How to

7 expert design rules to get your renovation style right

You don’t have to be an interior designer to choose your home’s new look. Follow our 7 expert rules to help your renovation vision become reality

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7 expert design rules to get your renovation style right

The ultimate aim of most successful renovations is to produce an end result that seamlessly merges new additions with the existing interior. The goal generally is to create spaces that feel as if they’ve always been there and flow effortlessly into the rest of your home. (An alternative approach is to make a feature of the clash between old and new styles – but even in these cases it’s best to ensure unifying elements are used throughout.)

Besides setting a realistic budget (including a contingency of up to 20 percent extra for unforeseen circumstances), you can also help the process run smoothly by doing lots of research on materials, making a renovation timeline, and finding the right contractors for you.

1. Renovate with the future in mind

It’s easy to get hooked on the latest interior trends and include them all in your design, but being too swayed by fads can date your house quickly and limit its appeal when it’s time to sell. Renovations don’t come cheap, so it is best to design with the future in mind and make changes that will last for years to come.

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In saying that, if you stick to a classic base, adding some on-trend interior elements – such as pendant lights, tapware, or a tiled splashback – will create just enough of a contemporary edge to keep things fresh. If you limit yourself to just a few, these design elements can be relatively inexpensive to change as fashions, and your tastes, evolve.

2. Be consistent 

A good reno should unify the spaces in your home. We have all walked through houses where everything just seems to flow and feel right. This is because there is likely to be a common style or theme running throughout the interior.

Whether you are adding a new space or renovating an old one, creating unity and cohesion should be a priority. Take your time and have a good think about what you already have and what you want the room or rooms to look and feel like. Unity can be easily achieved by carefully choosing and balancing elements such as furniture, lighting, colour, texture and materials.

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3. Matching is worthwhile 

When extending your home or renovating existing spaces, ensure light switches, doors, handles, recessed lights and skirtings are the same throughout the house. This will help ensure the interior feels seamless and cohesive.

4. One focal point per room

The biggest mistake people often make when designing a room is including too many design elements in one space. A good rule of thumb is that a great room will have just one key focal point or feature. A room with no focal point will seem boring and sometimes cluttered.

You can turn a variety of design elements into a feature – from an eye-catching patterned rug, favourite artwork or gorgeous light, to an elegant fireplace or statement piece of furniture. Select your focal point and design your room around it.

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5. Same-same but different 

If you are renovating a bathroom, stick to the same palette of colours and materials you’ve used in the rest of the house. However, this doesn’t mean you should execute those elements in an identical fashion.

For example, your bathrooms might all have concrete-tiled floors and white wall tiles, but one bathroom could include a wooden feature wall, while another might have a wooden vanity, and the ensuite a wooden shelf and mirror. In this example, all the bathrooms include wooden elements which link them, but each room has its own individual character.

6. Limit your colour palette

When undertaking a renovation, most people take the opportunity to repaint the whole house so old and new spaces all coordinate. When deciding on your home’s interior colour palette, we suggest working with no more than three colours.

Of course, you’ll have tints, shades and tones of the colours to play with, so there are plenty of opportunities to add interest in the scheme and within rooms. You may want to consider starting with soft greys (the new white). Or if you opt for a stronger colour – navy, for example – ensure it is balanced with decorative items such as cushions, art or a rug.

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7. Use images to convey what you want

Save your contractors – and yourself – time and money by preparing some Pinterest boards or a scrapbook of images which illustrate the style you’re after. Don’t rely on your verbal explanation, and their interpretation of it, to get the results you want. 

Words by: Vanessa Nouwens. Photography by: Tom Hollow/Hollow Creative, Larnie Nicolson. Kate Claridge, Helen Bankers.

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