagram account about our most recent kitchen renovation:

So today I’m at the almost final installation of my client’s kitchen, and it’s been a long road, as many renovations are. The design was actually the easy part with the client and I collaborating on a black and white kitchen. I provided colored drawings (black infill and black line!) and reviewed a couple of options with her. Would she like the black cabinets more if they were the upper cabinets or the lower cabinets? (I liked the uppers.) Would she like the tall cabinets to be the black or white? (I liked the black.)

Our goal is always to have our residential clients love what goes into their homes. They should smile every time they walk into the finished room so I find our best projects are a collaboration that satisfies both the design style we are striving for and the function that meets all their needs.

This kitchen interior design was finalized with the black cabinets on the bottom and tall white cabinets but I was so pleased when I received the phone call that she LOVES her new kitchen and everyone who visited for Thanksgiving to watch the parade raved about it.

The final touch to complete the black and white design scheme is the yellow gold interior of the glass cabinet which was inspired by an artwork in the original kitchen.

We should all feel joy from our surroundings! Wishing you that kind of joy today!


by Elizabeth S. Vaughan in Design Blog

What Types of Interiors Does In-Site Interior Design Do For You: Residential, Kitchen, Living Room, Bedroom, Bath; Commercial,Offices, Lobbies, Healthcare

So many times I am asked: What kind of interior design do you do? I am happy to tell you that as interior design artists at In-Site Interior Design, we apply our creative design talents to all types of projects.  We specialize in Residential and Commercial Design.  Home/Residential Interior Design includes Kitchen Interior Design, Living Room Interior Design, Dining Room Interior Design, Bedroom Interior Design, Kids Interior Design, Hallway Interior Design.  We do it for Private Homes, Condos, and Apartments. Our Commercial Interior Design includes Corporate Office Interior Design and Lobby Interior Design.  Our Healthcare Interior Design includes Medical Offices, Nursing Homes and Dental Offices.  We have expertise in Retail Design, including Boutique Hotels, and Corridor Interiors. We also do Interior Design for new development buildings and well as renovations, Apartment Building Design including Condo Building Interior Design, Co-op Building Interior Design and Rental Building Interior Design.

What about our style?

Well, each of our clients are very different so we design within the style they love! We do contemporary interior design style for the clients who want that, and traditional interior design style for the clients who want that. And for those in between, then we give them a transitional interior design style that fits their lifestyle.  We are happy to use our long and well-established list of resrouces to research style and function-specific design ideas for each of our clients.

Where do you work?

We have worked on design projects as far as California and Florida. But mostly we are NYC Interior Designers, working in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Long Island City. We also have clients in New Jersey so we are happy to give you a creative interior design for your home, office or building.

Call me, Elizabeth, to discuss how I and my team of excellent interior designers can turn your design vision into a reality!


by Elizabeth S. Vaughan in Design Blog

ICFF 2019 Review by In-Site Interior Design

This year’s ICFF, The International Contemporary Furniture Fair, brought the usual high caliber manufacturers we count on to be there.  Bernhardt gave us a spacious display again. It highlighted only a few and wonderful seating pieces and tables. Kohler provided an interactive exhibit and new rainhead showers.  The display also had some new finishes, like Rose Gold Ombre, which combines black with Rose Gold for a great effect. Emtec showed off their mix of finishes that now available on a single lever.  Their black and brass knurled lever is just stunning!

And here are some newcomers were a welcome addition.  Laser cut porcelain tile that can provide a budget alternative to more expensive water jet cut stone by Audrey Lane.  Intricate paper dividers by Procedes Chenel and decorative concrete panels by Opiary. Look out for the new LED wallcoverings that really make a bright statement!

ICFF Procedes Chenel      ICFF water jet cut stone by Audrey Lane      ICFF Kohler faucet Rose Gold Ombre     ICFF Emtec door handles

by Elizabeth S. Vaughan in Design Blog

Words on Multi-Family Markets from Developer Pros

I was happy to listen to prodigious developers Charlie Bendit of Taconic Investment Properties, David Dishy of L & M Development Partners and Meade Curtis of WinnCompanies who were joined by Paul Massey of B6 Real Estate and Andrew Lyons of Fulcrum to discuss the State of the Market in Multi-family Market Rate properties at the NYC Bisnow event recently. These are take-away thoughts from the seminar:

Manhattan’s new construction projects are averaging about $500-$525/ square foot. If it’s non-union, it’s about $100/s.f. less. All in with land, figures of approx.. $1,000-$1,1100/square foot is typical.

When it comes to Brooklyn, it’s much less expensive. Figures of $285 – $324/sf are more likely.

There has been a lot of local interest in mass timber building but right not there is a 6 floor limit in the city. Its benefit is that it needs less labor to put up.

In general, the City needs to rezone areas to support higher density. Inwood is a good example of when rezoning works. It was rezoned in the prior administration and there was good growth of available housing units after that.

Essex crossing by Taconic Investments has been a successful example of high density and mixed use. Target and Trader Joe’s brought retail; There’s a child care company, a Regal theater and the ICP useum is opening in 2019 alongside 3 multi-family buildings.

When asked about where the panelists thought the real emerging markets may be Charlie said “Follow the Transportation.”  Housing follows good transportation in and out of the city.

Meade thinks the outer ring of NY will emerge strong for housing: Rochester, East Haven, CT. Right now he’s working on a Boston project.

