Your architect will have planned out the space and layout of the house; however, most people find visualising rooms at this stage difficult, so you are effectively in the hands of the architect. Based on their experience, they will instinctively map out WCs, basins, baths, showers and sinks for you in their plans. This is generally the accepted starting point for a build, but at this stage some thought to each room’s lighting, controls and placement for plumbing is crucial, otherwise trades may fall back on traditional first fix positioning, limiting your choices when it comes to furnishing and accessorising rooms.
Mid to high-level hotels continue to be the inspiration for UK bathrooms. Traditional floorstanding WCs, with pedestal basins, or semi-recessed basins and back-to-wall pans on a single furniture unit, are finally being replaced with wall-hung WCs, countertop basins on wall-hung furniture and illuminated mirrors with integral storage. A favourite in Europe for decades, the UK’s developers and consumers are becoming increasingly confident with wall-hung options which are space-saving, make cleaning easier and really add the wow factor you’re looking for. Obstacles like floor-fed plumbing works can be avoided in the planning stage if you have already considered the type of sanitaryware and furniture you want in the bathroom.
Bedrooms and walk-in robes
J&S House of Design’s experience shows that ladies are going to look for ways to incorporate a walk-in robe into any self-build or renovation, it seems to be on every woman’s ultimate wish list. This obviously needs to be looked into at the planning stage. Where a walk-in is not an option, fitted wardrobes in bedrooms not only make the most of the space, but can incorporate entertainment systems and floor-to-ceiling storage hidden behind full length mirrors.
Besides the need for adequate wardrobes and drawers, whether fitted or not, additional furniture in the bedroom can be kept to a minimal, a bed with a statement headboard for visual impact and small bedside tables are really all that is required; the rest depends on size and taste, for example TV stands, chaise longues and ottomans. Formal elements like dressing tables and stools are now generally incorporated into en-suites or accommodated in the walk-in robe.
Kitchens – the heart of the home
Your kitchen really is the heart of the home and current trends are to keep them open-plan, adjoining a dining or family room. The most common mistake when designing or furnishing a kitchen is that you base your choices on what you have had before or grown-up with. These influences, although helpful, can distract from what designing a kitchen should really be about, which is the way it will be used and how it fits in with the rest of the house.
You need to ask yourself questions on how the kitchen will be used in terms of the styles of cooking, entertaining and social factors. On top of that are the practical aspects of storage and accessibility; do you have mega bowls you need to store? Is your mobility limited? Will you be able to reach everything? From the answers to these questions you can start to build a picture of the kitchen you need, and explore the possibilities of furniture and accessories. Do you need an island for additional storage, or so you are not staring at the wall while preparing food? Do you need a breakfast bar so people can sit out of your way while you’re cooking or clearing up? Do you want to be on your knees searching through cupboards, when a system of large drawers will effortlessly slide their contents out to you? What you have always known shouldn’t be the starting point for choosing your furniture and accessories in the kitchen.
The current trend for LED lighting adds ambience and will illuminate crockery collections and cooking areas, but is another element best considered at the planning stage. It is not until you really think about how you use the kitchen that you’ll realise you might like these elements.
Of course, all choices of furniture and accessories depend on your aspirations and budgets, but by thinking about them in the early stages of a self-build you can save space and money in the planning. Thinking about how you use each room in the house will give you insight into the right layouts and the right furniture. For example, your architect may have placed a kitchen sink in front of a small window, but if you spend time washing and preparing food you’ll want a sink that enables you to face your guests or family. Don’t be frightened to embrace wall-hung furniture in the bathroom for its contemporary design and space-saving options, and ensure first fix plumbing is positioned correctly. There is no need to clutter the bedroom when either a walk-in robe, larger en-suite or fitted wardrobes are possible; use a headboard to make the design statement.
By thinking of furnishings at the planning stages you can really innovate with design, incorporate technology and entertainment systems and enjoy the spaces you create by adding your personal accessories and additional pieces to complete and enhance your home.