In light of all that's been happening recently, many of us have been spending more time at home and with this, thoughts may have turned to changing a few things around the house or the garden. It's something we've been mulling over and a redesign is looking highly likely as we spend more time using and looking at the garden.
If you are not sure about what you want to do, how to do it, or any idea of cost then it's worthwhile getting in some professional help in from an interior designer or garden designer. As with most things, a professional will be able to look at your project objectively and offer you options that you may not have thought about yourself - they also have access to a wide range of suppliers, manufacturers and tradespeople that will be able to make the most of your budget.
The role of an interior designer
The role of an interior designer can be multi-faceted - acting not only as your designer and advisor, they can also act as project manager to oversee any contractors and tradesmen involved in the project. They can help in the procurement of products as well as planning, installation and finishing of the materials chosen. Interior designers cover a wide range of projects - from a simple room makeover to complete refurbishment of both domestic and commercial buildings, so you need to do your research to find a designer most suited to your needs.
A good starting point is to read through the helpful information on the professional websites for interior designers. The British Institute of Interior Design (BIID) is the only professional institute for interior designers in the UK. For those wishing to find an interior designer or to confirm the credibility of a potential interior designer they offer a directory of our Registered Interior Designers.
The Society of British International Interior Design (SBID) - they are a professional body registered in the UK to regulate and promote the interior design profession for their members. Their site explains the role of designers and the differing ways in which you can engage with them.
What can a designer cost?
There are three common ways interior designers charge for their services...
1) A fixed fee
2) An hourly/day rate
3) Percentage of spend
Clear and regular communication between yourself and the designer is key to avoid misunderstandings and unexpected costs.
As with many projects that may seem simple and straight forward, things can happen, so it's wise to allow a contingency in your budget for the job. Always ensure you have everything set out in writing before proceeding with a project.
Cost-effective investment - it may seem like an unnecessary expense, but employing a professional who can 'think outside the box' should lead to a more creative, cost-effective result!
Reworking your home...
If you've found yourself working from home - be that an enforced, temporary measure or it's something you're considering adopting for the future then it's important to be able to designate a space that you can keep separate from the rest of your life. Caroline Palk of Ashton House Design in Devon has a few key pointers to help you create a home workspace.
If you don't have a study then try to designate a separate work space – ideally not one end of the dining table, so that you don’t just end up working all the time - it's important if you're working from home that you can switch off from time to time.
Get creative - take a look around your home and see if there's a space that can be re-purposed.
Reinvent a dressing table, an alcove, a study area, an under stairs area, a guest bedroom or a landing area. Look to harness a hitherto uncaptured outlook with a neat desk solution for one.
If you're creating a workspace in a room that you're also going to be spending a lot of your leisure time in, then look at ways of adding flexibility - perhaps by adding wheels/castors to
furniture so that the space can be adapted/adjusted to differing needs throughout the day. Curtains or a stand-alone screen are a simple and effective ways of 'closing the office' for the
Add some inspiration - create your own 'view' - pick a favourite image and frame it - a picture from a previous trip or somewhere you would like to go in the future - and then change it regularly.
Furniture choices - if you're looking to buy new furniture to create your home-working space then consider whether you'll carry on using it once you no longer need to work from home.
A desk, comfy chair and a light are all the basics you really need and it may be that you can invest in a console table that will work well as a desk and it can then be moved to a more permanent home in the hallway.
Task lighting - if you're not situated next to/in front of a window then use some task lighting to illuminate your work area - even in summer, overcast days need help! Place task lighting behind your screen to avoid glare.
Storage - whether you're looking to use your workspace for work on a laptop/computer or you're going to use it to explore your creative side, ensure you have ample storage to store things away when you’re not using them.
Turning up the heat...
With the environment and energy use becoming so much more important when making changes to our home, a professional insight on the new options available is very helpful. One interesting development we were made aware of recently when considering heating in the kitchen was infrared heaters which are more energy efficient, greener and smarter than traditional heaters. They require no water, no gas and no maintenance, making them a smart choice to consider. They're also great if you're living in rented accommodation and looking for an additional economical heat source - they can be plugged into an existing socket and the simple installation means they can easily be removed if you move.
Jigsaw Infrared design and manufacture their products here in the UK too - so you're not racking up the air miles sourcing products which are made abroad which is also an important choice if you're looking to more eco-friendly living. Their heating panels are available in both glass and aluminium options. The simple glass panels look like a minimalist work or art and the mirrored versions are perfect for bathrooms and hallways where you already have a mirror – so why not replace it to make it multi-functioning to save on space?
The ultra-slimline aluminium panels are available in several sizes and have been designed to fit into a suspended ceiling so you don't even notice they are there. You can also customise your panels as the finish can be matched to any RAL colour, so you could choose the same colour as your walls or ceiling or go for a complementary colour to make them a feature. And for something truly unique, Jigsaw Infrared can also print an image of your choice onto the panel so that you have a unique piece of art that also serves as a heater!
If you're looking to make more use of your outdoor spaces then heating them or garden rooms - whether you use them as a home office, as a craft room or a space for relaxing - can be tricky. Traditional heaters heat the air - which means if there's a breeze blowing then you're constantly having that warmed air blown away. Because infrared heating works like the rays of the sun it heats the people and objects in its path - so you feel the benefit.
These slim patio heaters are suitable for using outdoors as well as in - they can be mounted onto walls and ceilings - outdoors you can mount them onto a pergola or outside wall to direct the heat to your seating area.
It's not always about making a major change, sometimes starting with the little things can lead to making a big difference. Taking a little time to look after and treat yourself can really help - and that doesn't mean going to the fridge and treating yourself to a glass of a wine and a catering size bag of crisps! Use a shower gel or bubble bath that you really love the smell of - rather than using whatever's cheapest at the supermarket, 'upgrade' to something a bit more special and it will feel like a treat every day and will help to raise your spirits. Use those special pampering toiletries or fragranced candles that you've been saving for best - treat yourself to some indulgent 'me' time once a week. And the same goes for the 'best' china and glasses stashed away in the cupboard - use them now and then and really appreciate them!
Take up a hobby - focusing on something other than work or home chores - can really help.
Buy yourself some flowers or a plant to bring a bit of nature indoors.
Try your hand at something creative - craft, drawing/painting, photography or baking (as you can eat the results!)
If you're looking to make one simple change...
Smell the roses - or the sea!
Mindfulness is one of the recent buzz words and can seem to be somewhat intimidating - people think you have to sit cross-legged on the floor and go into a trance for 20 minutes but it's much easier than that and something we can all achieve. It's about appreciating the moment - if you're in the countryside or by the beach then focus on that and what's going on around you. Think about the sounds, the colours, the smells that you're currently - not the hundreds of other things that are vying for attention in your head - and you'll start to notice there's more to life!