Sort it: Follow these guidelines to ensure you maximise the space in your home

If you have any doubts about any aspect of the design make sure they are resolved before the builder prices for the job. Photograph: Getty

In advance of the work, agree the cost, make all your decisions and nail down the design

Before you tackle any kind of home improvement try to take the long view. Image: iStock/Getty Images

Think about the future when planning projects but don’t neglect the small stuff

Home renovations and extensions are emotionally exhausting, so my final piece of advice is to stay focused on the end result

Denise O'Connor learned so much from her own refurb that it changed the way she advises clients

Architects don’t just provide good design, they can  save you money and steer you through the build process

Take out the risk of run-ins with your architect during your build or renovations

Instead of continually gathering images, try to review your boards and idea books regularly and eliminate anything that is no longer relevant.

Sort It: Follow these steps to simplify a renovation project, so it doesn’t overwhelm you

Another solution is to get the building work done in one go but to postpone finishing some rooms.

Sort It: Off-the-shelf products and phased work can help keep budget in check

If you want your garden to look its best, you need to be prepared to work on it for at least a couple of hours every month

Sort It: Spring has sprung, it's time to transform that neglected outdoor space

It can be tempting to try to save money by doing some of the jobs yourself or enlisting a family member. But poorly-completed work will cost you money in the long run

Sort It: Including why you should tell a builder, architect or designer how much you have to spend

A panel of global experts predicts the colour “heart wood” will best reflect the way we want to live in 2018

Last year’s blush pink and jewel tones make way for more muted shades

Built-in seating is a big space saver.

Sort it: Making the most of your space will help to create a home that feels more open

A UK firm built compact apartments for young Londoners. Could that work here?

So many of us are afraid of using colour and really struggle when it comes to choosing the right shade

Bland is banned – being bold with your choices can raise the value of your house

Removing a chimney is simpler than you think – you just need to plan properly for it. Photograph: Getty Images

Major structural changes can be daunting, but removing a fireplace can be straightforward and yield great results

It can be hard to see past how you currently use your home but an architect can see areas where you could make better use of space and help you to achieve your vision. Photograph: Ruth Maria Murphy

A good architect will save you money and guide you through the process

Try not to become obsessed with square footage. When it comes to a home, bigger is not necessarily better

Visit the house you want with an impartial builder or architect for an objective opinion

There are internet sites offering  all the information you think you need  – and more. You just need to know where to look.

Interiors ideas are everywhere online, from Houzz, to Pinterest to unique design websites. You just need to know where to go

Green theme: The colour of nature featured strongly at the Maison & Objet interior design trade fair  in Paris

The Paris design show was ablaze with bold colours including blush and green

Homes of the future: it’s a good idea to set up a passcode on devices accessed by children at home

Secure, high-speed broadband is critical to the performance of devices such as thermostats and security systems

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

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

Having a number of different light sources in a room  allows you to control the atmosphere in the room

The Danish lifesyle concept ‘hygge’ is taking the world by storm for obvious reasons

Your ceiling-mounted extractor can even become a design feature of your kitchen

Your kitchen lay-out will dictate whether a ducted or recirculation system is best for you

Focal point:   building regulations mean  modern fireplaces must be more energy-efficient  than traditional ones

The alternatives to open fires are increasingly attractive as well as eco-efficient

A separate room to hold all of your clothes, shoes, bags and accessories is a good idea, in theory, but you need to be realistic about available space

Opinions vary on whether to go for closed or open shelving. A mix of the two is best

If you want an  accurate costing for the work  you are planning to do, send it out to contractors  – and it’s worth getting your big-picture plan costed at this stage.

Phase your home extension or renovation only if your budget dictates such an approach

The clearer your vision for how you want your home to be, the smoother the process will be

Live in your home for a while and make much better plans for modifications

Ring video doorbell lets you answer your door from anywhere using your smartphone Ring video doorbell lets you answer your door from anywhere using your smartphone

Many of the best products are in the area of home security

Kitchen fit-outs are a different type of job to  an entire house renovation: when choosing a contractor ensure they are suited to the scale of your task.

Always seek recommendations of trusted sources

Having an easy-to-maintain garden is the top consideration among Irish homeowners who are considering upgrading their outdoor space.

