Denise O’Connor - Architect, MD & Founder Optimise Design.
Denise is the Founder and MD of Optimise Design, an award-winning Architecture and Interior design company based in Dublin 2. You might also know Denise as one of the presenters on Design Doctors on RTE. There’s nothing she doesn’t know about transforming your house into your dream home.
As a member of Savvi Credit Union, you can take out a personal loan for all sorts of reasons, even Home Improvements. Borrow to transform your patio into the perfect BBQ haven, upgrade your kitchen area or even make those ‘savvi’ investments into your home if you plan to put it on the market over the coming year. We’re happy to offer you advice on home improvement loans to suit you at any time, just call us on 01 6325100 or visit Savvi.ie for more information.
Whether it’s a small bathroom renovation or a complete house refurbishment and extension there is a sequence of steps to follow to ensure everything goes to plan. It might be tempting to rush out and start buying tiles because they’re on sale or a sofa that you’ve had your eye on for a while. You should wait until your layouts are finalised and you’re completely sure about what you’re doing otherwise you could find yourself trying to work your design around something you wish you hadn’t spent money on.
It’s very easy to design a home to suit your immediate needs, especially where small children are involved. Lots of open plan spaces might seem like a great idea when your children are toddlers. However, your needs will change as your children grow so it’s really important that you try to look into the future and design some flexibility into your home. The layout should work equally well when those little toddlers grow into teenagers. Having a separate den or sitting area is a good idea for families. You might never use it when children are small but once they get older you could find yourself spending a lot of time there. It’s not uncommon now for couples in their 40’s who are renovating to plan some form of ground floor space that could be adapted to a bedroom in the future. This kind of forward-thinking will mean your home will only need minor if any adjustment as your needs changes over time.
When renovating try to put sentimentality aside. Just because something has always been there doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a good reason to keep it. Similarly, designing around how you currently use your home won’t lead to a well-functioning layout. You need to start with your brief and build a solution from there. You need to look at what you are trying to achieve and plan the best way to get there. This is where hiring a professional to help can be a good idea as they will have an impartial view of your home and be able to advise how best to achieve the results you’re looking for.
It’s really important that you set a realistic budget and that you are prepared to make trade-offs along the way. It’s very easy to get carried away and try to include everything on your wish list, but you could find yourself in trouble very quickly. It’s really important to keep the budget to the front of your mind when making decisions.
Prepare a budget before you start work and put aside sufficient contingency funds to cover unexpected expenses, for example, discovering damp or structural issues. Be open about your budget with your architect, designer or contractor. They will help you to modify the scope of works to align with the amount you have to spend. An experienced team will be able to help you to compromise in a way that means you get maximum value and return for your budget. Being budget conscious from the start is far better than running out of money halfway through a project. In my experience regardless of how much clients have to spend, compromises always need to be made.
I can’t stress the importance of this one enough. You should have everything chosen and agreed before your builder starts on site. That way you know what everything costs and you have everything ready when the builder needs it, avoiding the need to have to make on-the-spot decisions. It’s also really important that you do some research before you start. Spend some time online and looking at magazines to build up a collection of images for inspiration. Not only will this help you to understand what you like and dislike but it will be a fantastic way to communicate your ideas to your architect, designer or contractor, and to any suppliers that you may be using.