2020 is quickly shaping up to be the year many of us are spending more time than usual looking at the same four walls and learning to embrace life as a homebody. It makes sense that you’re noticing where your home is beginning to feel outdated, or needs a functional upgrade. Perhaps it’s time to add a dedicated home office or a separate (soundproofed) space for the kids.

So you want to renovate, but are wondering how to plan the interior design of your house. Whether it’s a cosmetic upgrade or a major project, it can be overwhelming knowing where to begin.

This checklist will put you in a good place to begin planning and bringing your ideas to reality.

Create a moodboard of your interior design style

For many, this is the fun bit – pulling together all your favourite interior design styles. Whether you prefer the old-school, tangible magazines and scissors approach, or a digital option like Pinterestor Houzz, make a collection of the styled-spaces, finishes, materials, furniture and colours that appeal to you the most. Even abstract home interior design ideas can be invaluable. Start broad, then narrow it down – this will help you to see the links in your preferences.

Not everyone is going to design their renovation around their new fabric sofa – but we’ll certainly applaud you if you do!

Don’t feel restricted by what’s actually possible at this stage. You can still draw inspiration from even the most unrealistic references. Use your moodboard to narrow down your ideas into a brief to discuss with your contractors. Make sure to note functional features like storage or lighting.

home renovation living room

Set a budget and get quotes

Or get quotes and then set a budget. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation – a larger budget can create more scope, while a smaller budget can force some creative thinking. Whichever end of the spectrum you fall on, you should expect to refine your budget after speaking with your tradespeople. Be realistic about what your project will cost, and what you can comfortably afford.

It’s always a good idea to add a buffer, no matter what your budget. Between 10-20% is a typical amount to account for so you’re ready to cover unexpected costs.

You’ll need to account for materials and the time of your contractors and suppliers. As well as builders, electricians and plumbers, you might consider architects and interior designers in your budget. Don’t forget to account for any extra furniture and décor to really complete your renovation!

Using your moodboard, you might like to nominate which elements are your ‘must-haves’, and which are your ‘nice-to-haves’ if you need to stretch your budget further. If renovating multiple rooms or your entire home, consider whether you intend to do the whole house at once or stagger the renovations to ease the burden on your finances.

living room renovation

Get to know your local Development Control Plan

Ask your local council for the Development Control Plan (DCP) that’s relevant to your area. This outlines what you are and aren’t allowed to do – altering the façade, adding an extension or additional storey, etc. Being across the DCP from the beginning saves heartache when you realise you would never receive a planning permit for your vision.

Know when to engage an architect or draftsperson

First things first, it’s important to understand the difference between an architect and a draftsperson (sometimes also known as a building designer). While their services and skillsets overlap in many ways, their differences can have a huge impact on your renovation designs and project costs.

An architect has seven years of training and stringent annual requirements to meet to retain their professional registration. A draftsperson will typically have two years of training. They both create the technical designs that satisfy the needs of both council planning offices and the tradespeople bringing your renovation to life.

However, there’s a time and place for both professionals. The size and complexity of your project is the most important deciding factor: overdesigning a straightforward renovation won’t necessarily make for a better end result… just a higher end cost. In fact, a good architect will tell you when they aren’t the most suitable option for your project.

An architect may also act as a project manager, coordinating paperwork with your council and working closely with your tradespeople.

wooden dining table and blue chairs

Know when to engage a builder

When it comes to renovations, some of us can’t go past a nice DIY. But engaging a builder is usually a good idea because they will ensure everything is completed to strict building codes and standards.

Choosing a builder is a task steeped in horror stories, but you don’t need to assume the worst. Seek out recommendations wherever you can – friends, family, and local Facebook groups are a great place to start. Checking online reviews like Google can be eye-opening too.

Many architects and builders have long lasting professional relationships and work especially well together – if you have a preferred supplier of either service, it can definitely pay off to ask for their recommendation!

Once you’ve narrowed down a few options, take a look at their folio – this might be online, or available by request. Look for a builder who works well in the style you’re envisioning – compare like for like.

Gather details about prices and timeframes, and feel free to interview your builder. Prices typically won’t be shockingly different between builders. But asking about their services can reveal differences in quality, philosophy and processes that might appeal to you. Cheapest isn’t always best, so endeavor to understand as much as you can.

It’s also helpful to understand how your builder and architect will work together, and who will be your main point of contact.

Ready to get started?

Now is an opportune time to start planning a home renovation – and we’re here to help make this year the one where your home becomes the one of your dreams!