When it comes to renovation works, I feel like we’re finally in a place to be able to give advice. We’ve recently completed our second home renovated – as much as you can ever call any home ‘complete’! – and we’re even contemplating taking on a new challenge. But what’s worked well and what hasn’t? From laminate flooring to the highly popular bi-fold doors, here are five things that we feel are definitely worth investing in when you’re undertaking a home renovation. What would you add?
One of my favourite parts of our home extension is the laminate flooring. With two young children and a dog, laminate provides the perfect floor covering for the main part of our family living space. It’s easy to clean (which is ideal for around the dining area with weaning babies and small children) and wears wonderfully. Thanks to an open plan layout in our home, we wanted something that could pull together the hallway through to the kitchen and dining areas – with some wood effect laminate flooring we’ve also been able to create a feeling of space by running the planks lengthwise as you walk in. It’s more cost-effective (and better in a kitchen environment) than wood, simpler to clean and more hard-wearing than carpet and is available in a huge range of colours and styles. I’d opt for it again and again in the downstairs of any home renovation!
There’s nothing quite like walking across a warm floor on crisp winter mornings to cool autumnal nights. Having installed underfloor heating in our extension, I often regret not making the effort to put it in throughout the downstairs whilst we had the chance. Underfloor heating may seem like an expense but it’s a worthy one in my opinion. There are no radiators to have to work around or account for when putting furniture in the room and the heat is far more effective as it’s spread throughout the space. The only downside? There’s nowhere to dry your wet laundry!
Whilst I’m on heating, I can’t not mention our smart thermostat. I’ll be honest, I couldn’t see the initial appeal of it but I was overruled and frankly, I’m glad I was. Whether you opt for one that runs both water and heating, or just heating, it’s a great way to help reduce your heating costs and impact on the environment. Ours links to our phones to understand when we’re out of the house and automatically turns the heating off – saving wasted heat. Alongside that it’ll work with your adjustments that you make, to create a heating timetable that exactly matches your needs. Best of all you can open up the system when you’re on your way home and turn the heating on so that the house is warm for your arrival. No more coming home from holiday to a cold house.
If you’re planning renovation works on the downstairs of your house then it’s highly likely that you’ve considered bi-fold doors. But are they worth it? As part of our work we installed a large six-panel set of bi-fold doors allowing us to entirely open one wall. It’s fair to say that the number of times we’ve had the full six panels open is pretty tiny, but when we do, it’s incredible. I also love the flexibility of being able to open different combinations depending on the weather and what we’re doing. With young children running in and out it gives a great flow between the garden and the living space, making it seem like one space, something that’s perfect for family life, entertaining or just enjoying the outdoors from the comfort of inside. There are some drawbacks; finding coverings for them can be tricky and it can make you feel exposed of an evening, especially if you live in an area where you may be overlooked. But for us, that’s entirely worth it for the feeling of making the garden another room in our home.
If you’re re-doing your kitchen space then it’s certainly worth considering an induction hob. Induction hobs create a small oscillating magnetic field which induce an electrical current in a pan when placed on top of it. As such, the hobs heat the pan rather than the hob surface. Induction hobs tend to be more expensive and there’s an additional expense of needing to use cooking pans that are suitable for use on induction surfaces. However, there are many benefits. As the heat is created via energy transfer, you’re not wasting heat during the process: all energy is passed into the pan. Additionally, as you’re heating up the pan rather than the hob surface itself, you create a highly efficient system meaning that the pans heat up quickly and the surface cools quickly once out of use. Finally, if you’re used to using a gas stove, then you’ll find induction just as powerful and responsive, without the associated risks of having a gas line into the house.