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Like to upgrade your home? 8 things an architect wants you to know first

What not to splurge on and the trends that you won’t end up hating.

Image: Unsplash

HAVE A PINTEREST BOARD that’s just a little too full of ideas you’d love to try in your home? Or just sick of a badly-thought out paint job from a few years ago?

We talked to renovation expert and Director of DMVF Architects Lisa McVeigh to find out the insider tips that every person improving their home should know before they start.

Here she talks where you should splurge and where you can scrimp, and most importantly which trends you’ll still love years down the line.

1. Start a (digital) scrapbook

squared-one-212144 Source: Unsplash

Planning how to make your home perfect, starts on your iPad, or at least that’s what McVeigh says, who suggests two particular sites for interiors inspiration.

Think outside the box. Check out lots of websites like Houzz and Pinterest and gather images and clippings of what you like. If you think a particular vision might work, see it through to the end, seek advice and go for it.

She also suggests to keep an eye on exciting projects being completed around the country for a peek into the level of transformation that is possible for your home. Within her experience, three houses she has worked on have stick out:

  • A project on Bray Head that converted a 1970s bungalow by taking off the roof and adding another floor which opened up panoramic views across Dublin Bay.
  • Two Georgian houses on Camden Street, where the upper floors were knocked into one house, and access to the new house on the upper floor is now through a west-facing roof terrace, creating a new double height space in the centre of the two houses.
  • A converted 26 square metre cottage in Bray, where a plywood box was ‘inserted’ which contained a bathroom and utility. The roof of the plywood box became a sleeping platform and the faces of the box would house the kitchen, staircase and storage.

2. If your kids have moved out, be selfish with space

norbert-levajsics-202945 Source: Unsplash

Are you now doing up your house because your kids have left, or are you anticipating adding more to your growing family? If it’s because you now have an empty nest, McVeigh insists that you should put yourself first:

Be selfish. Take back the space for yourself… Turn the box room into a walk-in wardrobe to create a large master suite for yourself. Don’t worry about re-selling, that wardrobe can be turned back into a bedroom very easily.

However, for those with younger children, McVeigh warns that you may want to consider your future needs as the toddlers turn to teens:

When expanding, think about how your kids will use the spaces later. The playroom that opens off the family room may be ideal with toddlers but later, they may want a separate den located well away from parents. You may also want that too!

3. Position your kitchen carefully

naomi-hebert-188443 Source: Unsplash

When renovating, the kitchen is the most common room to be shown a little TLC, and rightly so, says McVeigh, who still sees the value in investing in an island and a well-positioned kitchen:

I am a great believer in the island unit. It’s not just a fad. It allows us to work while chatting to family and friends or while admiring the view to our garden or balcony. Try not to push the kitchen up against the rear wall as this will block your view. Instead, locate your units towards the back and side and place an island in the middle. It will make the room feel larger.

4. Don’t be afraid to build

andre-branco-168644 Source: Unsplash

When taking the significant step to renovate, it’s not uncommon for homeowners to be reluctant to actually have work done. However, even the removal of a wall can make a huge difference, says McVeigh:

A lot of people are put off by carrying out some structural work, in the scheme of things, it may be so worth it. Removing a supporting wall could make a huge difference to the overall space. Be ambitious. It’s going to be your home for a while, so go for it!

5. Use your floors to create pattern

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In the interiors world, trends are constantly changing and at times it’s hard to pick styles that will stand the test of time.

I think architects are now mixing glass with innovative materials, strong textures and bold patterns. The use of steel and timber slats and panels are a great way to break up the monotony of a having a lot of glass. In finishes, consider raw oak flooring laid in herringbone, block or chevron patterns.

6. Splurge on fittings, save on tiles

shutterstock_297421979 Source: Shutterstock/Breadmaker

Trying to do it all on a tight budget? Unfortunately, there are things that you should always spend on, but there are also plenty of opportunities to save, especially within bathrooms, according to McVeigh:

In bathrooms, choose simple but inexpensive sanitary ware and then dress up with the more expensive taps and shower fittings. It is very popular now to limit the extent of tiling on bathroom walls. Paint is much less expensive than stone or porcelain tiles.

7. Save on your flooring (you can always upgrade it later)

sylwia-pietruszka-218324 Source: Unsplash

Although it is hugely important to make sure the bones of your home are in tip top shape, you can always invest at a later date on flooring, says McVeigh:

Don’t skimp on necessary structural and insulating works. Invest in good quality windows, doors and rooflights. If necessary, go for a cheap carpet or a cheap laminate floor now and replace later when there are more funds available.

8. Avoid darker coloured wood

sandro-katalina-113209 Source: Unsplash

When it comes to one trend that instantly ages a home, it’s a particularly dark shade of wood, says McVeigh:

We all remember the dark mahogany staircases and side boards from our parent’s houses. Strong coloured timbers can often give away the age of the building. Try to stick to light/medium oaks unless you are open to changing later, but of course you can always paint timber.

Inspired to try some home improvements of your own? Credit unions are local, accessible and a leading provider of loans for all types of home improvements. So whether you are considering a straightforward redecoration or wish to convert an attic or add a new kitchen, contact your local credit union today or check out Credit Union.

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