Behind the Scenes: Custom Home Design

Today we’re here talking ALL things custom-designed homes! Building a dream home from the ground up is an incredible process, and we are so fortunate to get to be part of this journey with our clients. For some, it’s about that perfect space they’ve been dreaming about for years, and for others, it’s about having a beautiful house that fits every need, created just for them. Truthfully, there’s so much to be done before one shovel ever hits the ground, and that’s where we come in!   You’ve no doubt caught a few of our behind-the-scenes from some of the gorgeous custom homes we’ve got in progress right now, and today we’ll be taking you along for a close-up of the CFD process.  

Chapel Hill Interior Designer


Design, Right on Time

So much of the custom home design process comes down to timing. Specifically, when is the right moment to get your favorite curly-haired designer and her crew involved? The answer is: right from the start. When creating a home from the ground up that is truly unique and fully customized, a key aspect of the process is starting the relationship early. One of the most valuable services we are able to provide during the initial stages is a full architectural review. This is a strategic, micro-level assessment of every detail of the proposed architectural drawings for their to-be home. Some clients come in with plans in hand, and some come to us first and we connect them with an architect to help develop their plan set. Either way, this is a key component of our process. We can take a microscope to every inch of those plans, and evaluate for any adjustments, changes, or additions that are needed to ensure that what’s on paper is going to match a client’s vision and desired final outcome. Want a gorgeous floor-to-ceiling fireplace? The perfect space between windows for your king-sized headboard? A zero-entry shower and a gorgeous soaker tub in the bathroom? The appropriate supports, alignment, and design details matter- because these are things that often can’t be made possible after the fact. As a team, we work closely with a client and their architect to get the plan as close to pitch-perfect as possible before the first stud goes up. 

Chapel Hill Interior Designer

Full-Service Design (CFD Style)

Once the plan is complete, the work doesn’t stop there. Throughout the construction process, our team often wears that all-encompassing project manager hat. We communicate constantly with the custom builder and get on-site regularly to talk through and resolve questions, monitor progress, and assess details. It truly takes a village of skilled professionals to bring a dream to life- and we are all about that Teamwork Makes the Dreamwork. We also begin the process of selections- starting with the big elements like flooring, windows, cabinetry, and surfaces- and then moving right along to details like trim, color palette, and fixtures.    

Chapel Hill Interior Designer

Seen here with her BFF the tape measure- making that (punch) list and checking it twice 😉

Fair Trades

And speaking of design elements and details, let’s talk trades. Creating a custom home is a tremendous collaboration (as it should be!). A true custom home takes intensive planning, focus, and time investment. And for us, making the dream a reality for each client means sourcing and recruiting talent in all areas- not just the builder, but the individual trades such as stone and tile work, painting, trim carpentry, and woodwork. One of our favorite parts of our job over the years has been building relationships with local tradespeople who do incredible, beautiful work, and highlighting them in our designs. 

Chapel Hill Interior Designer Custom Home Design
This incredible ceiling-height fireplace was a custom creation and huge collaboration of our unique design, the custom builder, and our select vendor to get the exact right pieces for the surround and surfacing (we can’t wait to show you this one finished, y’all!)


The Art of Collaboration

Another recent example of collaboration coming to life is this snapshot we caught at one of our in-progress custom homes. This beautiful barrel-ceiling design came straight from the very talented CFD team member Scott Yount (check out more about him here!). Scott tapped into his decades of engineering experience to create this design from scratch using CAD, ensuring that the appropriate logistics and supports would be in place to make this a reality – easier said than done when we’re talking about keeping a huge ceiling feature in place safely and beautifully! When it comes to true custom features, there is a depth of legwork and technical detail that goes on behind-the-scenes long before your eye ever touches that finished product.  He worked closely with the custom builder, including on-site communication and real-time support as it was going up in the home. This dedicated collaboration and support is how we create a truly custom experience for our clients. The time investment of months (and sometimes years) and rigorous attention to detail on our end is completely worth it when we get to see our clients experience the final product in real life. 

Chapel Hill Interior Designer Custom Home DesignIn-progress scene of this custom-designed barrel ceiling for a client’s master-bedroom retreat

Beautifully executed with full framing in place!

Our Big Picture

For us, custom home design is about intense creativity, collaboration, and vision. But equally,  it’s about guiding our clients through the process of making their dream home a reality. We are constantly, endlessly working behind the scenes to make sure that each detail falls into place so that when the big reveal is finally here and move-in day arrives, that space will be every part the forever home it was meant to be. We always say that great design lives in the details, and the best place to start is the very beginning. Being part of a client’s custom home journey from beginning to end inspires us like no other, and has brought us so many lasting relationships with clients we love.   

Chapel Hill Interior Designer custom home design


Thank you for following along with us on the blog today- we love sharing our work with our amazing CFD community. If you’d like to see more from some of our finished projects, head over to our Portfolio Page.  Have a design dream of your own? We’re here to help. Reach out to us anytime at  For more of the happenings and studio moments of this busy team, check out our Facebook Page or follow us on instagram @catfrenchdesign.