House renovations are a great way to create your perfect home. However, where do you start when you have no experience? We spoke to Charlotte Simpson, the interior-genius behind the Instagram account @interior_bug. With no renovation experience and juggling it alongside her full-time job, Charlotte began renovating her 1900s Victorian property in 2018. Here she shares her top tips for first-time renovators.
“Set a budget. We didn’t but should have as we spent way too much money. It’s hard to set a target when you’re starting out as you don’t know how much things will cost, but my advice is to at least try to give yourself a ballpark figure to work with” says Charlotte.
It may be useful to break down your budget into sections by room and prioritise what jobs are most important. Think carefully about what you can afford, rather than how much you would like to spend and consider what things you do yourself to save on costs.
“Research everything, especially who you should hire for certain jobs. A tradesman that fits wood burners probably isn’t the best guy to also tile the fire surround – we found that out the hard way” Charlotte says.
Research is key, especially if you’re renovating for the first time. It’s important not to rush into decisions, even small ones. Read books, blogs and talk to people who have done it before. The internet is a wonderful place with a wealth of knowledge so take advantage of it.
Charlotte’s living room floor was created using reclaimed floorboards from a school
“Always get a handful of quotes and don’t just go for the cheapest. We have done some of the same jobs up to three times because of bad tradespeople, so the price probably would have cost the same in the long run” says Charlotte.
It’s often worth investing in permanent fixtures like insulation, flooring and windows that are more difficult to change once the renovation is complete. Also, be honest with what jobs you can’t complete yourself and set aside some budget for this. Shop around as much as possible and read reviews and recommendations before committing.
“You can get some amazing vintage and reclaimed finds if you shop around, which are often better quality. My favourite places to shop are Etsy, Vinterior, Facebook Marketplace and flea markets” adds Charlotte.
Shop for vintage and reclaimed homeware where you can. Not only is this cost-effective, but it’s also good for the environment. Upcycling furniture is also a great way to create something unique that nobody else will have and allows you to let out your inner creativity.
Charlotte found this vintage chair on eBay and upcycled it to create a statement piece
“I am a perfectionist and my partner is a graphic designer which isn’t ideal as homeowners of a house built in the 1900s. Things are wonky, cracks appear and nothing is perfect, but you have to learn to accept it or it will drive you crazy” says Charlotte.
Accept that no matter how hard you try, nothing will ever be perfect. It’s common to get caught up with the details when renovating, but try not to let it take over. Imperfections are what give a home it’s quirks so embrace these rather than trying to make everything look picture perfect.
“If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry. It’s definitely tough at times but one thing that helped me was keeping a renovation diary so that when things got tough, I could look back and see how much progress had been made” Charlotte says.
Embrace the whole process and enjoy it as much as you can. Be prepared that nothing will run as smoothly as you anticipated, but accept this as part of the journey. Ultimately, house renovations should be exciting so savour every moment and make it as fun as possible.
Follow @interior_bug on Instagram for more tips and inspiration.