My wife and I just bought a house. We're first-time home buyers, so our experience with remodeling or home projects is exactly zilch. We have an idea for something we'd like to do, and honestly I'm finding that just figuring out where to start seems a bit intimidating.
I've attached a picture showing a very basic outline of what we want to do. We want to get rid of the current marble/painted-metal fireplace surround and use tile instead. Outside of that, to the left and right, we want some custom shelving made. At the top, either where the marble surround ends or slightly above, we'll have some sort of mantle. Above that we'll be mounting our television (only place in the room it could logically go). We'll probably want to get rid of the wall plates to the left of the fireplace and move some power and a hole (that will lead to another hole behind the TV for fishing wires) to the right side, since our TV electronics will probably go on those shelves. Also, there are a few places around the house that we would like to install recessed lighting.
So that's it, and I'm not sure where to begin. We only have a basic idea, so the project needs to be designed, and I don't know if we should hire a designer/architect (it's such a small project). I read that you should have a design first before getting contractor bids so that they're all bidding on the same thing instead of bidding on their own designs. That being said, does this even require a contractor? Could I get it designed, then hire a carpenter and an electrician?
Anyway, any help and/or advice would be greatly appreciated. Taking these first steps are always the most difficult!