As soon as Dustin and I decided we wanted to build our first home together, we discovered a wonderful new hobby: walking through other homes that are under construction. Our house was the second to last house to be finished in our neighborhood and you better believe that if there was an unfinished house in the neighborhood between July 2016 when we signed the papers until May 2017 when we closed, we walked that house.
In fact, we enjoyed exploring other floor plans, seeing (and often judging) other people's design choices, and generally getting ideas so much, that we still do it today. This is me from a random Sunday in July, more than a year after our house finished, swooning over a double shower in a house we walked in a different neighborhood.
One of the great things about looking at so many other houses is that other people often have really good ideas. Whether you are building or re-modeling a home, you do not need to come up with every design feature yourself. Don't reinvent the wheel. We took tons of photos from other homes of granite/cabinet color combos we liked, made mental notes of light fixtures that looked great, and generally soaked in other peoples' imaginations.
Easily the best thing that came from being inspired by other homeowners was changing our floor color. We initially chose a medium brown with gray undertones for our hardwoods. We liked the idea of a lighter floor color but worried that some of the available samples would be too red. About 4 days before the order was placed for our hardwood floors, we walked a house at the end of our street that had a different floor color. We knew then and there that we had to copy that house! We called our designer and she got it changed in the nick of time.
If we hadn't taken the time to be inspired by other homes, we never would have seen these floors in person or realized how perfect they would be in our house.
During our design phase, we also got inspiration from showrooms and furniture stores. Pinterest is great, and HGTV is obviously filled with hosts to give you ideas. But there is something to be said for seeing those ideas in person. Get out of the house, physically check out a designed space, and see what sparks your imagination!
I'm so glad we saw these floors in another house and had time to change ours. They're perfect!