When you’re thinking about a renovation project a room, a barn, attic or garage you’ll hear plenty of advice that may put you off entirely. After all, there’s a lot to consider. With all five Canvas and Stone houses having completed more than their fare share of renovations of listed properties, we thought we’d ask them to share their most useful pieces of advice. None of them take the idea of renovation lightly. With its all consuming nature and the need to manage the project tightly, it is a very stressful experience. But with some thorough research, keeping on top of the project yourself and creating something you love, all that stress turns (in time!) into something truly satisfying and rewarding for years to come.
- It will always cost more than you think it will!
- Try not to deviate / change your mind from the plans as work is progressing – this is when the builder clocks up the extra ££££s.
- You will be surprised how quickly new bits will weather down and new hedges / borders will grow.
- Buy the best materials you can e.g. English oak, local stone, eco paints, lighting.
- Use recommended local craftsmen whenever possible.
- My advice is to bring the planners / listed building people in at the earliest possible moment – present a plan but ask their advice so they feel part of the project. Hopefully you then get off on the right foot and the journey will be smoother as a result.
- Look at exciting, contemporary design with daring twists, make the house feel relevant for your time and reflect you the current owners personality – have fun with it and breath life into it but not at the expense of all the things that give a period property its uniqueness, charm and history. Work at the fusion of the modern and old as this is where the magic happens.
- Advice that many people don’t agree with: Be prepared to change your mind as you go and let the interiors evolve – if you feel you have made a wrong decision, change it.
- Before you start, think through and specify every single element of the build and every detail down to the type of wall socket and switches you are going to fit, BEFORE builders are on site. This will firstly mean that you don’t go over budget, and secondly mean that there are no last minute panic decisions along the way, which can hold things up.
- Expect the unexpected! Particularly in the an old house. You may just be refurbishing a room and expect this to be simple, but consider that while doing this, you may find unexpected issues along the way. Is it worth redoing the plumbing or electrics under the floorboards while you are at it? It may be another 100 years before someone gets an opportunity again.
- Similar to the above, choose a builder you can trust and work out a sensible way to approach costs. There are bound to be extras and you don’t want to be penalised for this. If you can agree with a builder a fixed price for what you want to do and extras are at cost, this means you don’t get nasty shocks when you find you have something unexpected to do.
And fresh from a refurb at Wasing is Di Dugdale with a triple dose of advice:
- When looking for inspiration, follow the interior designers that you admire on Instagram. I prefer it to Pinterest but Pinterest is also a great place for inspiration.
- Antiques markets – go go go but with an idea of what you need in mind. And go with measurements! Lincoln is the best as it is the first stop for the dealers coming over from Europe.
- Take in to account light and what the space is used for in each room.
- If you have an incredible rug, start with that and then choose the wall colour, curtains etc…
- Be brave with wall paper – you won’t need to spend so much money on pictures!
- If all of the usual paint companies haven’t got quite the right colour, don’t settle… mix your own. Alternatively, get the advice from an expert who will advise you what the walls colours would have been when the house was originally built.
- Buy your kitchen cupboards and surfaces separately – they will look more original.
- Be brave and go dark on the walls – after months of searching I found the perfect dark green – Borough Market by Mylands.. it looks great with yellow curtains.
- Buy big indoor plants and trees – they make a huge different and improve the air.
- Spend good money on mirrors! Cheap ones look awful.
- Consider using washed linen – it is perfect for curtains and not too expensive.