Dipt Tips From Pros: How to Save Time & Money During A Renovation


Part of our ongoing series “Dipt Tips from Pros”, This month, we spoke with Architect and Studio nForm principal, Sean Gold. “nForm is known for its layered, playful designs, so organization is really critical for the success of any project we work on. One simple rule that keeps me sane when designing– Design In Scale”.


When taking on any type of renovation, begin the project by planning for the macro elements first, then move towards the micro decisions later. Its important that all elements in a renovation are considered before hammers start swinging, so imagine the design process as a linear sequence of one informed decision that leads into others–You’ll save both time and money… Heres some insight into how we design for our projects at nForm.

Macro Design = Function Over Form

So whats the difference between the Macro elements and the Micro design decisions? The key questions at the macro level are the ones that really impact the overall layout of your bathroom or kitchen. At this initial stage of the project try to focus on how the room functions rather than how it looks.

Here are some macro-type questions to consider in the initial planning phase of the project:

  1. What do you want to have that isn't already there, for example, are you adding any new bathroom fixtures, like a sink or toilet? It usually sounds something like… “My partner and I are tired of fighting over the sink in the morning. We need more space!” Perhaps adding a second sink for more room (and less elbows) is what you really need to do… :)

  2. Do you want a walk-in shower or a built-in tub that also doubles as a shower? Any tub can be renovated to become a walk-in shower, but going from shower-to-tub is a bit more tricky; it requires more space and a lot more plumbing work. Adding new fixtures will always impact how the existing features are used– Especially in small spaces like a bathroom!

  3. Maybe you've always dreamt of having your sink on a big island in your new kitchen… A sink with a view into a room can really make an impact on how your kitchen-space is experienced! We always consult a licensed plumber or GC if there is any kind of plumbing work like this in the scope. A contractor may want to come take a look at your space to check and see if something like this is even possible– Find a contractor that will give you a free consultation. It can save you lots of time down the road!

No matter what the end goal is in your space – now is the time to plan for it! Something I always tell my clients is “comprehensive planning yields cohesive design”. Making a drawing or a plan showing the layout of a bathroom can be tricky for anyone. So instead of drawing out a plan, try making a list of what you want or showing what you want to experience through similar projects. Being able to communicate about what you want and where its located is whats important. If you're able to collect some photos showing a similar bathroom or kitchen design, thats great. These will come in handy when you start meeting with contractors. In our office, once we’ve decided on how a space will function, then start designing the space with new materials and fixtures. 

Your general contractor needs to know these basics for two reasons; Some plumbing work may require a permit from the city or state, and you may need to have a licensed architect or engineer sign off on the application. Second, if you're living in an apartment, you're building management may need to approve the work and coordinate that work with the buildings own service team. This can sometimes take several weeks and you may want to get more than just one opinion on your design plans.

Micro Design Scale – Choosing everything from Tile to the Toilet Paper Holder 

How do I know that I’m ready to start micro-designing? Once you have a solid plan in place for the different components and where you'd like for them to be located, now you can start perusing the internet for fixture and finish inspiration! There are so many different types of sinks and specialty faucets or showers out there today– before you know it it’s 3am and your down a rabbit hole looking at a shower head that actually looks like a storm cloud… Yes its real

Ferguson Showroom in Vista, CA

Ferguson Showroom in Vista, CA

You'll soon discover there is an unbelievable amount of brands for plumbing fixtures, tiles, and everything in between. The best thing you can do is try to understand the difference between the items your looking at. If its something really different from what you're used to,make a plan to see these in-person… Visit a showroom and get some help with what you've found. Most items can be seen in a brick and mortar store, and depending on your city you may be able to visit a stone, tile, plumbing, or specialty showroom in person! At nForm, one of our plumbing go-to showrooms is the Ferguson Plumbing Showroom in Brooklyn– you can locate one near you and request an appointment here.

How do I even start designing a space? I love being inspired from images and photos I find on Pinterest or Online. Its one of the best ways to discover what you like–and what you want to avoid! Its easy to become overwhelmed by the amount of designs and styles that you can find online…

So when I start looking for inspiration I keep these three rules in mind:

  1. Stay organized- Save the photos into a folder and try to add some information in the file name reminding you of why you saved the image in the first place. Something like “love this faucet type and the floor tile”, or “master bathroom shower niche MUST HAVE”… this will really come in handy when you start putting it all together!

  2. Find out what materials or fixture we’re used in those images– Feel free to email Dipt at hello@SampleDipt.com your photo and we’ll try to find out what material it is you're loving.

  3. Use a Dipt renovation spreadsheet template to never miss a step! Free Download Here! For every project I start with my Dipt reference sheet. It outlines every fixture, finish or material I will need in each kind of space. It keeps me on track and allows me to focused on what I really need.


Once you feel like you have some great images and inspiration to work from, now start putting the bathroom together. You can use Sample Dipt to request material samples from your inspiration images, contact local showrooms or go to Home Depot and take photos of what you like. Try to choose everything and fill out the Dipt spreadsheet first before buying– in doing so you can make sure that you like all the elements together.

Whatever stage your in and when you feel lost try to stay motivated! Its a tough job to do. At dipt we’re working hard to help you design smarter. If you need some advice or want to find out more information please reach out to Dipt, email us at Hello@sampledipt.com. We’re driven to reinvent the way people are renovating and we have some BIG plans for this year– Check out this video of what Dipt will launching this Fall…

We really value our customer feedback, so feel free to drop us a line at Hello@sampledipt.com. Thank you for being a part of our community!

J Sean Gold