Too often, however, these goals come head to head with our shorter-term needs… like getting a roof over our heads.
Stylist Catherine Heraghy has learnt a lot from her epic 12-week renovation. Picture: Lucas Muro
We sat down with Catherine Heraghy, interior stylist and owner of boutique styling company, The Stables, to find out how she kept her future plans in sight – while managing two renovations, two dogs, one toddler and her business, all in just 12 weeks!
These are the lessons she learnt.
Pace your spending
Overspending in the first few months of your renovation is going to put you in financial strife later on – so pacing your spend is crucial.
“From a financial point of view, you want to go at a slow pace,” Catherine explains.
“You don’t want to come out the end of the renovation in trouble.”
Catherine’s reno spend was paced over 12 weeks, but most renovations run for months so it becomes more tempting to stray from the budget.
Build in a contingency
During renovations it’s essential to prepare for the unexpected. Picture: Lucas Muro
Budgets and timelines can both be thrown out of whack when the unexpected happens.
“My husband’s job security was unexpectedly put into risk at the very beginning of our build, and it’s only just getting sorted now,” Catherine tells.
“It was pretty awful and we definitely didn’t anticipate it.”
Her advice? Build in a buffer – and then some.
“Even with the build, there were things Neil [Hipwell, Catherine’s builder] didn’t anticipate. We had lots of problems with plumbing and stormwater where additional excavation had to take place – $5,000 here, $10,000 there, it all adds up.”
Consider your lifestyle
When building your forever home, consider behaviours that are particular to your lifestyle.
How do I like to do my laundry? How do I want my kids to play in the space? These types of questions are important if you’re planning to stay in the property for years to come.
“Tailor the interior to suit your needs and the way your family behaves,” Catherine suggests.
“For example, I knew we were going to have a two-storey house. So if I’m upstairs getting ready, it would be hard to keep an eye on my toddler, Hudson. So I designed a walk-in-wardrobe with a TV so I could coax him upstairs while I’m in there getting ready.”
Think about new family members
Think about who might be joining the family when planning your renovation. Picture: Lucas Muro
New additions to the family – on two legs or four – can drastically change how your home works for your needs.
“We’ve got Angus and Hamish, our two dogs. Did I change any of my finishes to suit them? No. We decided they were going to have to adjust their behaviours to suit the new home – no dogs on the couch!”
However, you may want to adjust plans to suit pets; think a dark sofa or carpet for dark-haired dogs.
Will you be working from home?
As inner-city living becomes more unaffordable, especially on Australia’s eastern seaboard, more people are living further away from their CBD offices, commuting less and working from home more frequently.
Catherine’s hallway office was a no brainer – now she can show off her work firsthand. Picture: Lucas Muro
Work-life balance is important, so if working from home will give you more time back in your day, it needs to be a consideration in your renovation.
“Once upon a time I had a whole studio to myself which was really luxurious and amazing,” Catherine says.
“But I’ve had to sacrifice that to have a bigger house. So we compromised and built my office into the hallway.
“It’s actually really great to bring clients here because they can see my work first-hand. It’s built a whole new level of trust in my brand.”
Factor in smart technology early on
Smart wiring and electrical will need to roughed in at the early stages of a reno. Picture: Lucas Muro
In just 12 weeks, Catherine’s renovations moved too quickly for smart technology – it really needs to planned from the outset.
“We thought about smart lights, security and sound – but not enough planning went into it,” she says.
“Because electrical gets roughed in at the very early stages [of a renovation], when the framework is happening and before the Gyprock goes in, you need to have it ordered and contracted well in advance.”
Always use your imagination
Catherine prides herself in her ability to visualise a project in its early stages, surrounded by rubble on a building site.
After all, as an interior stylist, it’s her job. For us less creative souls, this can be a bit more difficult.
So how can we get better at using our imaginations – to help plan a future-proof renovation?
“If you do struggle with visualising, try to use as many different cues as possible to help you along: Visual cues, such as samples; physical cues, like marking tape on the floor; and voice cues, that’s talking it out, brainstorming and getting other peoples’ opinions. It’s a combination of all these things.”