KEY CONSIDERATIONS WHEN EMBARKING ON A RENOVATION PROJECT
A new year is filled with promise, excitement, intent. Whether it’s embracing a fresh routine, learning a new skill or embarking on a renovation project, January’s your starting pistol!
All dressed up and nowhere to go. Time to get planning!
I tend to go off-piste all too quickly when it comes to lifestyle fads – the commitment just isn’t there! So, bypassing organic recipes and workout advice, this post will instead impart professional insight on renovating your home. I’ll be sharing the dos – and stressing the don’ts – of this extensive undertaking, and revealing industry secrets to elevate your outcome.
I’ve partnered with Vario by VELUX on this piece, who I sincerely love for their high quality and unique bespoke rooflights. (You know I’m all for a bit of custom and a flurry of natural light). We will be exploring the renovation project in its entirety, from concept to process, and how design conscious details, like a custom rooflight, can make all the difference to the environments we are shaping.
A gorgeous finished renovation project by, featuring a Vario by VELUX bespoke rooflight
KEY CONSIDERATION #1: STOP AND ASSESS
I’m all for jumping in once inspiration sparks. It’s the artist in me and it has certainly fuelled many an all-nighter. Yes, it can be fun to leap but sometimes, patience genuinely is a virtue.
This is certainly the case when it comes to a renovation project, especially when said project is significant in scale and spend. Renovations come in all shapes and sizes from a spontaneous weekend room refresh (click here for my paint recommendations) to entire house remodelling, home extensions and conversions. Regardless of size, the intention is always the same – to better the space, improve living experience and make fit for purpose.
That is why the ‘stop and assess’ approach is so key. Before embarking on anything, consider what isn’t working first. Is it the lack of natural light (hello glazing) or focal point? It is that it feels cramped and unloved, too fussy or too stark? Create an inventory of things you wish to keep – from original doors to a vintage dresser – and note what has to go.
Assess whether the current space is dated chic or just desperately dated…
And, if you’ve just moved into that doer-upper, the waiting game can be even more important. Learn how you live in the space. Where do you like to sit with a cup of tea? What does the sun do at different times of day and where is that draft coming from? Understanding a home first is paramount and will positively inform your decision-making as the process evolves.
KEY CONSIDERATION #2: ENGAGE PROFESSIONALS & PLAN TO PERFECTION
Professionals are worth investing in. From architect to interior designer, structural engineer to Daylight Design Expert, you will benefit from knowledge and understanding, practical experience and great ideas to help really elevate your renovation project
The level of professional advice and involvement required may vary from project to project, depending on the scale and scope, your budget and your desired level of involvement and confidence. For a smaller make-over, you may choose to DIY your way through its entirety. For larger renovations, when layouts are being altered, rooms repurposed or spaces extended then professional involvement is certainly preferential.
The success of professional services also comes down to how much information you are able to impart. The more you can share about your budget, expectations, stylistic preferences and functional requirements, the better.
Inside-outside living. Image and rooflight Vario by VELUX
Put together a mood board or pin some ideas that excite you. Write a brief outlining your requirements from ‘must have’ to ‘nice to have’ and consider your budgetary expectations. Then do your research on who would be best to work alongside.
Engage an architect who really aligns with your ideas and understands your vision. If they know the constrains and allowances at a local planning level then that certainly helps too. Prepare for this phase to drag; thirteen weeks from submission at times. If your proposal falls outside of permitted development rights, then it’s a step that cannot be skipped (and requires a little finger-crossing)!
If you’re opting for an interior designer (like myself) to really elevate the final outcome, it’s important to involve us early in the process too. Whilst there may appear to be some overlap, architects and designers bring different skills, expertise, ideas and perspectives to a project and are best working in tandem.
An interior designer has that special eye for detail (and has also perfected the cushion karate-chop)!
For renovation projects involving major changes or an extension/conversion, a structural engineer, working in conjunction with your architect and designer, will check the integrity of the proposed plans. Their job is to first assess and then make a comprehensive recommendation to ensure all building work is safe and structurally sound.
For specialist products, such as flooring or doors, I would advise speaking to professional suppliers and installers early on. This will allow you to understand both the possibilities and price point of their products.
Amazing but oh-so costly. Ensure you’re plans are in line with your budget before submitting
Bespoke rooflight connoisseurs, Vario by VELUX, offer a free consultation with one of their Daylight Design Experts. Within this meeting, they can review architectural drawings, provide input on the optimum daylight available for your project and answer any questions at this crucial, planning stage. The location of a rooflight could affect pendant fixture positioning which, consequently, may impact the placement of the dining table. This works the other way too and serves to highlight why design should be approached holistically – and in advance of works. Changes on site can cost both time and money.
A 3D render of a proposed space by Vario at VELUX, featuring their unique, bespoke rooflight solutions
KEY CONSIDERATION #3: LIGHTING
From natural to artificial, lighting is almost everything to interior design and can be totally transformative.
Beautiful patterns in natural light really add depth and character to this shower enclosure. Image and rooflight Vario by VELUX
Firstly, to natural light. We all know the benefits – health and well-being, that all-important connection to nature, rejuvenation, inspiration!
Your architect will advise on planning (and limitations) but my advice is to install as much glazing as you can (unless you’re going for ‘dark’ and ‘brooding’). Vertical facade glazing takes many forms – from casement or sash windows to sliding, bi-fold or French doors – in a variety of materials, colours and finishes. As our love affair with inside-outside living continues, keep those external door thresholds integrated so as not to interrupt the flow.
Bringing the outside in (and keeping the threshold flush). Image and rooflight Vario by VELUX
Whilst a wall of glass is extremely coveted, it’s important to note that traditional glazing only takes light so far into a space. If your renovation project involves an extension, the creation of a somewhat dim ‘middle section’ is almost inevitable. This is why the rooflight is a game-changer.
