7 expert renovation design rules

Go from piecemeal-patchwork to seamlessly sleek with our seven expert design rules. Tom Bentley from Refresh Renovations UK shares his top tips that will help you create the right look and feel for your home, and avoid common renovation pitfalls.

A living room with concrete wall and grey sofa
ARTICLE Stephanie Matheson

1. Look far and wide

Do your research and create a mood board with colour swatches, textile strips and images of houses and rooms that you like as well as pictures of materials, products and appliances. Professional designers work with mood boards to collect ideas and visually illustrate what they wish to create. Tom recommends: “Take time and don’t rush into a renovation project head over heels. Work out what you like and what works with the style of your home. Also research architects and renovation specialists to find the right experts who can help you turn your vision into reality.” Magazines, websites and blogs are a great place to start when looking for inspiration and fresh renovation ideas. It doesn’t matter whether you prefer Pinteresth boards or old-fashioned paper scrapbooks – collecting images will help you convey your ideas.

2. Set a budget

“Setting a budget for your renovation is one of the key things to ensure your project will be a success,” says Tom. “Get a comprehensive quote and be as clear as possible in terms of your plans and fixtures.” Preparing for your project, from collecting your ideas through to finalising the architectural plans and working out a detailed quote with the renovation specialists, is often one of the longest phases of a renovation, and for good reason. “Changes to your plans further down the track can be costly,” says Tom. It’s wise to take detailed notes of plans and any changes, and keep them all in a dedicated folder for easy access. Another aspect to consider is that renovation work can sometimes uncover problems that may require extra remedial work. So ensure that you add a contingency budget of about 20 per cent for unforeseen issues.

3. Future and age-proof your home

There is a lot to consider and the devil is in the detail when it comes to planning ahead and thinking about your house and the way you may want to use it not just now, but also further down the track. “There is more to this than thinking about fixtures and interior design trends,” explains Tom. “It’s about thinking of you and your family’s changing lifestyles.” Common points to consider, for example, are having extra wiring and cables installed for future multi-media use. Another example would be to plan on wide enough hallways, walk-in showers et cetera that would allow easy access as well as wheelchair access. You could even consider generating your own electricity as solar panels are becoming more affordable.
A living room with wooden floor, fluffy rug

4. Apply one interior style to the whole house

This does not mean that every room should look the same. However, having a common thread that runs through the whole house adds that accomplished look and feel of a home well designed and styled. Create a harmonious whole by repeating colours and materials throughout the whole house. This could be done in many different ways, for example by repeating wall colours, flooring materials and by tying it all together with uniform light fittings, power sockets et cetera.

Have a look at our House Extension Cost Guide which featured in Renovate Magazine.

If you are building a modern extension onto an older home, it’s especially important to work out a way to integrate the spaces. Most often the interior design approach is to blend the two parts of the building together as seamlessly as possible, but you could also opt to create a visual difference between the old house and a new, modern space.

5. Be colour and material wise

It’s easy to choose colours and materials simply because of their beauty and visual appeal, but it pays to look into the options more closely and take their durability and the level of required maintenance into account. Shop around and ask renovation-savvy friend for advice. Tom advises: “Building materials come in all different shapes and sizes, so to speak. From flooring materials through to roof tiles, there are usual several options to consider. Different materials will often perform differently, for example wooden floors are prone to scratching while ceramic tiles will be a more hard-wearing option.”

6. Focus on a few select statement pieces

Having just a few pieces that stand out, and otherwise using quality but less expensive materials, will set the tone and stand the test of time. For example, a high-end oven or range hood can create visual impact in the kitchen, while in a bathroom a designer vanity or freestanding bath can be a great way to focus attention. Buying the best you can and opting for quality over quantity is usually good advice. To make your budget go the extra mile, do your research, compare prices and choose wisely.

7. Consider the resale appeal

This might not be your aim for renovating your house, of course, but it might be an interesting and valuable consideration indeed. When deciding where to put your money and which alterations to prioritise, this information can be a useful guide in helping you work out which features would add to the value of your home in general terms. Experienced renovation specialists will be able to discuss the specifics of your house and renovation ideas, help you understand the market and types of buyers in your area, and point out common trends and pitfalls.

You might be interested in reading: 10 clever ways to lighten up your home.

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If you would like to discuss home renovation options for your next renovation project, please use the enquiry form on this page to provide us with your contact details. We will get in touch with you at a time that suits you to discuss your project. If you would like to provide us with more information about your project, we have a more comprehensive enquiry form on our "Get in touch" page too.
*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.

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