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How To Plan A Renovation Project

This time in our Guest Blog Series we invited the very talented Sara of @Houseobsessed to share her experiences of renovation projects. Read Sara's step by step guide to the perfect project!

As a serial home renovator-come-developer, I’ve got eight projects under my belt, with three more in the pipeline and have therefore managed to build up a lot of experience in how to plan a renovation. I’m delighted to have been asked to share some of my knowledge with you by the lovely folk at Rocket St George, so I thought I’d distil it down into a few top tips:


Sara Mungeam outside her home

Sara (@houseobsessed) outside her home in London.


  1. Start planning early

As you’ll see, early planning is probably my Number One recurring theme throughout. Make time your friend, not your enemy. Don’t leave things until the last minute as you’ll make panicked decisions, which result in lasting mistakes. Throughout your renovation, plan early and plan ahead.


How To Plan A Renovation Project


  1. Be honest about what help you need

Be honest with yourself about what you are capable of, happy with and have the time to do. Of course, the scale of the project, your desired ‘finish’ and your budget will come into this too. The right professionals can save you time and money in the long run. Think about whether you need to involve an architect / interior designer / garden designer / main contractor etc. and start researching who you like early on. Check out their work on their Instagrams and websites, meet with them to make sure there’s good chemistry. Once you’ve narrowed things down, check out one of their past projects in the flesh and get a couple of previous client references. These are obviously not decisions to be rushed as they will make or break your project.

Gorgeous & simple design in Sara's back bedroom. Image credit: Amy Miller


  1. Be clear on your brief

Whether you’re employing design professionals or going it alone, a clear brief will help you to create a strong foundation for your project.

As a starting point, think about what practical functions your home needs to deliver e.g. do you need a separate study, a utility, more storage, somewhere for the bikes, a space for kids’ toys…etc. Then, think about how you want to feel in each of the spaces e.g. do you want to have more of a connection with nature or to be cocooned and cosy?

Beautiful detailing with reeded glass and panelled walls in Sara's bathroom. Image credit: Amy Miller.


Start to gather images of the architectural and interior aesthetics that really appeal to you. Pinterest and Instagram are fantastic resources, as are magazines and interior/property TV shows. This can get overwhelming so give yourself time. You’ll find that after a while, a pattern emerges of the core looks or styles that you keep on coming back to.


If you then need extra inspiration around colour, your wardrobe is a good place to look. The chances are, if you enjoy wearing it, you’ll enjoy living in it! For example, is your wardrobe full of colour, pattern and embellishments, or more muted and monochrome?

How To Plan A Renovation Project


  1. Set yourself a budget

Be realistic about what you have to spend and think about what you can reasonably do yourself, as that could help the budget to go further. Also, if your budget is tight, try to minimise any structural changes. It’s easy to get carried away, but you / your architect can often come up with fantastic creative solutions working within your existing structure. Instagram is a great source for money-saving hacks too!

Kitchen Diner in the home of Sara Mungeam

Sara (@houseobsessed) has created a stunning open plan kitchen diner.


Set up a renovation spreadsheet early on and divide your budget into estimated pots, adding in the detail as quotes come in and you gather actual costs for fixtures and fittings. If you over or underspend on an area, you can shift your budget around. I always think that to make a renovation successful, you have to be part creative and part accountant. Or, you outsource the lot to someone else!


  1. Future-proof your lay-out

I spend a lot of time early on considering the flow and layout. Make use of free expert services and tools by visiting kitchen showrooms to work with their planners or e.g. Ikea to use their online kitchen and bathroom planner.


A big tip here is to think not only about your space and storage for the here and now but also what you’ll need in the future. Open-plan might work with young kids, but when they’re older, you’ll probably want to be able to separate spaces off. Flexible layouts will be your friend!


kitchen details


  1. The devil is in the detail

When it comes to the finer detail, I imagine myself walking through each room while thinking about all the practicalities and touch-points: Where the switches and sockets should be positioned, how the layout works, how the materials and finishes flow. I am by no means proficient in any design computer package (note to self, must learn Sketch Up!), but I draw out all the walls in elevation (as if I’m looking at them straight on) and the floor plan for each room, to figure out how everything with work in the space. Even down to what furniture will go where. It really helps to bring the space to life.


How To Plan A Renovation Project


  1. Planning the finishes

This can be one of the most daunting and time-consuming stages in any renovation. Flooring, tiles, bathrooms, kitchens, lighting and paint colour can become one big blur of indecision. As I said upfront, my tip would be to think about this early…even to gather ideas for the ‘type’ of finish, if not the actual product and supplier, when you’re pulling together your brief and mood-boards.


Instagram is then a great place to source suppliers and products. Follow around 50 interior accounts that are in keeping with your overall aesthetic, and you’ll find they often tag where things are from…you can then keep on adding these to a suppliers spreadsheet.

Open Plan Living

Sara's beautiful open plan living and kitchen area. Image credit: Amy Miller.


Visit showrooms for inspiration and to see products in the flesh and start ordering samples early - before you even start on site. Doing this early means you won’t be scrabbling around at the last minute, making ill-informed choices.


  1. What are your golden threads?

One final tip is to think about how your rooms connect and flow. This doesn’t have to be about repeating the same thing over and over. It could be touches of certain colour tones (not even the same colour) that scale up or down in different rooms, or other materials and textures that are repeated, such as grooved cabinetry, panelled walls, natural woods, brass or bronze finishes…and so on. These golden threads will make your home feel cohesive and well-designed.

Get The Look

Create some of Sara's style in your own home with our pick of Rockett St George items.

Get The Look Sara Mungeam

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