Scrimping and saving is an essential part of the process leading up to building or renovating, but once you’re there, it’s important to add some stand-out finishes or features. It may involve a few glamour pieces – say, a dramatic pendant, or a designer coffee table – or an eco-friendly element that actually saves money down the track. These touches not only sum up your style, but they’re long-lasting, add value to the property and can make your life a little more enjoyable.
1. Striking tapware
A bathroom uses around half of the average home’s water, so it’s important to select water-saving mixers and showerheads when building or renovating. Apart from the practical and environmentally friendly aspects, take time to get the right style. It’s easy to be ‘safe’ and predictable but why not add mixer tapware that adds an attractive accent to the bathroom’s interior? Here, matt black elements make a strong statement without being gaudy or overstated. And for real continuity, the tapware range can be replicated in the kitchen and laundry.
2. Impressive front door
The front door sums up your style – after all, it’s the first thing guests see when they visit. Strangely enough, it’s often the last thing you think about when renovating. The good news is that it may be a one-day job – just do a quick paint job, add a stand-out handle, or clean the original stained-glass panels. Or, if you really want to make a statement, get advice from a designer or architect to turn your front door into a strong design element such as this pivoting door above.
3. Plush carpet
In the master bedroom, a little bit of luxe never goes astray. Thick, opulent carpet adds warmth and cosiness to the room, and for a long-lasting material, wool is an ideal option. It’s non-allergenic, stain repellent and soft to touch. It’s also considered kinder to the environment than synthetics, due to its sustainable origins and natural biodegradability. Most importantly, when you wake up in the morning and touch the ground, there’s nothing nicer than bare feet on thick, plush woollen carpet.
4. Glamour heating
When choosing the right heating system, it’s important to think about the aesthetics. A quality wood heater is a popular choice, but why not turn it into a sculptural element – so attractive, it looks perfect any season. Here, the carousel freestanding wood heater not only provides rich radiant heat, it also adds a Mad Men-esque appeal to the living room. In addition, its Saturn-inspired concrete surround works as a handy seat. Watch out when there’s a cold-weather fondue party – everyone will be fighting to sit there.
5. Solar heating
When you’re looking for a clean, green, renewable energy source, solar electricity fits the bill. Solar power is harnessed by adding solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roof. After the cells convert the sunlight into electricity, it can be used to run everything from lighting to household appliances. As a bonus, you can actually make money by using feed-in tariffs – this means that you sell your electricity back to the grid. While it’s not cheap to set up, it’s a financial winner down the track.
6. Ultimate storage
When it comes to storage, you can never have enough. The magical phrase – ‘walk-in’ – is always top of the list when designing a home. There’s no such thing as overdoing it; simply figure out how much you need, then add an extra third. This will keep your house mess-free for decades. If there’s no room to add a walk-in kitchen unit or bedroom robe, utilise other unused spaces – a redesign of the kitchen cabinetry can add plenty of extra storage space, and wall-mounted cabinets can be added into the likes of laundries and bathrooms.
7. Coffee table
Sculptural, innovative, organic … hang on, are we just talking about a simple coffee table? Yes! We all know how much time it takes to choose the ultimate sofa, but sometimes it’s exhausting sorting out a coffee table as well. After all, it’s small and not that significant. But hold on – it’s actually the centrepiece of the room, so it needs to be acknowledged and celebrated.
Of course, there are so many decisions, including the shape, material, size and price. Is it used to store books and knick-knacks or just to put your coffee mug down on before watching telly? Will the kids be jumping on it? After figuring out how you’ll use it, it’s time to be creative – make the coffee table a jewel of your living space. The room will love you for it!
8. Cutlery draws
Once a small unit in the kitchen, the cutlery drawer has become a real showpiece. In fact, dual drawers should be considered when updating or renovating a kitchen these days. This phenomenon is because there are more utensils on the market today than ever before, largely due to the fact that we like to entertain more.
In the olden days, the ‘good cutlery’ was only unpacked on Christmas Day, but now there are so many social occasions, cutlery and utensils need to be easily accessed. Another drawer can also be used as a well-organised ‘junk drawer’, so you’ll never again have a meltdown when looking for an obscure battery or a pack of birthday candles.
9. Stunning illumination
Downlights are unobtrusive and energy-efficient with a narrow beam spread, but a little bit of drama never goes astray when completing the lighting schedule. A glamorous pendant or crystal chandelier adds real impact to a space. When selecting, consider the style, materials and shapes used throughout the home’s interior.
If a pendant is positioned over a dining table, it’s important to bring the light down to shine on the table, not the people, as seen here in the ‘Branching’ pendant by Lindsey Adelman. Lighting above a dining table also needs to be just above your eye height when you’re seated, so you can look at your guests around the table without the light shining in your eyes.
10. Barbecue upgrade
Have you been using the same old wheeled barbie for years – or even decades? If that’s the case, it’s time to upgrade. Modern barbecues are completely integrated, making them functional and a little sexy; they are even built-in and function as part of an outdoor kitchen. It means that no-one has to race into the indoor kitchen to grab another beer – there’s a perfect bar fridge built in.
Your barbie cutlery and plates never get mixed up in the indoor kitchen drawer, and you can even pack away all the utensils and cleaning gear outside. To give the unit a sense of being used by a professional cook, the addition of a powerful rangehood will provide ideal ventilation – in other words, your nice white ceiling is never covered in brown stains.