Allowing daylight to flood in from a totally different aspect and significantly deeper into the elevation, this ‘top light’ is more than three times brighter than vertical glazing’s offering. Vario by Velux‘s bespoke rooflights are beautifully crafted and the ultimate solution to both elevate and illuminate your space. Fully customisable and made bespoke to specification, you’re free to unleash your creativity and design the perfect solution for your project.
The Unlimited Rooflight offers a maximum 4sqm edge-to-edge view of the skies above with the cleverly engineered gutter and beam connector system making it possible to combine modules, endlessly. For a narrow side return extension, the Long Slim Rooflight is a great option, starting with a minimum width of just 250mm.
A concept image showcasing the endless opportunities that a Vario by VELUX bespoke rooflight offers
If you have a flat roof above, (it ideally requires a minimum 5 degree tilt for installation to avoid rainwater ponding and keeping it cleaner for longer), then the inclusion of a slick rooflight further into the space is a no-brainer. Opt for the opening feature for some fresh air and enjoy the interplay of light and shade as it dances across your room over the course of a day!
Vario by Velux bespoke rooflights are beautifully made with design consciousness, bringing a uniqueness, innovation and flexibility to the rooflight market. Not sure what would work or looking for a steer on cost? They have a fabulous Build Your Own configuration tool, giving you the possibility to design your own fully customisable rooflight online with live pricing at the click of a button.
Don’t forget your fifth wall! Let the ceiling sing with a bespoke Vario by VELUX rooflight
Layer your lighting and it will never disappoint. From elegant wall lights, offering a subtle wash, to statement table lamps, rich in texture, vary your sources. Explore different heights, zone and add purpose with your fixtures. Task lighting should aid activities such as reading. Ambient lighting will create interest and atmosphere (and should always be installed with a dimmer). Accent lighting can be used to highlight features such as art or showcase architectural detail, but should not overwhelm and instead play a supporting role.
Lighting can have a huge impact on how we feel in a space. It’s largely what makes the inspirational places we love to visit – hotels and restaurants – so appealing. Artificial light can also work beautifully in conjunction with natural, to balance and enhance.
A number of different light sources work harmoniously to complement the natural daylight within this project I designed at Sarah Mailer Design
KEY CONSIDERATION #4: FINALISE PLANS
When I consult with clients at this very stage of a project, I always encourage a walk-through. I ask them to imagine themselves at the front of their house and to consider how they would live in it and use each space at different times of day and on different occasions.
What normally arises is a desperate lack of storage. It’s important to focus on storage. Critical. After all, if your intended look is stylishly curated, then the everyday ugly needs a hiding place! And don’t overlook how much is required – I’ve never known anyone to struggle filling a cupboard!
For a streamlined, minimalist look, the art of the edit is central to success. Sufficient storage allows for this and should never be overlooked. Image Vario by VELUX
Also consider your finishes at this stage – flooring, walls, cabinetry, brassware both in terms of their look and feel and practicality. A pale marble worktop is eternally beautiful but can be risky for a red wine drinker who hates cleaning! And, if you’re a family of muddy walk enthusiasts, a forgiving tiled floor entryway with dark(ish) grout will fare much better than a pale stained timber.
Porcelain tiles are particularly forgiving of muddy wellies. Image: Sarah Mailer Design
Once you’ve finalised plans, put together a full scope of works and tender it out to various recommended contractors. If you’re struggling to complete this, your architect, interior designer or a tender specialist will be able to help. Aim to receive three comparable quotes and request to see professional references and examples of their work. Ask if they will be project managing too and what to expect from that.
It can be tempting to dive into the cheapest quote but this isn’t always the answer. If something feels ‘too good to be true’, it probably is. Ultimately, the key is to find a good fit, as you’ll likely have the contractor and their team working with you for some time!
KEY CONSIDERATION #5: SPENDING & SAVING
Budget management is central to success. Image Vario by VELUX
It’s undeniable; a renovation project is a costly endeavour. Avoid going off-piste with your spending by setting a clear and realistic budget at the start. This is why early research really pays off – few(er) surprises! Knowing where best to allocate funds is also useful. Consider when it’s worth spending a little extra to ensure quality and longevity – and when you can hold back.
For big-ticket items such as windows, doors or flooring, costs can vary significantly depending on many factors from product size and specification to the finish and supplier. I’m a true believer in ‘you get what you pay for’ and for these items, (along with a mattress) I would recommend purchasing the best you can afford. When balancing your budget, it’s always worth spending on permanent fixtures like beautiful windows or an awe-inspiring bespoke rooflight. This items will significantly enhance both the space and your living experience – worthwhile, value-adding investments, to be enjoyed for years to come.
A quality, bespoke rooflight will stand you in good stead. Image Vario by VELUX
RENOVATION PROJECT – THE END GOAL!
Who’s excited to get going?!
I hope this piece has both inspired and informed and I would love to hear about your renovation plans in the comments below. Feel free to share photos or ask questions too. It may feel a long slog at times but there’s so much opportunity, and nothing quite like creating something beautiful and entirely your own!
Good luck and wishing you well for the year ahead!
Girl signing off,
*Please note that this post has been sponsored by Vario by VELUX. Thank you to Vario by VELUX for many of the images I’ve shared here and for your versatile and high quality bespoke rooflights, which make my job as a designer easier. I feel it important to reiterate that I only promote brands which I truly believe in and support. As always, my content is entirely original and all views expressed are my own.
** If you’re looking for more design advice, the following posts my be useful: 3 Interior Design Mistakes and How To Avoid |How to Choose the Perfect Paint Colour | How to Design Children’s Bedrooms | How to Create a Spa Bathroom | Coffee Table Book Styling