3 questions to ask yourself when planning a renovation project *

Over on Instagram it was unanimously decided that it would be interesting for me to write a blog about my own house and the steps we are taking to make it our home. Today’s post is the start of that process – my goal will be to keep a record of our renovations, as well as providing you with useful information, tips, and ideas to consider as you start or move ahead with any interiors projects yourself.  

To be clear, we have not started any of the ‘official’ stuff yet, these are just my visual manifestations (in written format!), and this particular blog will cover questions and details to ask yourself at the beginning of a design project, that will help you get the best out of the process.

A bit of history

Original 1970’s sales particulars imagery.

A collector of many things, my mum has had the original sales particulars filed away from the time they purchased the house!

If you sign up to my newsletter already, then this will be old news… My family and I have recently completed on the purchase of our new (old) home! It is the home that I grew up in and the house my mum has called her home for over 45 years. To give you a bit of history, we are now the owners of a 17th century farmhouse surrounded by fields in the Norfolk countryside. My parents bought the property as a project back in 1975 for a mere £6000 (probably a fair price back then). They lived as close to self-sufficiency as they could whilst they worked and saved to rebuild this derelict house and create their family home. Back then I grew up with goats, pigs, bees and a big vegetable patch where they grew their own organic produce to feed us – my dad even self built the Granny annexe that my mum lives in today! There is no more self sufficiency here, my daughter grows her own strawberries and a few carrots and potatoes – but we certainly do not have the same energy levels as they did back in the seventies and eighties!

Since we moved in, there has been the usual boring jobs that needed to be resolved immediately, replacing the boiler, sorting some electrical work and repairing leaky corners in the roof.  A lot of things have grown old over the years since my parents moved in, but our main focus since we have been here, has been trying to make the house feel like it is our own and not the house I grew up in. Of course, bringing in our furniture and personal belongings has made it feel more like our own, however, I am a firm believer that houses should be lived in before rushing into anything drastic. For me, tasks such as painting for the sake of it are a waste of time as well as precious funds that can put to better use in the long run. With that in mind, there is still a lot of yellow paint and a fairly dated, coastal themed bathroom that will be rectified somewhere in the not-too-distant future.

How does your space currently function and what is it missing?

It is actually the kitchen that we are keen to give the most attention to straight away. Although it is in pretty good shape with handmade, light ash wood shaker cabinets and a beautifully exposed brick wall as well as the original ‘parlour’ brick flooring, the room just doesn’t function as well as it could do.

As with all interior design projects that I work on, (my husband and) I have identified the problem areas in the kitchen; the things that need to be resolved to make the space function better for us as a family. These key areas of focus are where the design process for the improvements will start from.

Key details identified for change in the kitchen:

1.     Improve the layout.

2.     Increase functionality.

3.     Increase light flow.

4.     Build more links to the outside.

Kitchen when we moved in.

Old houses are renowned for being dark with small windows, and this one is no different – we knew that when we came – however there are ways we can increase the light. The kitchen has the addition of a small extension that is currently used as a dining area; this space, being a newer addition is the perfect location to bring in light from above. Rooflights are an unobtrusive way to let daylight flood in and for us it will not affect the historical part of the house, instead we aim to create a clearly defined line between what is original and what has been added in more recent years.

Visual links from the inside to the garden are currently missing. As an old farmhouse we benefit from having a beautiful walled cottage garden, however from the house there are no links that join the spaces up. To me it feels odd that you cannot enjoy and appreciate this beautiful space from the room that is closest to it. There has been a lot of discussions for what is best – should we build a garden room on the side? Or maybe a crittall style conservatory? However, the truth this we do not need any extra space, instead we need what we already have, to function better. Instead of extending, which for us, is not money well spent, we plan replace a wall it with structural glazing. The sun rises from the garden direction so we will benefit from additional light flow during the morning as well as opening the view up to enjoy the garden views.

Create a feeling

A visual representation of how the room will feel. Welcoming, calming and modern.

How do you intend to use the space and who will be using it?

The layout for the kitchen worked when it was just my mum and her partner, but now with us as a family of four, there is more required to make the space function for us all and to keep the flow usable around the room. By working on the layout and hopefully removing one small wall, we can change the orientation of the kitchen and increase the useable space making the room function better for preparing food, for entertaining in and giving us a space to appreciate the garden in from the inside.

How do you want the space to feel?

Finding out ‘how you want a space to feel’ is a more valuable question to ask yourself than ‘how you want a space to look’. The answers from this question help to form part of a profile that can be built upon to enable a designer, or yourself to think outside the box; to look in more depth at who you are and enable the creation of a bespoke interior that really suits you and your lifestyle.

For us, we want our home to feel welcoming, calming and modern. I always want our home to feel like our family lives here and for my children’s personalities to show up as much as my own. To me that means having their creations and collections on display as well as making sure that the space is easy for them to use as they grow closer to adulthood. I want them to feel free to use the kitchen; for them to start to cooking for themselves (I know… I’m feeling hopeful), without the space being too precious and that it is unwelcoming for the sake of staying pristine. Improving the function of the space will inevitably help to create a kitchen that works for us all and will ultimately help to create an overall feeling of calm, a place to sit and ponder whilst eating breakfast or preparing food for guests.

If you know anything about me already, you will be sure to know that I love ‘fusion interiors’ mixing old and new and creating visual coherence with the space in-between. By using materials that are smooth, with clean lines and simplified shapes I want to build a feeling of harmony; contrasting the more natural shapes that come from the old building such as the ceiling beams, timber framing and the uneven wall surfaces will be balanced with a new simplified aesthetic coming from the kitchen cabinetry and joinery. The plan is to use muted shades of blue, green, and rust – a colour palette that I have designed to reflect the agricultural surroundings and reflect the countryside that is on our doorstep back to the inside. Of course, not wanting to forget my love of bold colour I also want to introduce pops of colour where appropriate. These brighter colours will be used to highlight key components of the space – a bright orange ‘range’ style cooker (one day) is a nod to an older style farmhouse kitchen, whilst brining in contrast through a modern colour.

I will be working through extra research to enable us to bring out our design personality whilst also creating a long-lasting design that does not compromise or take away from the historical integrity of the building.  


More info.

If you need help with an interior project for your home or business. Please have a look at our find out more page or get in touch via the contact us page. Alternatively email me: sadie@whitespacehome.co.uk and book a free 15 minute call.

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