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What to Expect Series: Session 4: Finish Selections in Renovations

Updated: Feb 16, 2022

The finish selection process is an exciting, fun, and sometimes stressful experience. If you have been through a renovation before, you may have reached this point and found yourself developing “decision fatigue.” Considering the sheer amount of possibilities when it comes to items you can put into your home (from flooring and cabinets, to toilet paper holders and baseboards), it isn’t hard to see why someone would want to outsource this work. This is where we can help.

Prior to starting the finish selection process for our clients, we need to have set floor plans in place and preliminary cabinet layouts so we know exactly what selections are required. We do the bulk of the selections in one meeting and then fine tune from there – either with or without the client. Some clients love to be involved in this process, while others prefer to leave it in our hands. We are happy to accommodate either choice – it is up to you! 

*Please note that the following selections are laid out for the purposes of a large scale renovation. These selections vary from project to project.


This is the big meeting where we make most of the large, hard finish decisions regarding your renovation project. They are broken down as follows, but this is by no means an exhaustive list of all the selections to be made:



2. Carpet

3. Floor tile

4. Luxury vinyl tile or plank

Wall tile

Shower wall/tub surround tile for each bathroom

There are many different decisions to be made regarding tile. Tile is no longer just about function – it can also be used as art! Some of the decisions that must be made are: main tile selection, accent tile, tile edge, niche, niche ledge, and grout. In addition to this product selection, we need to also decide on the layout (horizontal or vertical; stacked or offset) of each set of tile.

black and white marble and granite steam shower with in lay tile floors

Backsplash tile (bathrooms, kitchen)

Here we need to make the same decisions as listed above. Again, this is another area where we have many options. For example, we have created backsplashes with 7 different tiles to create a one-of-a-kind pattern. This also requires detailed and precise drawings to communicate layout and installation. 

Fireplace surround 

Tile, mantel, mantel surround, and layout all need to be chosen and the options are quite literally exhaustive. Depending on the style and look you are hoping to achieve, we will suggest different types of materials and layout to suite your needs.

Counter tops

There are many options for clients to choose from regarding countertop materials. For example: granite, quartzite, marble, manufactured quartz, porcelain, dekton, soap stone, butcher block, corian, laminate, laminam, tile etc. Each of these options have a multitude of colours, patterns, tones, etc. Decisions must also be made regarding edge profile, thickness, finish (honed or polished) and cutouts. We source countertops from local stone yards so we can see the material in person.

At this point we order loose samples so we can review the overall scheme and discuss details to be finalized on site. This is then all entered into a specification sheet and corresponding notes on the floor plan.  We will also create elevation drawings for the kitchen backsplash and bathroom tile details. If you’re not familiar with elevation drawings, check out our previous blog post Session 3: The Details of Drafting

Cabinet Selection

Another very important meeting is with a cabinet supplier. Sometimes this takes place before the other selections, depending on the project. Prior to this meeting, it’s best that you have your appliances selected so the cabinet maker can work with their sizing. Our clients typically do this step on their own with our appliance rep after an introduction email via our firm, but we’re happy to take on this task as well. In the cabinet selection meeting, we will need to make decisions on the following:

  1. Cabinet material

  2. Cabinet style (door profile and finish)

  3. Cabinet hardware (we want clients to feel it in their hand to make sure it is comfortable)

  4. Cabinet interior fittings/organization (consider how you want to store any small appliances you use regularly)

  5. Proposed layout including elevations (Door vs drawer, drawer height, pull out garbage/recycling, wine racks, open shelving, etc).

  6. Electrical and plumbing specifications for millwork areas

Other Selections

Once the above decisions are determined, we can move onto the last of the selections:

Lighting and Plumbing

Select all ceiling and wall light fixtures for task lighting vs esthetics; finalize proposed reflected ceiling plan based on selected light fixture. This can include flush mounts, recessed lighting, pendants, chandeliers and vanity fixtures. We always take into account lumen outputs (brightness), kelvins (colour temperature), and directional lighting. We will also select plumbing fixtures for all wet areas, including bath accessories such as towel bars and hooks.

mid mod bathroom with gold accents


We will go to an exterior material store or online to source and make decisions regarding the following:

  1. Brick or stone

  2. Stucco or hardie board

  3. Details of exterior elevation layouts

  4. Soffit, facia, eaves troughs, and locations

  5. House numbers

  6. Garage door

  7. Entry doors

  8. Window surrounds

  9. Shingles/metal/rubber roof

  10. Window details

Finishing Details:

  1. Baseboards

  2. Window and door casing

  3. Cold air returns 

  4. Heat registers

  5. Doors – profile, material, and hardware

  6. Paint

  7. Wall treatments – millwork, wallpaper, etc.

After we have made the selections for your project, your contractor then contacts his preferred trades to price it all out. Once we have the numbers back, we meet to review with you and your contractor and make any changes required.  It is also a good idea to have a rough budget in mind prior to starting the project (see “ Session 1: Planning your Renovation Before the Renovation Starts”)

How To Avoid Decision Fatigue

Reading this long list of decisions to be made, you can see why many clients choose to work with an interior designer to help them make these decisions. As industry experts, it is our job to know what is available and what will work within your budget, style, and other constraints you may have. Avoid decision fatigue and instead contact us to help you with finish selections.

Next week

Next week are are discussing one of the less enjoyable aspects of renovating that is a reality for many clients: Demolition and Asbestos Removal. This session will provide lots of information on making it through this process without too much stress.


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