With some proper planning and investment, your outdoor space can be an extension of living area

There is a lot of choice when it comes to skirtings, from the very traditional to much more contemporary, so it’s worth getting it right. Photograph: IStock

Skirting boards, architraves, handles - these are the small things that really matter

Your architect may have more feel for modern style than traditional design

It’s important to have a good rapport with the professional you choose to build your home

A well designed and waterproofed flat roof should not cause problems or leak

There are three main flat-roof systems: rubber, fibreglass and torch-on felt

Plan where furniture will go before you plan your radiator, socket and lighting

When doing a renovation, remember to plan everything to suit your life

Realistic design: All of the items on your wishlist may not be achievable within your budget so compromises may need to be made and these changes will prolong the process

Organisation and decisiveness makes all the difference to a building project’s time scale

One of the advantages of extending upwards is that it won’t impact on the garden, meaning it is ideal for those with small outdoor spaces.

If your garden is small, adding a storey to your home is a way to gain space

Strategically placing rooflights over designated areas – such as over the kitchen work space or the walkway through the space – can create a striking feature as well as bringing lovely light to your new space.

There are styles to suit most tastes and budgets – so it’s easy to let the light shine in

If you are only going to improve one area of your home with the hope of boosting your property’s value, make it the kitchen and, if possible, open it up to your garden.

Look at how the space in your house and garden is used before you begin

Large furniture can be hard to part with but will it work in your new home? Make an inventory of your existing furniture, art and accessories and decide what you plan to put where.
The upsides of downsizing

It can be tough decision to make, but many who have downsized can feel liberated from the tyranny of household chores, upkeep, big(...)

The space you have is also a factor in  the kind of stove you choose. Freestanding stoves tend to be bigger and take up more space.  The Oisin freestanding stove pictured is by Stanley.

Replacing an open fire with a stove can reduce energy consumption by up to 10 per cent

Corridors and hallways are good for adding built-in storage. Bespoke solutions will work best in these locations and can be designed to blend in with your existing decor.

Even the smallest home can feel bigger with a few simple changes

Copper and rose-coloured metals work well with whites and greys

Create a space where the whole family can interact while going about everyday tasks

Handmade and handcrafted items for our homes will become increasingly sought after this year instead of mass-produced products

Natural fabrics such as wool, linen and cotton will be popular this year to make way for a more honest approach to design

Adding a basement can often add as much space as the floor above

But you’ll have to carefully plan how to get natural light into the new rooms

Everything in its place: a best-seller gives a step-by-step guide to tidying up
How to declutter the Japanese way

Tidying must begin with discarding

Make the most of your wall space by using hooks and pegs to hang up handbags, scarves, ties and hats

Most of us only use about 50 per cent of the available space in our wardrobes. Here’s a few ways to maximise storage

Treating new bedrooms more like hotel rooms – with their own seating area, TV and small desk – will mean they become more of a living space rather than simply a bedroom

Clever design can make a home work for all ages and visitors

Linking your ground floor living space with the garden is another great investment. The key is making the transition between inside and out as seamless as possible

Use focal points to determine the focus of a particular area within a large space

Ambient lighting is a purely functional form of lighting that provides an overall illumination for a space and is generally achieved either by overhead pendants or spotlights

Ambient, task, accent and decorative: there are four main ways to light your home

Even a bright and glossy new kitchen starts with the dreary business of nailing a workable budget

There is a misconception that telling an architect or builder how much you have to spend is a bad idea – it’s very important that (...)

Here an extra-long flex means the pendant can hang over the dining table helping to create a dining zone in this open-plan living space

A few tricks can help you to make your apartment feel more welcoming

Kitchen range: different surfaces from steel to wood to stone to laminate create different aesthetic tones and fulfil various culinary purposes.

Stone, marble, steel or laminate: they all shape the style and function of your kitchen

Alu-clad offers the same low-maintenance qualities as UPVC while maintaining the more tactile timber interior

New windows will ultimately improve the energy efficiency of your home

The High Line in New York city is a great example of how planting and gardens can transform an urban experience

New York has its High Line and Paris its Promenade Plantée, which have been planted to make use of old rail lines

The price of a water filter varies depending on the kind of system you choose. On average they start at about €200 plus installation

It’s worth noting that different water filters will remove different types of contamination

The more realistic the grass the more expensive it tends to be. Prices range from €18 per sq m to €35 per sq m

Low maintenance, it stays green all year round and it could last up to 20 years

The water-based system works best where a new floor is laid, such as an extension, as pipes have to be installed. It is more energy efficient than radiators.

