Darren Palmer on Making Over a Room and Where Do I Start?
My simple make over instructions
1. The Brief
Whether your room be lacklustre, in the wrong spot or just plain wrong there is a systematic approach to improvements that will help you get from dull to whoa. Follow the instructions below that suit your challenge and you’ll be patting yourself on the back in no time.
What are you trying to achieve? You need to have a look at what your ideal outcome would be. We’re talking about if you could wave a magic wand and the room transformed with designer fairy dust giving you your perfect, I dream of genie style transformation. This is blue sky thinking, so imagine what your perfect room would be and then work out the details that allow you to get there.
Who will be using the room? You need to think about all stake holders, that’s your partner, your kids, yourself, your pets and even your guests. Think about what each of those individuals need and what the room needs to do to fulfil those needs.
What is your budget? Without a number you could go crazy at the mall and end up in a world of pain.
What is your timeframe? Without an end date things do tend to drag on and on so a definite end point is absolutely necessary. Aim to have all of your deliveries happen within a few days so you can get your room finished all at once ideally.
What are the absolute must’s and the definite must nots? Think about what you desire and what you’re moving away from.
What are the big problems? Light, flow, location, storage, proximity.. the list of challenges in your room are almost infinite and will vary from space to space. By making a list of all the things you don’t like or that don’t work in a room you will also get a list of design challenges you can find elegant solutions to. The room might be in the wrong place in the house, it might not have enough natural light, it might be too loud or located too close to another room. It might be too big, too small or have no character, style or focal point. Whatever the issue there are myriad solutions. If this problem solving part isn’t immediately your forte work with someone who thinks in a problem solving way. Designers and architects are problem solvers for a living and will often think of things that you might not have even considered as a possibility.
How do you want the room to feel? The mood of your room will inform your colour and materials palette. You need to think about how each of the stakeholders will feel when they enter the room and use it. Is it going to be fresh and lively or dark and sultry, playful, serene, formal or informal. All those directives will give you a different set of parameters from which you can build your scheme.
2. The Style
Just as a brief is a written guide you need to make sure your aesthetic direction has some definition and something to keep you moving toward your desired outcome. Visual reference is the key to this whether that be your own imaginings and sketches, drawings, paintings or renderings or looking to the work of others, inspiring homes, pinterest, real estate pages or magazines, books, websites or whatever it is that takes your fancy, find all the images that look the way you want your home to look. Gather all of these things in one place and then look at them all from a macro point of view.
Having a broad overview of all the reference should allow you to define commonality in the images as well as the things that might not quite belong. Filter out all the things that are nice but maybe not right for your current project and store those away for another day. What you should be left with will be a goo visual map for what type of furniture, tiles, tapware, cushions, wall coverings, paint, details and art so that when you’re considering making a purchase you can refer to both your written and visual bible, allowing you to make good decisions swiftly and with conviction.
Grab your wallet and just go buy stuff. Whatever you like just get it and hope it fits. That is absolutely what NOT to do but more often than not people shopping for their home will rush headlong into a store, fall hopeless in puppy love with “that” chair or “this” table without knowing whether “that” actually works with “this” or whether “that” + “this” is going to result in the outcome you’ve outlined in the brief and with your visual style reference.
Take a step back from your buying excitement and practice some delayed gratification. It’s wise to use your brief and style guide as a constant checking point to make sure you have outlined first what exactly you need to get for the room. Make a list of the things that you see in the examples of the spaces you want to emulate – notice the word emulate has been carefully chosen so as not to be mistaken for another word, copy (also known as plagiarise) – the list should be comprehensive outlining every detail from flooring, wallcoverings to accessories and light switches.
Once you know what type of things you need and how many of them will be required you then need to work out roughly how big each of those things needs to be. This is particularly important if you’re looking for large items like sofas as you need to make sure they fit in the room and are able to fit into the home, it through doorways, up staircases, into lifts and over balconies. Measuring everything including these critical openings will save you no end of grief when you go to install your space.
Finally with your super well informed list you can then start looking for pieces that will suit. That means looking for several options so that you have choice if the sofa doesn’t look right with the chair. You need to source each thing for the space before you purchase anything so that you can avoid buyer remorse after the fact. By looking at all the options that satisfy your brief and your style and making sure that everything works in harmony you are pretty much guaranteeing that when you go to put your space together you will have a great result.
4. Finishes and Building Works
Hopefully you organise all your purchases so that they all roughly arrive at the same time. The time between when you order and when things arrive should hopefully be enough for you to organise any improvements to the space that are necessary. It is wise to order things at the very beginning of an update as lead times for furniture can run up to 14-16 weeks, giving you a good amount of time to complete your room, solve your problems and clean up ready for installation of everything you’ve worked so hard to plan and find.
That means painting, carpeting, tiling, replacing lights, opening up doors, walls or windows or relocating spaces with the help of some talented building trade types. Note if you are doing building works you will need to check what bits are exempt from approval, what is compliant and what needs development approval according to your local council. Be sure to certify everything that needs approval so as not to run into issues with fine and delays due to your project being shut down. This is highly undesirable and will cause money and time to be wasted. Again, working with professionals that do renovation and building works will save you time and effort in the long run.
5. Put your room together
6. Clean the space
7. Stand back from your completed project
8. Pat yourself on the back
9. Enjoy a nice cuppa and invite all your friends around to see fruits of your labour.