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Journal Entries

Building our new home: from finding the location, creating the design, choosing the builder, to the building process. This journal chronicles our process, from end to end.

A Designer Worth His Weight in Resale Gold


We felt strongly about using the latest LED lighting technology wherever practical. LED uses a fraction of the energy of even CFL bulbs, can be installed in existing recessed cans, applied in strips, incorporated into creative new fixture designs, will almost never burn out, and produces almost no heat. Initial cost is higher, but payback in energy savings is fast.


But, the world of LED lighting is quickly evolving with new features and falling prices occurring virtually daily. Merri and I have an appreciation for great lighting—both daylight and artificial. Yet, with all this rapid change, we felt we needed outside expertise on design and making smart fixture choices.

So, through a Google search, I found Doug Stratton, of Stratton Design. I checked him out on (which is a tremendous idea resource in itself), and read several, um, glowing reviews of Doug's design capabilities. On a Saturday afternoon, Oct. 24, I sent an inquiry through Doug's Web site. Later that same day, he replied, and we’ve been feverishly communicating about our project ever since.

We learned that Doug and his family have lived in Asheville for 19 years, and that his previous career in the movie industry in California helped inform his expertise in not only lighting, but building and space design.

I sent him our floor plans to evaluate, and within a day, ideas were flowing freely, and within a couple of weeks, he had transformed what was a good, workable floor plan into an outstanding, eye-popping one. Through phone calls and emails, we bounced ideas back and forth. Tweaks here and there, realigning walls and windows, reallocating master bedroom/bathroom space, rethinking the kitchen, adding tasty bulkhead details to the entrances of a couple of rooms, just lifted our plan to another level of refinement. In Doug's mind, lighting and space design work hand in hand. Space use and traffic flow are improved, while we actually decreased the total home size by about 40 square feet.

Doug is now preparing a lighting/electrical plan, along with a few elevations of the bathroom vanity wall, the fireplace wall, and others that will leave chance out of the construction of key focal points in the home.

There's no question that Doug’s fees will come back many times over at resale because of the “wow” factor he’s brought to our home’s design. Meanwhile, we'll enjoy the fruits of his expertise for years to come.