Planning is key |

Planning is key

During these winter months I find myself drawn to my home more than ever before. It’s like diving into everything I love, including fragrances, colors, textures, memories and sounds that make life good. Every evening, I slow my pace and my tight shoulders relax as I drop the outside world near the door. My home is about peace, comfort and joy.

Your home should provide the same sensations. I am most proud and fulfilled when I get to help others get that “ahhh” feeling in their homes. The goal is to create the best home possible within your budget. The key is planning. The more we plan and work together on the design, the better the results and the better the price.

The design and planning phase is so critical, I spent years testing different methods. Many years ago I began learning various CAD (Computer Aided Design) programs until I found the Professional 3D Home Design Software which offers the most complete and efficient solution for me and my clients.

I used to draw plans by hand and I would do a few hand-sketched views of rooms for clients, but it was time consuming. Now as I am drawing floorplans in my computer, my program is actually creating 3D objects that we can view. The 3D views help us see options including different colors, textures, flooring materials, trim colors, cabinets and countertops, furniture and I can even add the outside views to ensure the best sizing and placement of windows and doors!

My professional CAD program creates much more accurate plans than drawing by hand and it is easy to change and move things as we refine the designs. Additionally, it has proven to be the most helpful and efficient way to do design work because my clients can virtually tour the spaces before work begins. It saves time and money because there are fewer surprises and costly change orders.

One client I am currently working with is a man who told me he doesn’t feel comfortable in his bedroom and living room. He works extremely hard and needs his space to provide rest and rejuvenate him. Changing the two, somewhat small rooms is strictly a decorating job. I suggested new wall color, window treatments and furnishings and accessories.

To present my ideas to him, I quickly drew the walls, windows and doorways of the spaces in my CAD program and added the types of colors, furnishings and accessories I had in mind. I showed him the spaces using an “interior overview.” It is a 3D view from above without the roof or ceilings and it allows a client to see how the rooms flow and relate to one another and how furniture could be placed.

I also toured him through the spaces using an “interior rendering” camera tool in my program. He gasped in surprise and said he never, ever thought something like this was possible. To see the rooms in this way helped him understand the spaces. And he so loved the colors and the furniture suggestions that he immediately encouraged me to move forward.

I often help people design custom homes or do extensive remodels or additions. When doing this, it is critical to take advantage of the site. Beautiful views should be celebrated by carefully placing doors and windows and arranging rooms so that the outdoors can be appreciated. My computer program allows me to place photos of the outdoor views and scenery as the backdrop for the homes I’m designing. The result is that the rendering views show the client’s view through windows and doors.

I am currently helping a couple design a vacation home on the water in Ketchikan, Alaska. These busy clients are not able to meet with me often, so I e-mail images showing different views of the home and specific rooms. Even with very few meetings, we continue to make progress and we will make the best possible decisions.

This Alaska home will be right on the water, so I have imported a photo depicting their water view and it appears in all the renderings I e-mail to them. This is helping us decide on windows and doors and how to arrange the room so that everyone in the great room can enjoy the ocean views.

Planning is such an important step. I always tell people that homes tend to cost as much to build or improve whether they are done well or done poorly. So why not plan carefully and do it well? It’s an easy way to get that “ahhh” feeling in your home.

Erin Miller is the owner of Erin Miller Designs in Grass Valley CA. They offer custom home designs and plans, interior design and decor, and complete drafting services. She can be reached at (530) 477-1401, or at

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