By Holly Barry (@HJBarry)
Choosing to improve and not move is becoming a popular trend for people whose lifestyles are evolving. Whether your family is expanding or growing, you have a new home business or you just fancy a change of space, you can adapt your home accordingly.
In fact, the number of homeowners in the UK choosing invest in their existing property instead of moving has soared in the past five years. This is due to high property prices, the expense of stamp duty, a slow property market and uncertainties caused by Brexit.
Many are choosing to stay and invest in their property by employing architects and builders and taking on work such as open-plan kitchen extensions, trendy basements or the ever-popular loft conversion – however all of these cost a small fortune. Add on top of that additional insurance costs when carrying the work and rental costs if you have to move out (on top of your mortgage!) the final price will make you wince.
Here are some tips for converting your floor plan and making most of the space that you have without needing building work.
Creating a theme for your rooms can really make a space feel more upmarket, ordered and more focused. For example, if you have a large open floor plan, but you want to create different areas without building walls, you can do this by change of theme for each area.
Your environment affects your mood, and the mood of guests who enter the room, so it is important to choose a theme wisely. However, there are so many potential design choices – industrial, modern, shabby chic – that it’s a good idea to have a look around for inspiration to see what appeals to you before you buy.
Pinterest is very satisfying for finding inspiration online – packed with beautiful photography and the latest design. If you don’t have an account, set one up to refer back to.
Online and print design magazines are also useful for inspiration from the interior design experts. If you prefer the glossy pages of a print magazine to browsing online, you can cut out what you like and keep a scrapbook of ideas.
However, beware of going overboard on a theme – a few nautical items can tie in to a matching colour scheme beautifully – but buying items just because they have anchors and shells all over them and you are creating a collection rather than a relaxing space!
Group items on display
If you group items in varying heights, shapes and textures it can be visually appealing and stylish; for example, grouping all your photo frames on a shelf, dressing table or piano rather than scattering them everywhere. Alternatively, you could group together vases, artwork or cushions.
A top tip is to try grouping in an odd number – for example 3 vases. This is apparently more memorable and appealing than even-numbered groups as it is less uniform. Arrangements can really change the flow of a space.
Faux is in!
Today it is hard to distinguish what is real and what is not in interior design. If you are looking to change your floor space on a budget and wood floors appeal to you, then check out the latest vinyl floors that imitate a wood floor. Visually, you can’t tell the difference, and the synthetic material is maintenance free, easy to clean, and lasts longer (thereby conserving natural resources!).
By replacing carpet with wood flooring – real or not – you will instantly gain a feeling of more space – particularly if the area is open plan and so you can run the same colour wood throughout. Wooden floors will also change the acoustics of an internal space and that also adds to the feeling that you have extended the property.
Dark woods are on-trend this year, and so by adding dark wood flooring to your property you will instantly bring it up to date.
Plants are also in fashion (especially palms and tropical leaves) and by adding splashes of green across the room against the dark wood you will be creating a rich visual. There are some stunning plants and foliage on the market that look real, but have the benefit of zero maintenance!
Another big trend is the brick statement wall – how about putting bookshelf wallpaper on a feature wall. Alternatively, putting up trendy brick wallpaper saves the expense of uncovering an internal brick wall.
If you are lucky enough to have an artistic talent, or know someone who does, how about creating a wall mural? Or fake a wall mural with wallpaper? Take a look at these stunning examples – they are magnificent!
Find the focal point
The centre point is the core of a room’s layout – it anchors it. Your eyes will be naturally drawn to a room’s focal point, and without one, things can feel a bit chaotic and unbalanced. The focal point is often a fireplace, but can also be a window with a good view or a statement wall.
If you want to make a wall your focus, then you can do so be making it a different colour from the other walls. You can also add a large mirror, or group frames or artwork together to create a gallery.
The focal point doesn’t have to be the centre of the room or space itself. You can also create a focal point by ‘framing’ it with surrounding objects. For example, a sofa might not be placed at a centre point but you can put plants or tables at either side of the sofa and then artwork above it.
Think about essentialism rather than minimalism
Avoiding clutter can instantly add space to a floor plan without any expense at all. It’s not just about removing items, it’s about looking for places that look finished even when they are empty and considering the new empty area’s purpose.
In fact, you can actually make money this way by selling some of your preloved items on Ebay.
Design your floor plan for purpose, ease and efficiency and have things on display which makes you happy or brings comfort.
Set aside a dedicated space for quiet times, reflection, and reading – make sure the reading light is good and include a cosy throw
Make sure your bedroom is an area which is restful and encourages sleep
Choose soothing colours throughout your home
Learn about lighting
There are a number of reasons for lighting – practical purpose, ambient and accent lighting. Make sure that the kitchen lighting and reading/ working lighting is available in the first instance. Then you can consider the mood and feeling you want to create in certain rooms.
Bright light is not only practical but will make a room appear bigger, especially if the light is reflecting off white walls. Then accents can be added if you want some artwork to be highlighted as a focal point for example. Separate areas and ‘rooms’ can be created with the addition of lamps, or a change in lighting.
It’s amazing what you can do with your existing floor plan with some creative thinking. By re-organising your floor plan you can improve the flow of the space that you have and increase the value of your property.