Four steps that finish a renovation with flourish
Sort It: Carefully chosen finishes make a home improvement a stand-out job
For upholstery and furnishings take practicality into account.
One of the most common areas people struggle with is putting the finishing touches to a home refurb. Whether you’re working with an architect or designer or tackling the project yourself, you should think about the finishing touches as early on in the process as possible. Follow these four steps to create a cohesive scheme in your home.
1. Fixtures and fittings
These are the items you will need to choose early on in the design process, ideally before the builder even starts. They include items such as the kitchen, flooring, bathroom tiles and any fitted or built-in joinery.
They will form the foundation of the interior design of your home, and because these items are not going to be easily replaced, they represent the biggest interior design decisions you’re going to make.
Take practicalities into account. If you’re picking a floor for your kitchen, for example, I’d recommend something water resistant. I know when I renovated my home the flooring for the open-plan space was the decision that took me the longest to make.
Visit as many showrooms as you can to see different styles and finishes in situ. There’s nothing like seeing something, in reality, to decide whether or not you like it. Ask for samples to take home so you can see how they look in the room they are planned for. Showroom lighting is artificial so colours and textures will look completely different in your home.
When it comes to picking wall colours, use the fixtures and fittings as a guide. Make sure the colours work with the finishes.
How you plan to use each of the rooms should also influence your colour choice. A kitchen will require an entirely different atmosphere to a bedroom, for example. It should feel fresh, vibrant and inviting so you will want to go for brighter or lighter colours. The bedroom, however, will need to be calm and restful. Softer shades create a tranquil feeling, or even consider a dark, moody tone to create a cocoon-like effect.
Think about the orientation of the room. Is it north or south facing? A common mistake with dark rooms is to paint them white to brighten them, but this will make them feel clinical instead. With north-facing rooms you should try to make them feel cosy, so warm earthy shades work best. In sunnier rooms you have more options and can play with both dark and light tones.
Put a plan together for a few key items and plot them out in each room to ensure they will fit and work together. Figure out how you want to use each room. Is it formal or relaxed? In the sitting room, for example, is the TV the main focus or should the room invite conversation? The function of the room will dictate the orientation and kind of furniture to choose. Also consider the style of the home. Is it contemporary or traditional?
The same is true when it comes to deciding what kind of curtains or blinds to go for. A frequently-used family room, for example, would have completely different requirements to a formal dining room or a tranquil bedroom.
Once you have an idea about function and style, the next thing to do is choose the fabric. For upholstery and furnishings take practicality into account. Your home is the one place you want to relax so worrying about the sofa getting grubby shouldn’t be an issue. Most fabrics can be used to make curtains, and many fabric suppliers will code their fabrics allowing you easily determine whether or not it is suitable for your needs.
Accessories will pull the whole scheme together and are the best way to introduce bolder colour into any plan. They can have a practical function too. Rugs and other soft furnishings are great for absorbing noise in an open-plan space like a kitchen where there are lots of hard surfaces.
Art can be a fantastic place to start if you are looking for inspiration. Pulling shades for your colour scheme from a painting you plan to hang will create a cohesive look. In my living space, I selected a vibrant blue and yellow from a painting that hangs by the dining area.
The secret to getting it right is in layering. You should start with a neutral colour backdrop on walls and larger pieces of furniture and build colour carefully by adding bolder colours through accessories and art. Take your time and build the scheme up gradually, this is the one step you don’t want to rush.
The next Optimise Home event takes place on Tuesday, May 21st in the Dean Hotel, Harcourt Street, Dublin. A panel of experts will offer advice on how to add the finishing touches to home interiors. See eventbrite.ie for tickets.
Denise O’Connor is an architect and design consultant @optimisedesign