7 Tips to Achieving Your Dream Home (No Matter the Size), According to Studio McGee

updated Oct 16, 2020
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Dream home makeover tips
Credit: Netflix

In a world where tiny homes are popular and minimalism is in (and might not ever go away), what you thought was your dream home as a kid—probably some sort of TV mansion—might be drastically different than what it is now. It’s not necessarily about the dimensions, but more about the feeling it provokes—and Syd and Shea McGee are proving that no matter the size or budget, your dream home is entirely achievable.

The founders of Studio McGee are the latest to join the Netflix family with the launch of “Dream Home Makeover,” a show that’s all about helping others figure out and execute—you guessed it—their dream home. Throughout the series, the spaces they transform come in all different shapes and sizes, which is a testimony to the idea that anyone can get their dream home if they have the right plan in action.

We talked with the McGees on how anyone, regardless of square footage or financial situation, can figure out how to make their fantasy home no longer a fantasy. Check out their tips below, and get ready for a little day dreaming.

Credit: Netflix

1. Make sure to address functionality, not just style. 

When starting to plan out your dream home, don’t just focus on aesthetics—think about how it’s going to function for you. “I always like to start with the question of, how does this space need to work with you? What’s not working right now, and what is your ideal functionality for this space?” the McGees told Apartment Therapy. “Once we start there, we make a plan and get it to actually work, because if it looks good but it doesn’t work for the client, then it doesn’t matter if it looks pretty.”

So if, for example, you and your housemate both love to cook, design your kitchen with two preparation stations so you can both take part in making dinner. Or if you work from home and have children, make a spacious office area with a functional corner for the kiddos that also looks stylish for when they aren’t there.

Credit: Netflix

2. Try to keep the main design elements classic.

We love a good design moment, but trends aren’t forever. The McGees suggest that when it comes to larger pieces of furniture, try to keep things timeless so you don’t risk wanting to replace an expensive item in the near future.

In their first home, for example, the McGees kept the style in the kitchen very classic: white shaker cabinetry, farmhouse sink, marble countertops. And even when they moved into a new home, they carried over some of those same elements because they proved to stand the test of time.

Credit: Netflix

3. Buy the trendy items that can easily be swapped out.

Even though the McGees suggest keeping major design parts classic, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t incorporate whatever trend you’re loving right now into your dream home—just consider the possibility that you’re going to want to replace it and plan accordingly. “I always like to make my trendy items things that are easily swapped out,“ the McGees said. “f you grow tired of your lights, you can swap out your light fixtures. One thing that I love about design is that it’s a very organic process, and you’re not stuck—you can change.”

Credit: Netflix

4. Let Pinterest help you discover your dream color palette. 

When it comes to choosing a color palette, the McGees take a look at their clients’ favorite photos of various spaces and go from there. “Are they always showing me gray? Are they always showing me green and blue? I want to see some common threads,” the McGees explained. “I think that’s really important when you’re designing for yourself, too. Pick apart images you’ve saved for a long time to see what’s always been there.”

An easy way to start saving images you love is by utilizing Pinterest. Over time, you can save photos of rooms that catch your attention, and eventually take a step back to look at overarching themes.

Credit: Netflix

5. Then create a mood board.

But there is such thing as inspiration overload, when you save too many photos and can’t figure out a larger common thread when scrolling through them. It that case, it’s time to edit and create a dedicated mood board.

The McGees suggest narrowing photos down to three to five images, then pick your desired colors and materials for a space. From there, go to town on creating that focused look with a mood board. “Whether it’s in Photoshop, a Powerpoint deck, or actually printing out the images and pinning them on a pin board…whatever it is, I try to do it so I can see how I want my space to feel. It makes it easier when you narrow your focus.”

Credit: Netflix

6. Focus on one room at a time.

A common mistake the McGees see clients make is spreading themselves too thin by trying to get multiple rooms done at once. “They’ll get one thing for this room, one thing for another room, one thing for this room, and then it never comes together because they’re just spreading everything out,” they explained.

By focusing on one room at a time and getting it to dream home status, you can happily check it off your list and move on to the next room. Plus, by keeping the other rooms unfinished, it will be visually apparent that progress needs to be made—not tricking your mind into thinking one added item means you can put it off.

Credit: Netflix

7. Let your idea of a “dream house” change. 

While you may have a perception of what you think your dream house is, like mentioned before, that idea can changed based on how your life changes. Instead of holding onto what you used to want, the McGees suggest embracing the idea that your style and what you need your space to do will change over time.

For example, Syd and Shea’s current vision of a dream home is one that looks good but also is safe for their young kids to play in. However, once their children are older, they might shift their priorities onto something else. “Balancing form and function and knowing how you’ll use your spaces—for me, that’s what makes a dream home,” the McGees said. “Fully utilizing the spaces that you have and all the while, looking very pretty.”

Now that you’ve gotten your McGee approved orders, go forth and start planning your dream home. And if you need a bit more direction, time to head to Netflix.