Sort it: When doing a home makeover, keep it timeless

In a busy year for home improvements kitchens and bathrooms ruled the roost

Kitchens have gone from being purely functional spaces to becoming a busy, sociable space

Kitchens have gone from being purely functional spaces to becoming a busy, sociable space


It has been a very busy year for home improvements. Almost half of all homeowners in Ireland carried out a home makeover project in 2016, according to a “House & Home” survey from Houzz, the online platform for home renovation and design.

The most popular project of those surveyed was a kitchen renovation. Kitchens have gone from being purely functional spaces to becoming a busy, sociable space accommodating dining, living and entertaining zones where family and friends can spend time together.

This is the one room in the house where you and your family will spend most of your time so it’s vital you make the right decisions. Getting it right will not only add real value to your home but also greatly improve your quality of life.

When selecting your kitchen supplier it pays to do a little research. Spend a bit of time researching suppliers and take note of the style of kitchen that they tend to specialise in. Some kitchen companies are more traditional in style whereas others specialise in a more contemporary look. Once you have compiled a shortlist of preferred suppliers, take some time to visit their showrooms. This is the best way to familiarise yourself with their products and the people you will be dealing with.


When it comes to choosing the style of your kitchen I would advise steering away from trends. Your kitchen is a substantial investment so I would suggest a timeless finish and styles that you won’t tire of.

You don’t have to ignore the trends completely, however. Incorporate them through accessories and paint colours. These are things that can easily be updated. Hand-painted kitchens are a great way to introduce the latest colours and can be repainted at a later date when you want a completely new look.

Kitchen accessories like door handles, sinks and taps now come in a range of metallic finishes such as brass and copper. So it is possible to have a very on-trend kitchen and still be able to transform it in a few years with minimal disruption and cost.

Another popular project, according to the Houzz survey, was a bathroom renovation, with 79 per cent of those surveyed citing a new shower as the reason for updating this room. This is another area of your home that’s really worth spending a bit of time on.


Wetroom showers are very popular, but for them to be trouble-free in the future they need to be installed by a very competent contractor. Shower trays are easier to install and there are far fewer risks with leaks. There are some very shallow profiled trays on the market now that sit almost flush with the floor finish, creating a wet-room effect without the worry.

Removing a bath to create a large walk-in shower is a great idea, but you need to make sure it is the right decision for the future too. If it’s the only bath in the house and you plan on selling your home in the future or if you plan on having children, you might regret the decision.

Over a quarter of those surveyed admitted to starting their project without setting a budget, and those with a budget exceeded the amount they had planned to spend.


It’s really important to set a budget before you start any kind of home improvement project. It’s also important to let those involved in the project know what you have to spend. There is a misconception that disclosing your budget to your builder or architect is a bad idea, but without knowing what you have to spend it is impossible to advise you properly about where to invest and where to scale back.

When working out your budget make sure to add an additional 10 per cent as a contingency for unexpected extra costs. Renovation projects can often run up against problems that are impossible to predict from the outset.

Finally, once your project is under way be careful about making changes or last-minute additions. The builder will not have priced them in and they tend to add up quickly to bring you over budget.

Denise O’Connor is an architect and design consultant