The Seven Strategies

Built-ins, a favorite of buyers at all price points, can easily be constructed with stock materials.
Built-ins, a favorite of buyers at all price points, can easily be constructed with stock materials.

Industry pros agree that creating an interior ‘wow’ factor is best achieved by focusing the budget on details homeowners experience daily. Using stock products in innovative ways gets pronounced results. Architect Carson Looney, founder of Looney Ricks Kiss (LRK), advises paying close attention to the often overlooked hallway between garage and kitchen. “It’s the owner’s entry, so why not plan and design to make this space just as important as the front foyer?” he asks. LRK architect Mike Sullivan advocates designing one or two really strong elements that define the interior, such as spending more on kitchen cabinets and a ceiling height of 11 feet. LRK often takes advantage of local products and craftspeople to create these statement pieces.

“The millwork shops in Baton Rouge are so strong that we do custom cabinetry in every house in that market for less than production cabinets,” Sullivan says. “But even with off-the-shelf cabinetry, we do a 42-inch upper cabinet and then another one above that so you get this strong vertical line.”

Other off-the-shelf products can be made to look custom, says architect Donald Powers. His firm looks for places to include alcoves; it then buys stock furniture to slide into the space, seals it, and trims it out for easy, inexpensive built-ins.

Precise lighting placement also can create interior drama with minimal cost, shares developer Bill McGuinness. “Just put in slightly smaller lights on a dimmer and place them closer to the wall,” he says, “then you have a room that’s like an art gallery and the atmosphere is so much better.”

His other standard upgrade is to put a frosted door on any windowless room. “It costs a little more,” he admits, “but it allows daylight to brighten the room or at night with the door closed, light filters out into the adjacent space like a Japanese lantern.”

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Baton Rouge, LA.