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Refurbishment Rules: dot Your 'i' and Cross Your 't'

Posted: 28/09/11 16:08

Designing a home is a challenge and more than a few people have been brought to tears as a result of the process. To avoid headaches and heartache it is imperative that you start with a plan and stick to it. Interior design, especially when coupled with refurbishments, can throw up unexpected challenges so having a plan in place helps you stay on time and on budget.

Here are my rules when it comes to project management:

1) Write a brief
Designers respond to a brief so even if you are managing your project solo, writing a brief on what you want to achieve, timings and budgets helps to form the basis of the planning you do to achieve your goals. Writing things down on paper rather than carrying them in your head eases stress and allows you to think about other things.

2) Ask yourself some hard questions
A lot of times people don't really know what they are after so answering some simple questions about the space helps to focus the minds and remind you about the important element you need to think about in your space such as function, storage, equipment and flow. Here are a few I ask when it comes to bedrooms:
How much natural light is available and does that change seasonally?
How are you currently storing your clothes and is it working?
What furniture will you keep?
What are the plus/minus points of the room?

3) Set the budget
If there is one thing I always say it is be realistic with your budget and spend what you can. There is no sense planning a project you won't be able to finish because the funds have run out! Also, always have a bit of a contingency fund (I usually out aside 20%) because I know from years of experience that you should to expected the unexpected on every project and be prepared for it.

4) The essence of Style
When it comes to designing your space your inspiration will pull from many areas so keep things focused by looking at each of these elements in order: Fabrics, Furniture, Details, Star Pieces, Window Treatments, Floors/walls and Lighting.

5) Finding the right team
A lot of the people I work with have come through word of mouth recommendations. If you don't have recommendations from friends or family search online but ask to see the work of the contractors. Most are happy to share their work and those that don't want to should not be considered for your project.

6) On the Same Page
Structural changes need to be drawn up by experts and done to scale so anyone working in the space can refer to them. Make sure to date the plans and circulate them to all the tradespeople so they're all working from the current plans.

7) Be your own task master.
Managing your own projects means your life will be turned upside down to make sure your project runs smoothly. Draw up a detailed schedule of work and allow a few days grace between trades people. Double check all your delivery times and how they fit into your building work. Share the schedules and plans with all the parties on site but make sure you check in daily to see work is progressing. Pay on time and thank people...it is not in your interest to fall out with people you are relying on to complete your home!


8) Set the foundations.
I'm not talking about the structural elements but rather the plumbing and electrics that are sort of the 'underwear' of the home. By considering the functional basics and getting them in place you have a great basis from which to create the mood of your space. Lighting is crucial to a home and just like with architects I bring in the expert to make sure the job is done right. Lighting consultants know how to help you create the mood you want and educate you while transforming your space.

A home refurbishment is one of the most challenging things you can take on. Coming up with the design inspiration and elements is a fantastically creative process but you need to think beyond the mood board to make sure your project is a success. Diligence, planning and watching the bottom line are not what most people talk when it comes to design projects. They may be the least glamorous elements of a project but they are what help make your project a real success.

Watch me undertake 5 new design projects for 5 families in the UK on my new Series Superior Interiors with Kelly Hoppen Tuesdays at 8pm on Channel 5.

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