Interior Design in The Home – Where to Start?

Buying a “fixer-upper” home is more popular than ever right now, however designing and decorating a home can seem daunting and unaffordable. We chat to architect and designer Denise O’Connor of Optimise Home in Dublin to learn about planning, budgeting and optimising your home to its full potential.

Planning your room or rooms before you start

What is usually the first piece of advice you share with clients when beginning a home renovation project?

Before starting any kind of home improvement project big or small, I encourage my clients to spend some time evaluating how they are currently using their home. This is to ensure that the work they decide to do will actually help improve their quality of life. 

A good idea is to use a tool like our weekly tracker workbook to track a typical week at home. Doing this helps to identify what’s working and what is causing stress so that it’s easier to decide you need more space and don’t end up with a large extension to the rear of the house that doesn’t actually improve anything. 

What questions do you ask a client to identify their needs and their style?

We ask our clients for a brief outline of what it is they are hoping to achieve from their home improvement. We also visit them at their home so that we can learn a little more about them and how they like to use and live in their home. This helps us to understand their style preferences. 

By identifying the reason why the house isn't functioning we have a clearer idea of where to focus the home improvements and where to invest the available budget. 

Where is the best place to start when beginning an interior design/refurbishment project?

Before you start, it’s really worth asking for some advice about how best to allocate your budget. Do, however, make sure it’s from someone who’s impartial, as family and friends may be too emotionally invested to help you make objective decisions.

Our Optimise Home service will advise clients where best to invest in their homes and will always endeavour to recommend ways to save money and keep the job within budget. We will also give you a plan to work with will give you the confidence you need to get started. 

Having a plan to work to is critical to the success of any home design project. 

Are you planning to start home improvements? Consider these items before starting.

Take inspiration for other homes

When decorating a home room by room, how would you recommend keeping an overall “flow” to the interiors / home decor throughout the house?

Your choice of paint colours is critical when trying to make rooms connect to each other. My advice would be to choose a variety of neutral shades together to create depth. When it comes to choosing your colour palette, try not to use too many. It’s best to limit your selection to 3 – 4 colours for your base tones, then you can build on this with accent colours in accessories and artwork. 

3-4 shades might not sound like a lot, but if you use too many colours your home will start to look cluttered and you’ll lose the flow between rooms. 

Can you tell us about a recent project you worked on that incorporated the advice you’ve shared above?

We recently completed a job for a client who felt that their home was too small and just not right for them. They had 2 young children and were really at a loss to see how to make the housework for them.

We looked carefully at how they were using their home and asked them to describe a typical day so we could see where the areas of concern were. We very quickly discovered that the main reason their home was not working was poor storage. The sitting room had been completely taken over with children’s toys and the children’s bedroom had no toys in it. 

There was a lot of space in the house that was hardly used and things were being stored in areas that they should not have been. We proposed to combine two small rooms to create a bedroom for the children that could accommodate their clothes and toys as well as create a play space for them to free up the sitting room making way for new storage units for things like books, TV equipment and family photos. 

What is your favourite type of project to work on?

I love all aspects of home design, helping people turn their house into a home is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. A well-designed home doesn’t just look great, but it can dramatically improve your quality of life. 

Very often with design and interiors the focus in on the aesthetic, whereas architects put the building first. At Optimise Home, we put the people first. 

Use your inspiration and start to make it a reality

Where do you take your inspiration from when creating a new plan for a room’s interior?

From all over really: travelling, film and trade shows. We try to get to at least two of the big furniture and interiors fairs in Europe each year. These are fantastic for keeping up to date with what’s happening in the world of interiors and for discovering new brands. 

Can interior design be affordable? 

Most Interior designers will offer a range of services to suit most budgets. Our Optimise Home interior design services start at €450 plus VAT. Speak to your designer about the options available and don’t be afraid to share how much you have to spend. It’s only when your designer understands what the budget is that they will be able to advise you properly.

Lastly, what do you think the next big interior design trend will be in 2020?

Green is always on trend. It's one of the most beautiful colours to work with for interiors and it's the easiest way to connect a space with the outdoors. Introduce some green accessories into your living space, and you instantly link the room with the garden beyond.  

Sage and eucalyptus are excellent choices for an up to date take on this versatile shade. The beauty of green is that you can layer varying shades together to create a striking scheme and combine different textures to add interest and contrast. Fresh greenery, foliage and plants add another dimension to this look.

Learn more about Optimise Home and their work here.

Decorating your home is a massive investment. Ensure your home and belongings are protected with a home and contents insurance policy from AIG. Are you a first-time buyer? Here’s our guide to home insurance.

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