12 Jan Marc shares his ten top tips for taking on a renovation project
Contemplating a home extension or renovation project can be really overwhelming, even for a professional. That’s why I thought it would be a good idea to interview our designers about their experiences, having completed home renovation projects as professionals in the industry. First up, I spoke to Marc about his experiences…
Completing your own project, how does this differ to designing for others?
As a designer, I usually work collaboratively with the clients to make decisions. Ultimately, the client makes the final decision based on what will work best for them personally. Being the designer and the client for my own project, I felt like I was only thinking of ideas that I knew I loved (as I know the client – me – so well!) which made decision making difficult. It has made me appreciate collaboratively working with clients to offer suggestions and working together towards the one that works best for them. Tip one – collaborate! Don’t be afraid to offer your ideas and consider other approaches that you perhaps cannot visualise.
What has been your proudest moment during your project?
When my wife, who had previously only been able to trust my ability to visualise the space, started to understand the space as walls were removed. It was very satisfying when her faith in me paid off and to be able to use my skill for layout design to improve the way we use our home. Tip two – try to see the bigger picture!
What has been your biggest lesson?
This brings me to tip three – don’t underestimate the upheaval that even a small project will bring. Be prepared for lots of dust and difficulty when moving between rooms when the build is in full swing! The real lesson, though, is that it all becomes a distant memory very quickly when you start to reap the rewards of the completed project.
Is there anything you would do differently if you could have a do-over?
Not for my own project as we had lived in the house for over 3 years and I knew exactly how the new space would work. I do, however, have experience of wishing the previous owners of my home had added a dormer when converting the loft as this would have made a huge difference – this is our next project! Tip four – once you start, the need to improve won’t stop!
Will your personal experience impact/has this impacted on your work as a designer? If so, how?
You always take something away from every project. For example, my project introduced me to new solutions that I chose to use that I will recommend to clients in future designs. For example, plinth radiators in kitchens to allow more wall space for kitchen units, or sockets inside cupboards for charging wireless vacuums (or, in my case, to power a coffee machine that pulls out of a cupboard and can be hidden away when not in use!) Tip five – really try to imagine living in your new space before finalising some details.
How have you found living in your home whilst work has taken place?
Tip six – enjoy the journey! It hasn’t been too much of a problem as I knew what to expect, but for others it can be understandably stressful. The excitement of seeing things take shape and the potential being realised quickly becomes the main focus, though!
Do you have any advice on managing living in your home during a renovation?
Accept the upheaval! Yes, it can be difficult but the resulting new space would be impossible without it, so embrace it and grit your teeth during the challenging times (which often feel like they flashed past when you look back at it all!)
What is your favourite part of you new space?
Our exposed brick wall, without a doubt, which was a laborious effort by myself and my wife to remove the plaster and clean the brick with wire brushes and chemical cleaner before sealing it. Worth every painful minute! Tip seven – the effort you put in now will be worth it!
What do you get the most compliments on?
Our fully black kitchen, which people find an unusual colour for a kitchen. It’s from Ikea so it was extremely cost effective and offered the exact finish we wanted – black matte that would look great against the exposed original red brick.
Where did you look for inspiration?
I always read home improvement magazines – Build It and Homebuilding & Renovating are great to subscribe to if you want your own inspiration. There are always some great ideas being showcased in those. Tip eight – keep a scrapbook of images/ideas you like.
Would you recommend any particular products or companies?
I can’t fault Ikea for our kitchen. They offer an incredible range of space-saving solutions and all at an extremely affordable price. I also fully recommend track lighting as this offers flexibility in light fittings that simply clip into the track anywhere you want, so you can focus light on your favourite features.
How has your professional experience impacted on your renovation project?
I was able to order products myself – I’d recommend clients to do this too. It is very simple as well-known retailers offer products you can view and purchase yourself. Our glazed folding internal doors are from Wickes, for example. Tip nine- don’t be afraid to source your own materials/appliances.
Lastly, what helped you stay calm during what can be a very stressful time?
Knowing that the end result would improve our home lives massively! And also being able to close off the area where the work was taking place – tip ten – keep as many of your other rooms as normal and organised as possible during the build so that you can retreat to these rooms, close the door and forget about the build during stressful times.
We hope that you find this information helpful, at Acre Design Newcastle we are passionate about all things sustainable and innovative. We would love to discuss your project with you in detail.