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Project makeover: Where to Start on Your Home Improvement

Undertaking renovation work to your home can be a daunting prospect. Your mind spinning with ideas, or you may be bamboozled with advice from family and friends. You may be grappling with big questions, such as: should we stay, or should we move? Should we extend or simply tweak the space we already have?

The biggest obstacle can often be simply knowing where to begin. If this is the case, it is time to step back, gather your thoughts and apply a little objectivity to the process. Whether you are planning a whole-house makeover or a fundamental reorganisation, here are a few clever ideas to go about creating a home that meets your needs the best possible way.

Plan a methodical makeover

Where major work is not 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 of both items to be purchased and building or decorative work to be done. You are aiming to create a price inventory of all the work to be done and items to be purchased. You may find it useful to create a shopping list – with relevant dimensions – for handy on the go preference.

Start with issues, not solutions

If significant alterations or even an extension are envisaged, take time at the outset to reflect on what is driving you to undertake the work in the first place.

Think specifically of 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 is an optimal solution for each part of this home-design trinity.

Bear in mind, 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 challenge.

Compare what you have with what you want

Where your issues relate to use of space, start by preparing an inventory of the rooms you have now and how they are used. Next, itemise the spaces you would like to have and the uses you need to accommodate. Imagine you are writing the brief for your ideal home.

Comparing both lists should identify any ‘gaps’ that need to be filled. The challenge then is to see if you are existing home can be rethought to meet those needs.

Maximise your existing space

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 a ‘problem’ room 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 / ding / family room?

Boost natural light

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 skylights, always a powerful source of light.

Manage your storage

Your aim throughout the house should be to achieve storage that is both convenient and appropriate to what is being stored.

You may despair at 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.

Turn a ‘problem room’ into a successful one

If there is a room in your home that is shunned and avoided, you may well have a ‘problem room’.

However, there is always a reason why a room is not used. It may, for example, be physically or acoustically cold, uninviting in its furniture arrangement of just dark and gloomy.

Set about finding out what it is that does not 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 wall can transform a room – and for a fraction of the cost of an extension.

Prioritise the fundamentals

Tackle issues of waterproofing, plumbing, electrics, and thermal insulation in the first instance.

You will not see visual benefits, but a warm, snug home is a springboard to greater things.

Seek professional advice

There is no end of advice available when undertaking work on your own home. Everyone around you will have an opinion and you will find a huge volume of inspiration from a variety of sources.

The downside is that, amid all this, you risk becoming confused and even paralysed, unable to figure out what it is you need to do and how to do it.

If you do find you are 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 the better.

Stay focused

Whatever scale of work you take on, resolve to stay focused to the very end. Remember your aim is to create a home that fits you and your needs now and into the future, like a glove.

Refresh Interiors is a boutique refurbishment and project management company that delivers tailored solutions based on our client needs, budget and style - contemporary, heritage or minimalist.

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