It’s a tempting solution but think carefully before you make a decision

The area under the stairs can often be used as extra storage space

There are ways to find additional room in your home without having to extend

It is generally cheaper to try to find a way to maximise the potential of your current home than to move. But there are a number of factors to consider to ensure you make the right decision.
Renovate or move house?

If a new sale price outweighs the cost of renovating your current home, the decision will be easier to make - however don’t undere(...)

Eliminating leftover areas: use low space under the eaves for storage and try to ensure that it is as accessible as possible, perhaps by building drawers rather than cupboards

Headroom, light, access: plan your attic extension properly before you start

Anyone who has had renovations done on their house will appreciate how little disruption building a garden room causes

Opting for an external addition is cheaper and won’t affect your home’s layout

Before: kitchen space in need of an upgrade
When the worst house is best bet

Years of neglect and dated décor can be a real obstacle to many people buying a house but don’t be seduced by an immaculate walk-i(...)

Benches are a great way of maximising the space you have available

A little reconfiguration and reworking of space can work wonders

Speak to friends or neighbours and visit previous completed works before committing yourself to hiring a builder or tradesperson to work on your house renovation.

Get references and visit completed projects before committing to a builder

Home cleanse: be clever with storage and shelves to enjoy a more organised kitchen space

Get rid of unwanted, out of date items and create a clutter-free home

Dress up a fake wreath
Take it easy with the decorations

Why not take the Swedish approach to decorating and keep it simple and calm

Near future: years from now, rooms could adapt to suit the occupants’ requirements

Even though technology makes many of us want to hide away, it can enable us to create the perfect environment to relax

If you are adding extra space, think about the impact it will have on the house and make sure it does not compromise the existing layout or the amount of natural light coming in

If you’re adding space or reconfiguring your home make sure it works for you

When choosing grout it is best to match the tile colour as closely as possible

Make sure you have bought everything needed before the builder starts

With the impending water charges, this year might have been the last time to enjoy such a flamboyant abundance of colour in the garden. To ensure beloved blooms are sustained, why not install a water butt
Save water and save the roses

With water charges a reality, the decision to harvest rain water might be more carefully assessed as the system should result in a(...)

Acoustic panels can be made up very inexpensively by creating a timber frame, filling it with some form of quilt insulation and covering it with fabric
Securing quiet time at home

Whether it’s loud neighbours, traffic from outside or washing machines and televisions, noise pollution is a problem we can all re(...)

We turned a spare bedroom into a relaxing study with a wood-burning stove

The interior of this penthouse in Barcelona, Spain is an example of efficient use of a very compact space, offering comfort, form and function in equal measure

Micro apartments can work really well as living spaces – just make sure to choose the right kind of furniture and be smart with st(...)

A mix of plain and coloured cushions pick up the colours of the flowers outside to connect the living space with the garden

If you’re nervous about using colour in your house try a few of these tips

Under bed storage is ideal for  toys

Make it easy for children to organise their things and have at least one clutter-free zone

Making your exterior oasis just as cosy as your family room will ensure you get the most use out of the space

Try a few of these key elements to make your outdoors more colourful and comfortable

Before and after: a dull, cluttered room is transformed ...

Designs for your home need to adapt to changing needs

Before: A sittingroom with greys and whites looks  cold and unlived in

The people who are most unhappy in their houses are often those who chose things not because they loved them but because they were(...)

The calm room: warm greys and sandy tones with small flashes of colour

Sort It: a calm room is a good way to get away from busy living and dining areas

Thinking of a room as two spaces rather than one helps with decorating

Problematic rooms need a shift in thinking to open up new possibilites

Surrounding yourself with things you love is a great starting point to give your home a welcoming feel

Ask yourself what do you need in the room and what pieces do you really love

 Egg chair  designed by Arne Jacobsen in 1958

Scandinavian design is built on function that is rooted in craftsmanship and quality. It is something that is made to last

If you love the look of an L-shaped sofa but don’t quite have the space, a good alternative is to go for a standard shape and a matching footstool which will allow you to create the same arrangement
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Sitting pretty: choosing the sofa that works best for you

The kitchen before . . .
Sort it

Start the new year by detoxing your house

Before . . .
Sort it

Painting solid timber goes a long way to brightening a dark space

Sort It: stealing space

Creating a place to dry laundry from unused areas

Sort it

Give your home a new lease of life without spending a cent

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