The Fun of Focus

Designing a home can be a daunting task when it comes to budget and decision making. In such moments—when the seriousness of it all sets in—Elisa reminds her clients to see the fun in the process, and to remember that working with a creative team encourages cohesive decision-making.To lighten the mood, she directs focus to core concerns, outlined below:

Where will you live?

Concentrate your energy and resources on the rooms where you intend to spend most of your time. Once identified, excitement will ensue with an eye to sourcing special pieces reflective of personality and place, like a character-rich antique basin sink for a prime-location powder room, a custom underlit bar for a tequila-collecting client, or a young family’s bustling mudroom replete with custom shoe cubbies and closets. Kitchens and primary suites often top the list of importance, thereby receiving close aesthetic consideration that can carry through into other spaces. “You may want it all, but it’s hard to do it all,” Elisa says. “Pick the rooms that matter most to you.”

What conditions shape your site and your lifestyle?

Thoughtful evaluations of your property and lifestyle can greatly simplify budget discussions. A work-from-home profession requires a resolute workspace, replete with window treatments to desaturate Zoom meetings. In contrast, a remote, forested property may allow for skipping draperies in select spaces—although kids’ rooms should always have curtains for privacy. Children should also be considered when custom sourcing; an investment rug in the living room may not stand up to the barrage of little ones whereas a custom slipcovered sofa will. And staircases need some sort of tread for tiny feet. “I always go back to functionality,” Elisa says. “What will allow for your peace of mind?”

What elements deliver the most impact?

Oftentimes, the interior architecture sets the tone for a home: the foundational decisions that define the overall aesthetic of the space. When recruited early in the building process, Elisa guides clients to make investments that matter—in structural materials and finishes. For instance, in her own home, she splurged on panoramic windows, which meant she waited to source key pieces of furniture until her budget replenished. Everyday, she affirms the wisdom of that decision as she takes in the valley views so beautifully framed by the towering panes. Be patient, she advises. Resist the desire to want everything “done” the moment you move in; instead, “focus on the things you are going to love living with for 25 years,” she says. “Furniture and accessories can be layered in over time.”

Above all, Elisa advises her clients to take an evolutionary approach to designing their home. Making wise, core decisions at the onset allows for future fine-tuning with furnishings and accessories. “Let your house evolve with you,” Elisa says.