Where Do I Start When Renovating or Redecorating My Home?
Keen to get going on a project but not sure where to begin? Read this practical guide to getting started
The biggest obstacle can often be simply knowing where to begin. If this is the case, it’s time to step back, gather your thoughts and apply a little objectivity to the process. Whether you’re planning a whole-house makeover or a fundamental reorganisation, here are some ideas for how to go about creating a home that meets your needs in the best possible way.
Where major work isn’t required but the whole house needs a facelift, work systematically through each room to establish the extent of the work and outlay required. Start in the hall – it typically needs more thought than you might imagine – and work logically from there.
Think methodically about each room in terms of floor, walls, ceiling, lighting and furnishings. Prepare a list both of items to be purchased and building or decorative work to be done. You’re aiming to create a priced inventory of all the work to be done and items to be bought.
You may find it useful to create a shopping list – with relevant dimensions – on your phone for handy reference on the go.
If significant alterations or even an extension are envisaged, take time at the outset to reflect on what’s propelling you to undertake the work in the first place.
Think specifically about what your issues are in terms of space, light and storage. Exploiting each of these elements to their fullest is key to achieving a home that fits your needs like a glove. Whatever your space and budget, there’s an optimal solution for each part of this home-design trinity.
Bear in mind also the present and future life stages of the household – from toddlers to schoolchildren to young adults – and how your home will need to respond to each.
Find architects, interior designers and builders in your area on Houzz.
Where your issues relate to use of space, start by preparing an inventory of the rooms you have now and how they’re used. Next, itemise the spaces you’d like to have and the uses you need to accommodate. Imagine you’re writing the brief for your ideal home.
Comparing these lists should identify any ‘gaps’ that need to be filled. The challenge then is to see if your existing home can be rethought to meet those needs.
For example, could the extra living room you’d like be accommodated in a first floor room? Or in a loft? Could the guest bedroom double as a home office? Be broad in your thinking to achieve best use of your resources, both spatial and financial.
If you feel you need more space, first check that the rooms you already have are working sufficiently hard before reaching to extend.
Perhaps you even have an unused room. Could it be reinvented and put to work in a different way? Is it actually a ‘problem’ room (see below) with issues of light, warmth or arrangement that need to be solved before it can be put to any use?
Could the dividing walls between the rooms at the back of your house be removed to create that coveted kitchen/dining/family room?
If you do decide to extend, make sure the existing house and extension flow and that, between both areas, your needs in terms of space and storage are fully met.
More: How to Create More Useable Space Without Extending or Converting
If light is your main concern, a light-filled extension might seem a tempting vision, but bear in mind that such an extension may reduce light in your existing spaces.
Large windows to even the tiniest of external spaces can transform the light levels in any room. So too can rooflights, always a powerful source of light.
Where space and planning controls permit, a garden room, like the one in this photo, can expand your space without impinging on the quality of light in the main house. Depending on the orientation of your home, the garden room may even enjoy better sunlight than the main rooms.
Your aim throughout the house should be to achieve storage that’s both convenient and appropriate to what’s being stored.
You may despair of your existing storage, but before ripping it out and starting again, ask yourself: could it work harder?
In the kitchen, for example, rearranging the contents of existing drawers and adding additional cupboard shelves can free up valuable space. This thinking can be applied to wardrobes, linen cupboards and all other special storage areas around the house. Your main outlay here will be time, not money.
More: How to Sneakily Pack More Storage Into Your Flat
If there’s a room in your home that’s shunned and avoided, you may well have a ‘problem room’.
However, there’s always a reason why a room’s not used. It may, for example, be physically or acoustically cold, uninviting in its furniture arrangement, or just dark and gloomy.
Set about finding out what it is that doesn’t work in your problem room, explore possible solutions, and get costings for the work involved. Could you take down a wall, as in this inviting, open-plan space? Even moving a door or a radiator can transform a room – and for a fraction of the cost of an extension.
Tackle issues of watertightness, plumbing, electrics and thermal insulation. You won’t see visual benefits, but a warm, snug home is a springboard to greater things.
There’s no end of advice available when undertaking work on your home. Everyone around you will have an opinion and you’ll find a huge volume of inspiration from a variety of sources.
The downside is that, amid all this, you risk becoming addled and even paralysed, unable to figure out what it is you need to do and how to do it.
If you do find you’re out of your depth, seek expert, paid guidance. A good professional will advise you on how best to spend the money you have and help you to avoid costly mistakes. The earlier you involve a professional in your project – even if it’s just for a one-off consultation – the better.
Whatever scale of work you take on, resolve to stay focused to the very end. Building work tends to be a long and tiring process and you may be tempted along the way to delegate minor – or even major – decisions to outside parties.
Those decisions you delegate may haunt you. Remember your aim is to create a home that fits like a glove.
What tips do you have from your experience of renovating? Share them in the Comments.