Model Home Interiors
New homes don’t sell themselves, but Model Home Interiors offers builders a major advantage. For more than 30 years, the company has been working with homebuilders to provide complete interior design services for model homes. Drawing from decades of experience, the company has a proven ability to make new houses feel more like home by designing an interior space using color, texture, style and visual narratives that are welcoming and appealing to homebuyers.
Carl McWilliams, president of Model Home Interiors, has been with the business since 1983, when he started out as an accountant. With a degree in economics and a master’s degree from Loyola, McWilliams successfully promoted tight management that would lead to continued success for the business. When his colleagues bought out the business in 1986, he was promoted to vice president. In 1994, he stepped up to lead the company in his current role.
Model Home Interiors operates from two locations. The company’s Elkridge, Maryland, office serves the northern half of the East Coast and Midwest, while another in Durham, North Carolina, serves the south. The business employs 85 people, including sales, design and administration. Between both locations, McWilliams estimates his crew creates stunning interiors for approximately 350 model homes every year.
“The model homes we work on range from a sale price of $150,000 up to several million dollars,” McWilliams explains. “We have a lot of work coming in from the Mid-Atlantic region, as well as the Carolinas and Florida. We look at the demographics and target market for each project and have designers in-house who then design the interior to cater to our clients’ buyers.”
Over the years, McWilliams and his team have worked to build lasting relationships with regional and national homebuilders. “Some of the many builders are NV/Ryan, Drees, Lennar, K. Hovnanian and Winchester Homes,” he elaborates. “The builder provides us with the finished first home in the new neighborhood and we come in with a turnkey interior package, which includes all furnishings and window treatments targeted to their projected home buyers. These model homes are located in subdivisions and neighborhoods throughout the Midwest and all up and down the East Coast.”
A strong portfolio
With all of the company’s projects, Model Home Interiors remains acutely aware of design trends and the changing needs and wants of homebuyers. “Interiors are moving away from being so matchy-matchy,” McWilliams elaborates. “Homes that are eclectic are looking very fresh. We call this a well curated home, mixing classic old with colorful new, blending mid-century modern with vintage, restoration with California chic, and ultimately creating a comfortable yet polished look. Other trends include the rise of the first floor master or in-law suite. Larger kitchen islands have become the focus of the living area with living rooms becoming smaller or eliminated entirely. Mud rooms serve as an arrival center and we think of this area of the house as a drop zone.”
Recent projects include work for NV Homes at the developer’s Parkside development in Hanover, Maryland. McWilliams’ team recently completed the company’s Cornelius Vanderbilt Model. At 2,596 square feet, the model home features a cobalt blue and white colorway and an extended kitchen island. “This is a luxury townhome product with generous space and a bright, open floorplan,” McWilliams notes. “The interior merchandising is smart, bright and impactful.”
The company also worked on a home at the Lucaya Lake Club in Tampa, Florida, developed by Ryan Homes. Model Home Interiors provided interior design for the company’s Sawgrass Model. The 3,616-square-foot home features a British West Indies inspired exterior, with the indoors reflecting a cool, tropical vibe.
“We used a cobalt blue and lemon colorway for this model,” McWilliams explains. “The model features a two-story great room, a large kitchen island for entertaining and an optional lanai for outdoor living space.”
Another project took the Model Home Interiors crew to Centerville, Virginia, where the team worked on a model home for NV Homes’ Stuart’s Crossing. “This community is located within 45 minutes of Washington, D.C.,” McWilliams says. “The starting price point is $800,000 and the model we worked on sells for $1.2 million. This community embodies estate living on larger lots. Buyers here are move-ups with families, often children who are middle to high school aged. This project was well appointed in design style with a focus on high-end finishes and large scaled rooms that can be used for family gatherings and entertaining.”
McWilliams and his team are currently riding the improving building conditions wave throughout markets east of the Mississippi River. He notes that single family-housing starts are projected to rise by 26 percent in 2015 to 804,000 units nationwide, though that will still be around 60 percent lower than what are considered normal, pre-recession levels of more than 1.3 million starts per year.
“We have the excess capacity to easily handle current expected growth over the next two years,” he notes. “We have seen a big increase in model demand in the South Carolina and Florida region and plan to expand our services in that region over the next two years.”
As the market comes back around, McWilliams is confident in his team’s abilities. As the new home market improves, Model Home Interiors is prepared to grow with builders, providing consistent service, high design and quality interiors for model homes.
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