"We have a young family and a chaotic home which needs refurbishment and reorganising. We are driven mad with advice from various sides! How can we decide what's best to do with our home?"
It can be hard to stand back and assess your home when you have a young family and you are bombarded with advice from all sides.
The best thing to do is to find a quiet moment and sit down with a pen and some blank paper.
Use the headings of Space, Light and Storage to begin to understand how your house works at present and how you want it to work in the future.
At this stage, think about issues, not solutions. The best solutions come from a good understanding of the issues.
Bear in mind also how your needs might change as your family moves from one life stage to the next in the future.
When thinking about Space, issues to consider include how each room is used and laid out, as well as how the rooms relate to one another and to the outside.
Ask whether each room is being used to its full potential.
The location of the kitchen is central to how a home works. Where you are planning to fit new units, take the opportunity to explore not only new layouts but also possible alternative locations for the kitchen itself.
With regards to Light, think how you can best exploit the natural light of the sun as it moves around the house during the day. Structural alterations can have a profound effect on lighting, from opening up between rooms to creating larger windows and doors to the outside.
The choice of furnishings and finishes are also important, as well as how you organise each room.
Good Storage is essential to a well-functioning home, so seize the opportunity to make sure all your needs are identified and met in the best possible way.
Think about how each person uses the house and the storage needs that arise along the way, from a place for their coat at the front door to a spot for their toothbrush at night.
Once you have an overall vision for your home, revisit each room again in terms of space, light and storage.
Plan the work for each room methodically, from floors, walls and ceilings to lighting and furnishings.
Your architect is well-placed to assist you in the task of realising the full potential of your home and in achieving a home that fits like a glove. You can find a Registered Architect on www.riai.ie
Eva Byrne, is an RIAI-registered architect and founder of houseology, residential design consultancy, www.houseology.ie