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Transform Your Home: Overcoming Common Design Challenges

Designing your home whether you are renovating or refreshing a room is an exciting adventure, but it often comes with its fair share of challenges. And it is these unknown worries that tend to stop us from getting things done. So I thought it might be useful to talk through some of the common design challenges I face with clients regularly. Maybe it will resonate with you too?

The most frequently raised issues I see range from wanting to maximise space in your home; how to balance looks and functionality, concerns over how rooms work together, to getting that finished 'styled' look. And the biggest concern of all (quite rightly) is what about budget? However, by using a few key insider tips and strategies you can overcome these common design challenges and succeed in getting your space finished.

In this blog post, I’m going to share some practical solutions to some of the most prevalent design hurdles, which I hope in turn will let you transform your home into a space that truly reflects your style, meets your needs, and enhances your quality of life. We all deserve that home don’t we?

Maximising Storage Space

One of the most common challenges I hear is a lack of storage space. Whether that’s the feeling that you are always cluttered and disorganised with piles of belongings everywhere or you are hankering for a calm sanctuary but seem to have open shelves with life’s bits and pieces tumbling off. There's just never quite enough space for everything. Whether you're dealing with a small apartment or a large family home, finding adequate storage solutions can be a struggle. But storage is the key - it’s the starting point for all practical designs. There’s really no point having a beautiful home if you’ve got nowhere to put anything away is there? It would rather ruin the vibe.

Now first things first, and I don't mean to be a bore here but a good declutter is the best starting point to find more space. Try out my decluttering challenge for the month and see if that helps. But once you are down to the bare minimum (read 10 truckloads of stuff for you and your family) then it's time to look at your space with fresh eyes.

There are so many creative ways to make the most of storage space and minimise clutter. Think bespoke built-in cabinetry that maximises every inch of space and covers up wonky walls and awkward spaces. A basic MDF built and painted cupboard does not have to cost a fortune. Or if you are DIY inclined (or know someone who is) then think about Ikea hacks and framing some Ikea units so they fit flush and maximise the space. The joy of bespoke carpentry is that you can work out exactly what you need to store and then design your shelving around that. This example below was a purpose built run of wardrobes to fit the length of the new room, taking in the roof eaves and includes a dressing area with electrical sockets. As you can see work is still in progress but its going to be a gorgeous master suite.

Always think vertically with storage as very often there is lots of space that is not being considered and can be utilised. Or look at multifunctional furniture that can be moved and used for lots of different purposes from a console to occasional desk or a storage bench in the dining room for all the once a year serving dishes we just can’t throw away. And all those clever storage solutions such as under-bed storage, wall-mounted shelving, and hidden storage compartments. This image below is another built in storage piece for a client who wanted to ensure a streamlined space with plenty of storage but it was also designed to double up as extra seating when entertaining too. It's one of my favourites!

By utilising every inch of available space and thinking outside the box, you can create a more organised and functional home. If you want some help then please do ask as it’s my favourite kind of puzzle and living in a Victorian terrace has meant I am a master at squeezing in extra storage.

Balancing Beauty and Functionality

Another challenge I often hear clients worrying about is finding the right balance between aesthetics and functionality. While it's not essential for your home to look beautiful, it is really important that is practical and meet your everyday needs. Anything that makes our homes work harder for us and our lives easier is a win. But let’s be honest we all want our homes to do both don’t we? And they can.

When designing your space, you can prioritise functionality without compromising on style. Think about what how your furniture will be used in your home - are you 'let the kids jump on the sofa' types or are you 'shoes off at the door and wash your hands'? Either way think about the type of people you are. If you hate tidying up but want to be serene then invest in lots of storage, if you hate cleaning but have kids and animals then think about stain resistant fabrics and wipe clean materials. No judgement here - we all have our quirks and ways but it’s your home so you need to make it easy for yourself. So choose furniture and accessories that look good but also serve a purpose and enhance your daily life. Just be honest with yourself.

Incorporating Sustainable Design Practices

With an ever growing awareness of environmental issues, I am finding my clients are looking for ways to incorporate sustainable design practices into their homes. However, navigating the world of eco-friendly design can be daunting too. In fact that's a full blog on it's own one day.

