Designing With Joy: Building a Perfect Personalized Plan

Each issue we’ll share recommendations for building your dream home, adding ease to the process, and making choices that will create lasting value.

Each issue we’ll share recommendations for building your dream home, adding ease to the process, and making choices that will create lasting value. Plus, you’ll get insider access to the Dutch’s one-of-a-kind design touches and unique ideas planned to wow clients and guests alike.

If you own a home, chances are you may do the same thing I am right now — build a new one. In fact, 15% of homeowners build or buy when their lifestyle changes, according to the US Census Bureau. We’re talking anything from adding family members or working from home, to downsizing or retiring.

My decision to build came when it was apparent my starter home, with its unfinished basement wasn’t set up correctly for me and my growing business. I’d considered adding on the correct space I needed — not just for
my business but for me and London, my tiny cuddly bullmastiff puppy who’d grown into a large lovable dog. But a realtor compared surrounding home prices and it became apparent that selling the house and funding a
new one was my best investment.

Building The Dutch has been a lifelong dream come true (we’re talking a 7-year old girl rearranging her bedroom furniture each month, and constantly daydreaming of her “someday” home)! Sharing the journey with you allows me showcase new ideas, techniques and designs not typically found in our area. Working with talented local professionals, artisans, craftsmen and women, I facilitate access to top advice on building and remodeling choices, ways to use your dollar to the max of its potential, and how to confidently make selections that will invigorate the home today and into the future. In this article, join me as I take you on the journey of how to create the perfect, personalized home plans (this works for a remodel too). Enjoy.


Before meeting with the professionals to plan your next home, it’s important to get clear about what you will and won’t need in your new space. Chances are your priorities have changed. How do you see them continuing to change in the coming years? Also, what is your situation when it comes to entertaining areas, outdoor living spaces, storage areas or parking?


List what’s most important to you in your next home — not just for today, but in the future. Do you want to create a kitchen with a larger island instead of a formal dining room? Or maybe a theatre room instead of a formal living room? Has the temporary option to work remotely become permanent? By getting really clear the functionality you need in a new home and location, deciding on things such as a neighborhood, privacy needs or parking for overnight guests gets much easier. In planning The Dutch, I knew I wanted a kitchen with a nice-sized island for cooking, a butler pantry to be home to serving ware, extra dish ware and I did want a dedicated dining room as I love to host large gatherings. These were all items on my list — just to name a few.

My advice for building the home of your dreams? Get clear on how you’ll truly use the space. List the three rooms in your home you use most, and the most important features you want. Focus your planning on the finishes and features of those prioritized spaces. Then work with your builder to value engineer the surfaces, finishes and other details for the less used spaces and rarely seen rooms to save money and time.

Chris Schuler, Century Builders


When it comes to organizing, I trust the pros, Laura Wolf, Lyndsey Anderson and Jordan Manthei with d.clutter. They believe a home is a living space, not a storage space and I loved that! Trained and KonMarie certified by Japanese organizational guru Marie Kondo, Laura makes moving from one home to the next, a refreshingly simple process. Here’s advice from the d.clutter team to help determine how much you’ll be bringing with you to your new home which in return determines the amount and type of space you’ll need — think cabinetry, built-ins, clear
doors for displaying cherished items and more!

  1. PREP
    Envision the lifestyle you want, and what
    you see in it.
  1. PURGE
    Edit with your new lifestyle in mind.
    Decide what stays, goes or gets recycled.
    Let go of anything you’re keeping out of:
  • Guilt (clothes you may fit in to again someday)
  • Fear (things you haven’t used, but may need sometime in the future
  • Obligation (heirlooms or inherited items you may not even like)
  • Shame (items from old or bad relationships you may not feel good about)

On the fence about an item? If you can buy it for under $20, in under 20 minutes, you don’t need to pack it or move it.

  1. PACK
    Only bring joyful, beautiful or practical things that support your dream lifestyle in your new space.

Two ways you can bring calm to your home are to keep flat surfaces clean, and to use closed cabinets in lieu of open shelves. Clutter attracts more clutter. And open shelving can create mental clutter when items are always in view.

Laura Wolf, d.clutter


After going through the planning, packing and building design process, I had a clear vision of what I wanted for the storage and cabinets in The Dutch This is important as these are core pieces to the home that dictate layout and are permanent pieces that you’ll work around when designing the rest of your home.

For me, it was important that none of the woodwork, cabinets or millwork felt like cookie-cutter pieces. I wanted pieces that were unique to the home and had artistic intention. Luckily, I knew just the talented team to make that happen – Wendt Custom Cabinets in Moorhead, Minnesota.

Christen pushed our craftsmen out of their comfort zone to produce cabinetry that is a mix of modern traditional and historic — which we weren’t even sure was possible, but she pulled it off. You get the feeling The Dutch has been there forever. Its cabinetry, countertops, moulding and built-ins wrap around her collections of art and textiles.

Kaeli Bernier, Wendt Cabinets

I wanted linen closets, built-ins and mudroom furniture-like pieces with well-worn character found in historic Cape Cod homes that inspired The Dutch’s home plan I’d developed with architect Jackson Strom. And working with Wendt Cabinets, I found the craftsmen touches to fit perfectly with the Dutch Colonial exterior style. Because I knew exactly what I was bringing to The Dutch, from the types of items I would store away to things I would display, they helped me craft my perfect personalized plan with permanent solutions to fit all of my belongings.


Wendt’s family has seen trends come and go since entering the custom cabinet business in 1969.

Right now, they are seeing more requests for stained wood cabinets such as Oak and Walnut. Bead board and panel insets are popular, along with painted cabinets in hues of white and green. Brass hardware is big in champagne and bright polished brass.

However, personal expression is what keeps business busy.

The Dutch is full of crown moulding, cabinets and countertops in detailed styles we’ve not done before — which is why it’s amazing to work with Christen! She added feet at the bottom of the cabinets. The island posts are extra detailed, there are glass door interests and grids, plus extra side panels to finish them as if they were furniture pieces. Those extra touches make each piece a work of art.

Kaeli Bernier, Wendt Cabinets


The plans for your dream home truly start by dreaming. Think about your priorities today and what functionality you will need to support them. Next, list the features you want — one level living or a backyard pool? You decide.
Finally, make an honest assessment of how much space you’ll need by editing your stuff. By drafting a plan based on what you know, you can personalize it and make the finishes, flow and functionality of the space fit you to a tee. From there you’re ready to build your personalized plans and start on your selections and that’s exactly what we’ll share next time on
The Dutch. Cheers!

Meet Christen Anderson of Christen Joy: Inspired Interiors & Events
Anderson is a Minnesota native with an eye for decor and design. Christen Joy specializes in new-construction commercial projects, exceptional remodels, furnishing high-end living spaces and creating memorable special events. Anderson is also a passionate art collector, world traveler and home cook who frequently entertains for friends.

Join me on Instagram and Facebook to see my latest projects and email me at [email protected] for design inquires.


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