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Ten projects to tackle in 2012

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Written by Andrew Dunning of APD Interiors
Read APD Interiors' blog here - www.apdinteriors.com

1 - Kitchen

If you have been living for too long with an outdated kitchen make this the year that you replace it. However before you start to get carried away by kitchens in glossy magazines you should decide on a realistic budget. The many elements of a kitchen can soon add up and you may have to comprise on some decisions. Start by measuring your room and then you can use an online planner to start to get some initial ideas and prices. Many kitchen showrooms will also provide free planning.

Give serious thought into your requirements, how much cupboard space do you really need? If your budget is tight consider using cheaper flat pack carcasses and spend your money on the appliances and other fittings. Faux Corian worktops are now available to give a luxury look for half the price of a solid surface worktop. However if after planning you realise your budget will be stretched too much, consider just replacing the doors to give you a new kitchen look for very little spend.

2 - Bathroom

A beautiful bathroom is near the top of most homeowners wish lists. However onerous the task of replacing your bathroom might seem it doesn’t have to be that way with careful planning. Begin by thinking about what you really want from your bathroom? Do you want a beautiful minimalist wet room or is your requirement a good quality family bathroom. When choosing your fittings do remember that you probably won’t redo it for many years. Don’t be tempted by fittings that are too fashionable – you will soon tire of a bright red basin however great it looks in a showroom. Also don’t be tempted by very cheap products – they won’t last and are just a false economy. Start by measuring the room, choose the fixtures and fittings you like and you can then calculate the cost – a bathroom designer will help you with this. Don’t forget to price everything or the new bathroom could cost way more than expected!

3 - Extend your home

Start to plan your extension now and you could be enjoying the extra space when Summer arrives. Due to changes in the planning regulations you do not always need to apply to the local council for planning permission to extend your home. However the Permitted Developments rules can be complicated so seek advice from your council first, and if your home is Listed or in a Conservation Area different rules will apply.

Once you have established if planning permission is needed you should draw up some plans of your proposal. An architect or interior design firm can do this for you. These plans are essential before you start any work so the builder knows exactly what they are building. Your designer will be able to assist you with specifying every aspect of your build – you will be amazed at just how many decisions you need to make. Many people also use the designer to project manage the building, and for a successful build I would highly recommend this!

4 - Decorate exterior of house + gutting

Exterior decoration is an often neglected aspect of home maintenance. However as these elements of your home can be exposed to harsh weather conditions it is essential that you regularly maintain them. Spring is a good time to do this once the air is less damp and the days longer. If you have wooden window frames that need painting plan the work over a number of weekends to ensure you do not get fed up when half way through! The key to a good finish on any decoration project is the preparation. The frames will need to be rubbed down and prepared before you start any repainting. Ensure any holes are correctly filled and also check that there is no evidence of damp.

When you are ready for the final top coat make sure you use exterior paint - this paint is designed for longevity in all weathers and should always be used for exterior woodwork. Also remember that you should regularly maintain the gutting of your home. At roof level the gutters often become full of debris and grass can start to grow. If this is not removed any rainwater will fall down the exterior of your home and could lead to damp problems.

5 - Refurbish your windows

Many UK homes have Victorian Sash Windows while the remainder will have a variation on a casement style window.

Sash Windows are lovely but they do let in a lot of air around the edges (approx. 6 sq cms on a badly fitting one).  In addition the majority are single glazed.  These two issues are very easy to fix at little cost to yourself and is a DIY job over a weekend.  The gaps themselves can be fixed by the installation of brush strips.  If you look at your window you will see that there is a strip  of wood running around the edge of the inner window (the one facing the house) this is the retaining bead, and between the windows is the parting bead.  These need to be removed and replaced with ones with brush strips.  Search the web for “Sash window repair kits” and you will find what you need.  The glazing can be removed carefully and replaced with “slimline” double glazing panels with no damage to the window itself , thus retaining its beauty.  Don’t forget if you change the glazing you will need to change the weights, again the sash window repair kit will help.

Casement style windows can either be replaced in their entirety with sealed double glazing units, (please use wood frames and not plastic as it ALWAYS looks better, regardless of what the salesman tells you.) or refurbished.   Search the web for a trade joinery company and ask them to make some up for you,  much cheaper than a double glazing company.  Alternatively you can seal the gaps in your windows by removing the hinged part and with a sharp plane and chisel reshape the window (if wood) to fit properly again and install a seal.  Again you can replace single pane glass with glazed panels over a weekend yourself.

