10 tips to keep in mind if you are planning to renovate your home
If you've just made the jump onto the property ladder and purchased your first home, chances are it might need a bit of work done to it.
House prices are on the rise again so the amount of properties that are being bought these days with the intention of doing them up is greater than the amount of new builds being bought. It's all down to what people can afford and how much of a mortgage they can get.
So, with that in mind, we reached out to Architect and Interior Designer Courtney McDonnell to see what advice she would give to people considering or actively renovating their home. Her Dublin based studio is a design practice providing Architecture and Interior Design services in both residential and commercial environments.
Here are Courtney's top 10 tips for renovating:
Is Extending Necessary?
If your budget is tight, consider reconfiguring the space within the existing house before you decide on a big garden extension. You may not actually need to extend at all. Open up any pokey rooms to create one large open plan living space. Creating a feeling of extra space is very achievable with some minor and budget-friendly alterations. Taking down internal walls creates an open plan flow and allows a darker room to borrow light from a brighter space. Replacing a small window with full height glazing will allow a greater relationship with the outdoors, maximise natural light as well as creating the feeling of more space.
Appoint An Architect
Here comes the shameless plug for the architecture industry... I have no shame in mentioning it because it is the truth. I cannot stress enough the importance of hiring an architect from the beginning. To many, this seems like an additional cost that can be avoided. People who try to cut corners always end up paying twice, both with their time and their money.
Involving an architect early on in a project can actually save you money. They will offer you a range of options and discuss with you the most economic and appropriate design for your requirements. They will also push the boundaries and create something unique and special that stands out from the other properties in your area, thus increasing the value of your home overall.
Research Neighbouring Properties
Many people are not aware of the online planning permission platform available with most local councils. Any potential renovators can search their local area and view planning applications for neighbouring properties to gauge a better idea of what has been granted or refused permission in the past. This tip should be a minimum standard of due diligence for potential buyers before committing to a purchase.
Discuss Your Proposal With Neighbours
Before submitting a planning application, I would always recommend meeting your neighbours to take them through the proposal. Bring along your architect too as they may have questions that you may not be able to answer. Not only will you explain the scheme to them more efficiently than if they viewed the plans alone but they will appreciate you taking the time to fill them in before they read about in the paper.
Manage Your Budget Accordingly
Does your budget reflect the extent of renovation works needed? Consider doing the renovation in a number of phases, each phase being prioritized on what is required immediately. Is an extra bedroom an urgent requirement, or can this wait so you can focus on the main living areas of the house. Figuring out your requirements and what you can’t live without will help shape your decision-making process from the beginning. If your budget is very tight, consider elements that can be reused or easily changed further down the line. For example, if you're putting in a new kitchen, the old kitchen can temporarily be reused in the utility room.
Choosing An Interior Style
A lot of previous clients choosing to build/renovate/extend have a panic moment towards the end of the build when they have concentrated solely on the main elements without any real thought to interior finishes. At this stage, my advice would be to think about previous experiences and places both home and away that stand out in your mind.
For your main bedroom, think of hotels or accommodation you might have stayed in whilst on holidays that you loved. Similarly, with dining areas, hospitality is a great source of inspiration for how to dress these spaces. Are there cafes or restaurants where you love the lighting or furniture? Don’t feel limited to the interior stores in your local area. If you are on a budget, there are tonnes of great online stores both Irish based and overseas, where you can get great bang for your buck in terms of quirky interior finds.
For lower ceiling heights, pick kitchen cabinets, wardrobes and shelving that are full height. Your eye line will be drawn upwards and it will give you a greater feeling of space and height. You will also gain additional shelving, it looks seamless and you will avoid visible clutter and dust gathering.
Before purchasing an off the shelf display unit or freestanding wardrobe, consider bespoke joinery. Going bespoke can actually be a lot more cost-effective than people think. If there is an alcove you plan to locate a TV, consider a bespoke shelving unit, designed by your architect, to perfectly fit the width and height. Bespoke elements will not only make your home more user-friendly and look great but it can again add further value to the property down the line.
Have Fun With Bathrooms
Bathroom spaces are the least lived in spaces in our homes so they are somewhere where you can go a little more extreme on colour or tiling without it necessarily needing to tie in with the rest of the interiors in your home. Show off your personality with a patterned floor tile, some bright coloured grouting, groovy palm tree wallpaper or a feature pendant over your bathtub for some added drama.
Embrace Your Dark Side
This may be breaking an interiors golden rule but sometimes when you are stuck with a north facing dark room, embrace it! Paint the walls navy, add some colourful accessories, subtle moody lighting and you have yourself a perfect space for a Teenage boy, a Meditation space or a TV Den for some quiet time in front of the box.
As well as Architectural and Interior Design, Courtney works with other creative industries such as graphic designers, lighting designers, landscape architects and sign painters to create visually stunning projects, particularly within the commercial sector.