NC Design Studios lays the framework for your dream home

Chelsea: Nic, it’s easy peasy to build a dream home, right? We close our eyes, we sketch it out in our mind’s eye—white farm house, wraparound porch, yellow door, horse fencing in the background that fades into a grandiose view of steep mountains. I’ve got it done, right? Well, maybe it’s a start!

Nic: Absolutely, just plant a magical seed and wait for the house to grow! Actually, conveniently, many people looking to build a dream home tend to come with a binder full of ideas and design goals, which is important. I call their vision “The Program.” Does the customer want four bedrooms, three baths, a guest room with its own bathroom? Really, though, our best projects are the ones that the customer just tells us to “make it cool.” Sort of like, “Here’s the Program, now do what you think best fits the site.” This is fun as it gives us creative license to do some genuinely cool things with their home.


Chelsea: What are five things to have in mind when thinking about having your dream home built? 

Nic: Okay, so, five things, the first thing is the view: what do and don’t you want to see from your home. The second is how does the house fit into the surrounding landscape? We prefer to “shoulder” the houses into the landscapes, meaning that we make them wider rather than taller, which touches on the third thing: how many levels do you want? Likewise, the fourth thing: how does the interior engage the exterior? For example, do you want easy access to the outdoor patio from the living room? Of course, all of the above depends on one of the most important things to keep in mind: budget, which we help navigate.


Chelsea: Now that we have our ducks in a row, what are some outliers that people may not consider when wanting to build their dream home? Can we warn them or educate them in advance on anything?

Nic: Part of our job is to prevent people from making a mistake in their design decisions, and part of that involves showing a visual model of their dream home before moving forward. When it comes to building the house, we help find the contractors, but in general it’s smart for buyers to research contractors before hiring one.


Chelsea: I assume this is most always a forever-home situation, but let’s say we’re building a dream home to sell. Any factors to take into consideration when building? Perhaps different materials, appliances, features? In other words, what are some good investments for home-building?

Nic: Beauty sells. If you’re building a house looking to sell, a beautiful house will sell a lot easier than an ugly house. The factors involved in “beauty” here are many, namely having a simply good architectural design that fits the neighborhood, meshing with the local, natural environment, having natural lighting, supporting a modern lifestyle. And in addition to beauty, healthy homes are important, meaning homes that are energy efficient.


Chelsea: This is more of a self-indulgent question but I want to know—what’s your favorite thing about building in the Missoula or surrounding areas? Why Western Montana?

Nic: In Montana, we have the freedom to create sculptures in the landscape—be it on the shores of Flathead Lake or down the Bitterroot, or even in town up the Rattlesnake. Good attitude, generous, happy people—we seem to attract these types of people, and I don’t know what to think of that other than to say, maybe that’s just Missoula.