To start to overcome this challenge, try making small changes that have a big impact, such as switching to energy-efficient appliances, using low-VOC paints and finishes, and incorporating recycled or reclaimed materials into your décor. The options are growing by the day for us to make sustainable choices. This years trends are lending themselves to using heritage furniture and craftmanship that lasts rather than throwaway products that won’t stand the test of time so you can embrace that with no guilt attached.

Before you buy just consider the provenance of the item. What is it made of? How sustainable is that? How far has it had to travel? For example bamboo grows fast and is a great alternative to more traditional woods, cork is seeing a resurgence as a floor covering with antibacterial properties and in the UK oak is still a great hardwood for crafted pieces that will last a lifetime. Avoid single use plastic and always look for recycled plastics within the product. In addition to recycled and renewable materials, avoid furniture made with toxic chemicals which can be found in some glues, solvents, and paints, and harmful materials such as chromium, which can be incredibly damaging to the environment due to the way it is mined and manufactured.

Creating Cohesive Design Schemes

Achieving a cohesive design scheme that flows seamlessly from room to room is another challenge I am asked to help with regularly (especially if you have diverse tastes and preferences in your household!). To overcome this challenge (and prevent divorces) I suggest starting by establishing a cohesive colour palette and design theme that ties your home together. If you imagine that colour palette appearing throughout the house (in greater or lesser degrees dependent on the room and mood you want to achieve). Then choose a few key elements, such as flooring or furniture styles, to serve as anchors for your design scheme. So aim to keep this similar in tone throughout and build upon them with complementary accents and accessories.

Think shots of burnt orange as your accent colour which can appear in cushions in your lounge, a wallpaper in a bedroom and statement lights in your dining room. Or rather than using colour you can incorporate repeating patterns, textures, and materials throughout your home to create visual continuity and harmony. For example if you have round wall lights then think a round mirror and a round shaped rug. Repetition echoes ensure that each space feels connected and cohesive.

Budgeting and Prioritising Design Decisions

Finally, budgeting and prioritising design decisions can be a significant challenge. Knowing where to spend and where to save for the best results and biggest impact is key.

Understanding what order to tackle jobs in will save money long terms, as will what you can short cut on without ruining the finished results. With so many options available, it's easy to get overwhelmed and overspend. So planning becomes your friend here.

To overcome this challenge, start by setting a realistic budget for your project and prioritising your design goals and objectives. Identify the areas of your home that are most important to you and allocate your budget accordingly. Consider investing in high-impact upgrades that will add value and functionality to your home, such as kitchen and bathroom renovations, before splurging on decorative accents and accessories. It can really pay to talk to a designer who has the expertise to help you make informed decisions and maximise your budget effectively. This is exactly why I offer one off consultation sessions as they can be a great way to cover off lots of questions and ideas and get a detailed plan of action in place to move forward confidently with.

Designing your home is an exciting journey (I know I said “ journey” forgive me!) but its full of opportunities for creativity and self-expression. While it may come with its fair share of challenges, mixing it up with some of these strategies and some expert guidance and getting the finished result you love is entirely achievable.

So maximize your storage spaces, balance looks and functionality, incorporate sustainability, think about how to make your home cohesive, and budget effectively. You’ll be able to transform your home into a space that reflects your style, meets your needs, and dare I say it, may even enhance your quality of life.

Remember, the key to overcoming common design challenges is to approach them with creativity, flexibility, and a willingness to cry for help (read: seek out expert advice) when needed. Be patient, persevere, and you’ll achieve the design of your dreams and create a space you'll love to call home for years to come.

Photo credits: Fritz Hansen, One Kind Design, Becky Owens, Noom, Mad About the House, Asha Singh, DeVOL, Zara, DEN LIFE interiors. Linen Me, Little Greene Paint, Blossom Home, ID Shoppe, SOTA affordable Art, Veronika Lazofykasa, Lynsey Hill Interiors, Elona Home, EST living, The English Panelling Co.

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