Andrew believes the whole New Haven line is ripe for new building.

David thinks New Rochelle is open to development.

David also understands how important interior design is for residential multi-family buildings. He calls it the “Hotelification” of residential multi-family.

Paul Massey believes the Bronx is a place for big opportunities.

It was a great event and I highly recommend looking at the upcoming Bisnow events.

Lobby design by In-Site for a Brooklyn development currently under construction.

by Elizabeth S. Vaughan in Design Blog

Designing Multi-family Developments: Achieving Full Occupancy Fast

We’ve found five key factors in creating buildings that achieve full occupancy, fast — optimized living spaces, cutting-edge amenities, aspirational design, fair market pricing, and superior customer service. In-Site Interior Design excels at reading the nuances of a given market to help architects and developers deliver on these imperatives.


Of those five, as the team’s interior designer, we are responsible for the first three. To ensure good layouts, we review the architect’s base plans and make recommendations for better spatial flow in the units. Then we create amenity spaces that give tenants and guests those extra spaces to relax in and enjoy. Some basic amenities include combining a pool table with a ping pong topper offering two games in one area and tables or counters with charging modules. A fitness center built on a good estimate of projected usage is key while a separate room for screening movies or gaming can be provided or even rented for parties, thereby becoming an income stream for the building. Other more unusual amenities we’ve considered recently are dog park rooms for those cold winter days and running free (while contained), recreation rooms outfitted with classic arcade games, libraries with rare books, storage rooms located on individual floors, and green rooftop terraces with bbq’s and showers. And don’t forget the in-house high-speed internet access that everyone expects, especially in business centers geared towards the entrepreneur or freelancer working from home.

Meeting aspiration goals is key. Today’s developments can look like luxury hotels with high end materials and custom lighting. We pride ourselves on designing buildings that go above expectations, but do so with well priced materials with long wearing warranties. Feeling good when you walk in and having that quality last is the ultimate goal after full occupancy is achieved.

We know what it takes, and we’ll deliver for you.

by Elizabeth S. Vaughan in Design Blog

Shedding Light on LED Lighting

We all know that LED lights are replacing traditional ‘lamps’ (the official word for a light bulb) because they are more energy efficient. But do they do what we need them to do for us?

In essence, there are 4 important things to know about an LED lamp:

  • The wattage
  • The color temperature or Kelvin rating
  • The lumen output or how bright it is
  • The type of lamp it is: for open fixtures or fully enclosed fixtures

Yes, LED lamps are excellent in regards to the electrical wattage being used. The comparison in wattage is amazing: a 100 watt incandescent translates to a 12 watt LED lamp. So we save lots of dollars over the course of the year in electrical usage.

But being picky about the color of the lamp is really important. Manufacturers have come up with a 2700k (the k is for the Kelvin scale of color temperature) that tries to replicate the traditional “yellow-ness” of a typical incandescent lamp. And that’s what you will get when you just pick up lamps in any hardware store. But be wary: those 2700k lamps over time get too yellow!

I think the way LED lamps are made is pretty cool. In a very simple version, lots of those tiny diode lights (those are the little dots of lights) are produced in wide and very long sheets or rolls. The ones in the center of those sheets are right on target with the color they are produced in, say 2700k versus 3500k. But those diodes on the sides and the very edges of the sheets aren’t so accurate. There are a lot of imported lamps that are inexpensive because they come from the edges of the sheets. They may start out close to 2700k but over time they will shift and get warmer or yellow as they go on.

My recommendation is to go for 3000k whenever possible from a quality manufacturer (Target sells a GE lamp that is 2950k that is still warm but doesn’t scream Yellow.) Generally I specifiy 3000k in most interiors. It is crisp and clean without being too yellow (warm) or too cold (blue.) Homes, offices, rehabilitation centers all benefit from that clean color.

Now, let me say this about lumens. Look for as high a lumen number as you can get. Lumens are really the brightness of the lamp. The higher the lumen, the brighter the lamp will be. And if you have dimmer switches, then you’ll be able to make your space quieter or brighter depending on what your mood is.

Lastly, be aware: when you’re replacing a standard lamp with an LED lamp, if it is a fully enclosed fixture, you must get LED lamps that say For Fully Enclosed Fixtures. This is because if it’s not, the driver (the electrical part that feeds the light) will burn out. I had a terrible time on a project because the lamps were burning out in 3 months. We would all expect our new LED lamps to last longer than 3 months. We’re used to getting years out of fluorescents, so why shouldn’t we expect that? Well, the LED technology is fussier than fluorescent lights, and let’s face it, it’s still a relatively new technology that is being mass produced and they’re working on getting it right.

So if that’s not enough, don’t forget about those wonderful Edison lights you are seeing all over. They replicate the early century of Thomas Edison lamps that have the filament of an incandescent glow. They have wonderful atmosphere and the very yellow light they give off are part of their charm!

I’m including the chart below for your reference and I welcome any questions you may have. I will be talking about the future of lighting types and shapes in upcoming blogs so come back to check in. In the meantime, Shine Brightly!!

Incandescent Watts                LED Watts                               LED Lumens

75-100                                     9-13                                         1100-1300

60                                            6-8                                           750-900

40                                            4-5                                           450


by Elizabeth S. Vaughan in Design Blog