6 - Add a master bedroom ensuite

Adding a bathroom to your bedroom to create a master suite is a reasonably easy task if you have sufficient room. If your home currently only has one bathroom that is used by all the family an ensuite allows you to create space just for your use. The new bathroom could become a spa like room for you to escape the pressures of modern life!

Unless the available room is very large it is often best to install only a shower in this room, especially if the main bathroom already has a bath. You will then need to choose a basin and a WC, and allow for adequate storage. Providing adequate storage is essential if you are hoping to create a new calm bathroom. Wall hung furniture is also a good option if the new bathroom will be small as the room visually appears larger. Choosing simple tiles to complete the look wile ensure that the new room doesn’t look crowded and adds a very valuable room to your home.

7 - Landscape your garden

With inside space often at a premium, especially if you live in a city, you should ensure you make the most of any exterior space available. If you start to plan your exterior space now you can plant it up in the Spring and have a wonderful space to enjoy this Summer. When planning your garden consider your lifestyle and how you want to use the garden. If you have little time and want a garden for entertaining a large patio and low maintenance landscaping will be important. However if you want to spend time tending the garden you can choose different plants and maybe even include a lawn.

If your plans are simple you can easily take inspiration from other gardens and design it yourself. Plan and build your hard landscaping first and then supplement with the plants. Remember to consider the aspect and the soil type of your garden when choosing plants to ensure they flourish – and once you are done remember to water them!

8 - Renew or renovate your flooring

Over the last 10 years many homes have had carpet removed and wooden flooring laid.   This has totally changed the character of our homes, but floors have moved on from when this trend first started and are now better quality.  In addition a floor laid a few years ago will have begun to look tired.  Laying a new floor or resurfacing the existing one will breath new life into your home and is an easy task to be carried out.

If you decide to relay a floor, try to avoid the cheaper end of the flooring market, paying a bit more for your floor will make such a difference to the end result, cheap laminate floors always look like cheap laminate floors regardless of how well laid.  If relaying the floor, search the web for DIY tips on how to do this as the tricks of the trade make this job so much easier.  Try to buy flooring that interclicks as this will facilitate easy laying.  If your flooring is just tongue and groove, hire a floor nailer for the duration as this will ensure the floor is nailed down properly and will not move.

Resurfacing a floor is an easy task and can be done by any DIY’r.  First sand the floor using a hired sand machine, starting with rough grade and then moving up to very fine grade gradually will the floor is totally smooth.  Hoover the floor to get all the dust off, then in accordance with the manufacturers instructions apply a sealant using a roller designed for applying floor sealant.  The results will amaze you.

9 - Convert your loft

If you have a good sized loft space this is often the best choice for increasing the space in your home without moving. Before you plan anything ask an architect or Interior Designer to review your loft to establish the potential.  Do not just go to a local builder, loft conversions are complicated structurally and need careful planning. The available head height will be one of the major deciding factors to proceeding with a conversion. If you can’t get the required head height the space may be unusable but more importantly will not meet building regulations. A simple conversion can often be done under Permitted Development but if you want to change the roof line or shape you will need planning permission.

Once the potential has been proved you can think about what you want to use the space for – a kids playroom/den or maybe a new master bedroom suite? Both of these options would require a proper staircase so can this be achieved? If you just want additional storage you may be able to do a basic conversion to provide extra space? Plan every aspect before you start and your loft conversion should be a painless process.

10 - Plan a new colour scheme for your home

One of the easiest ways to refresh your home is to plan a new colour scheme. Recently the trend has been to move away from a very neutral palate and introduce more colour into our homes. If you are still living in a very neutral 90s home grab yourself a colour wheel and plan a more exciting scheme for your home.

Adding a feature wall is one easy way to add colour, especially if you are not feeling brave enough to go full on with colour. It also allows you to easily the redo the wall if you want to change the colour. Your chosen colour scheme will depend on your style – you could add colour in a wild and wacky random way, or maybe your style is more towards a neutral base with splashes of bold dominant colours around your home. If your budget is tight you could just add colour through the accessories. The high street now carries a great range of soft furnishings – and the low prices also mean they can easily be changed when you tire of this year’s colours and want to update the look.

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