5 Steps to Planning a Successful Renovation (or Decoration!) | Vellum Interiors | Sydney Interior Designer and Decorator

4 June, 2019

5 Steps to Planning a Successful Renovation (or Decoration!)

Many clients come to me because they know that they want their home to be beautiful and functional. Because they want to walk in the door and feel instantly at ease, surrounded by an environment that exactly captures “them”. But have you ever felt like, even though you want these things, you just don’t even know where to begin in pulling it all together?


How to plan a renovation or decoration: Whether you’re a DIY’er planning to undertake the design and project management yourself, or if your pulling in experts (like us!), having an overall plan for your renovation or decoration, with your thoughts organised, will keep you on track! This system can help whether you’re doing a kitchen renovation, a bathroom renovation, redecorating your living room or your whole house. 

So, here is my 5-Step process for planning your renovation:


An interior design drawings package with fabric and stone samples

Creating a vision or moodboard for your design project will save you time, keep you on track and make decision-making much easier.


1. Create a Vision

This is a really important step, and will act as your ‘North Star’ in terms of what you want your home to look and feel like, and will help you make decisions along the way. And it’s the fun part, too!

To create your vision, start by deciding how you want to feel when you walk through your front door. Do you want to feel energised, relaxed, cosy, at ease? Make a list with all of these emotive words. Once you’ve decided on the overall mood for your home, you can drill down into each room as well.

Then, pull some inspiration images. If you enjoy being online, Instagram and Pinterest are great places to start looking. A good trick on Instagram is to use the Search tool to find images of certain spaces and styles — try “#coastalhome” or “#whitebathroom” for example. If you’re more of a tactile person, go through some magazines and tear out any images that appeal to you. After a while, you’ll see you’ve got a pile of images that have some thread of correlation between them that will show you the style you’re after.

You don’t have to limit yourself to just interior design magazines, either. I find travel and fashion magazines and even food magazines great sources of inspiration, especially in terms of the way the images there make me feel! (luxurious, relaxed, happy, for example)

You can also look at your current home and possessions to create your vision. Do you have any favourite pieces of artwork or clothing, for example? These can all act as pieces of inspiration.

Once you’ve got a good idea of the look and feel you’re after, move onto the next step — creating your wishlist.


A deck area with built-in storage and a table setting on Sydney's Northern Beaches

Writing a wishlist of everything you want will help you prioritise. In this project, the clients opted for more outdoor storage, rather than a built-in outdoor kitchen to make best use of the deck area for their lifestyle.


2. Write a master list

This step is all about dreaming big! My advice here is to just get absolutely everything you want down on paper. Don’t limit yourself because you think you can’t have marble in your bathroom, for example. Write down absolutely everything you’d like to change or add in your home. This exercise is another great way to figure out what you want and what you don’t want, and what’s nice to have but not that important to you.

Your list could include things like:

    • A new kitchen with a butlers pantry
    • Underfloor heating
    • An organised wardrobe that fits all of my clothes, neatly
    • A new sofa and rug
    • A double shower head in the ensuite
    • An outdoor kitchen
A deep blue lounge room with custom bookshelves and a fireplace

Deciding on a deadline or timeframe will keep your project on track. In this project, the clients needed to have these rooms complete by July, so they could enjoy them in the winter months.


3. Decide on a timeframe

The one thing I find myself explaining to clients over and over again is that good design takes time! Depending on the scope you’re undertaking, I would give yourself 4 + months to complete a project. And that’s a small one. This is a fairly slow-moving industry and lead times for finishes and furniture, or getting on the wait list for the designer, architect or builder you want to work with will add to that time. And generally they’re worth waiting for, especially if this home is your ‘forever’ home.

In saying that, my advice is to pick a deadline. Often people say to me that their deadline is “by Christmas”. This is generally fine, as long as you’ve told me that before July (not kidding!). August to December every year is the busiest time for anyone in the building, design and furniture business, so keep this in mind and plan accordingly.

If you want to complete the work outside of that busy period, pick a realistic deadline that will motivate you to get things done. Planning a big party, or having relatives stay over can be great events to keep things on track.


A living room overlooking the ocean in Sydney

Decide on your budget, and if it won’t cover your wishlist, consider doing your project in stages, like these clients did.


4. Decide on a budget

This is a tricky one! As I’ve learnt from my experience planning a wedding, if you’ve never done something before, you will often have no idea what it will cost you. In saying that, my advice is to come up with a number that feels comfortable to you, that you can afford and that will allow you to have the level of spec you’re after. Adding in a 10-15% buffer is always a good idea too.

For more info on planning a budget for your renovation or decoration project, read about what it costs to hire an interior designer here.


How to plan a renovation or decoration project

Being aligned with your key people will make decision-making easier and help things run more smoothly.


5. Discuss with your key people!

Super important — after you’ve worked through Steps 1-4, discuss your plans for your renovation or decoration project all with your key people. Your key people include your husband / partner, but also your designer, architect, builder etc. because they will give you a better result if you’re all on the same page.

Your key people can also help you refine your plan, and even add in new ideas and different perspectives.

So, those the 5 steps on how to plan a renovation or decorating project again are: 

  1. Create a vision
  2. Make a wishlist
  3. Pick a deadline
  4. Define the budget
  5. Get your key people on board!



I hope this has been helpful to you. If this has struck a chord, or if you’d like more help, please get in touch here.

Or, to find out about how we can help you create your dream home, click here.


1 Comment

  1. Pingback: How to Agree With Your Partner on the Style of Your Home | Vellum Interiors | Sydney Interior Designer and Decorator

Share your thoughts...

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share this article
@ vellum_interiors