Key things to keep in mind while renovating your kitchen space.

Due to the simple fact that building or renovating a house gets more expensive over time, functional spaces, kitchens especially, have started to follow the ‘maximising utility with minimum space’ concept. If you are constructing or renovating your new home and find yourself fighting for space, a modular kitchen might be your best bet. The furnishing you choose for your kitchen plays a very important role, its design is essential for creating an uncluttered, spacious and functional home. There are lots of models out on the market for modular kitchens currently, but if you are looking to create your dream kitchen, you need to be able to decide on the perfect one for you.

Apart from opting for kitchen furnishing that is resistant to wear and tear there are more factors you might not have considered.

Read on to find out what makes a kitchen perfectly suited to modern working homes.

kitchen-renovation-AKKA

Deltastraat, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Designed by AKKA Architects

1. Storage

The first and foremost thing to keep in mind whilst constructing your dream kitchen is to maximise storage and accessibility. All your utensils and equipment should be within reach and yet all your workspaces should be uncluttered. Designing a kitchen with efficient storage solutions will give you maximum use of every space possible. In particular try to utilise the space above your countertops, these improve your kitchens’ storage capacity, ensuring you have enough space to use the kitchen freely and with ease. There is a wide variety of fixtures you could go for to achieve this, including drawers, shelves, wall mounted units and base units. You could even add a blend of open and closed cabinets, shelves, and drawers. Another potential option is to install ceiling mounted racks, these could be used to hang herbs, flowerpots, or other utensils.

2. Aesthetics and customisation

When choosing the storage options for your kitchen, opt for sleek and functional designs that maximise every bit of space available in your kitchen. Making this a priority will result in a properly functional kitchen in which there is a room for everything, without making it look overcrowded or cluttered. The range of options available on the market is huge, with modular storage available in a wide variety of themes, shapes, sizes and colours. Opting for a modular kitchen would give you freedom to customize your design whilst not compromising on durability. It is as important that your kitchen’s design suits you as it is that it is functional.

kitchen-example-AKKA

Smitstraat, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Designed by AKKA Architects

3. Convenience

For many people, the kitchen is the space where they could be spending a lot of their time at home. This is why convenience is a primary factor that needs to be considered while designing your kitchen. It should be constructed specifically to be able to adapt to any needs you might have for your space. Modular kitchens could very well be your go-to as they offer sleek and convenient solutions to maximise your space, especially in this day and age where space is often lacking. Their excellent storage options make them a very smart choice when it comes to convenience and organisation. Modular kitchens provide more than enough storage capacity for items like cooking utensils, cutlery, and containers. Avoiding clutter around your kitchen makes surfaces considerably easier to clean on a daily basis. Sleek clear surfaces are not only aesthetically appealing but also offer more comfortable maintenance. Opting for a modular kitchen could help you save time, money, and effort whilst also providing comfort and, of course, style. 

4. Ease of installation

Opt for furniture that combines ease with accessibility. Choose that which can be readily adjusted or disassembled and then easily put together again, these features are beneficial in case of maintenance or when wanting to shift things up in your kitchen. Your furniture should be practical in design, the putting together of the components should be doable if and when required. Opt for furniture that unites convenience, usability, storage, and aesthetics.

Finally, when choosing your kitchen components, opt for a mix of different fixtures and units. Wall mounted units work well in smaller kitchens, maximizing the amount of room available as it utilizes vertical spaces. They allow for easy accessibility and visibility. Base units can be used to store heavier kitchen items under your work surfaces, making good use of the leftover spaces as well. You can even opt for pull out cabinets which is especially effective at the corners of your kitchen spaces. These utilise the negative space that otherwise might have been hard to make use of, a perfect space to store jars and such. Make sure that whatever units you opt for, they are made of durable materials. The kitchen after all, is a space where a great deal of the action in the home takes place.

In addition to the benefits mentioned in the article, opting for kitchen designs that reduce clutter will increase the value of your house due to their flexibility and to being cost effective! Choose those which allow you to customize and personalize, are easy to assemble, easy to use, and lets you alter their design as per your requirements. Pre-fabricated modules can be even more beneficial as they often reduce the transport and installation costs. Looking to change up your kitchen or design a new one, why not opt for a flexible modern modular kitchen?

If you are considering renovating your existing kitchen space or planning on building a new kitchen altogether, and you need help to design one or you simply a second opinion, get in touch with us! We would be happy to help with any questions you may have.

The perfect indoor plant for your home and you.

If like us, you have been spending most of your time at home over the past year, you may be looking to change things around a bit, or you may be searching for inspiration around your house to help you feel different and revitalized. Have you ever thought of sprucing up your interior space with an unconventional element or adding pops of color? The easiest way you can refresh your space is by introducing (or replacing) indoor plants! Yes, plants can be quite unconventional! Having indoor plants in your home would give you the feeling of having an indoor garden and a green space, within the limits of your own home. Especially in dense cities, it might be difficult to find outdoor spaces just for yourself where you can relax, so having indoor plants will help you feel like you have a bit of the outside, indoors.

Now, you might also be thinking that you do not have enough space or even enough time to take care of plants, or you feel inexperienced taking care of them. However, there are all kinds of indoor plants, some suited to little spaces, and some that require very little watering and maintenance. There is a plant for every home. There are many different types of indoor plant possibilities for your space, whether you live in a tight apartment or a larger house with lots of space. You can opt for hanging plants from the ceiling, cacti, planters, terrariums, vases, or one from the many other options out there.

Indoor plants are known to have multifield advantages in our day to day life. They enrich our lives in multiple ways, environmental, functional and health-related. We all know some benefits of adding indoor plants to our homes, but there are quite a lot more benefits we may not know of. Besides the fresh and homely feel, they lend to your home, some indoor plants are known to remedy humidity! Some plants can also be used to reduce the noise indoors and moderate room temperatures. They make the interior climate of your space much better by releasing oxygen and getting rid of indoor pollutants and toxins. Plants are also known to improve your mental and physical well-being and can help make your apartment more cheerful, by adding colour and vibrance to your space. They also reduce tension, elevate concentration, improve the ambience, and enhance creativity. Hence they could act as perfect additions to your space, improving the overall quality of your home. Since the benefits far outweigh the negatives or apprehensions some of us may have, this could be the right time to reconsider adding plants or changing the plants you have in your home.

Plants are known to improve your mental and physical well-being and can help make your apartment more cheerful, by adding colour and vibrance to your space.

In this article, we explore a few indoor plants that you can opt for to create your ideal green space within your home.

1. Monstera Deliciosa or ‘Swiss Cheese Plant’

This plant gets its name from the typical nature of its large leaves with holes and spits in them, that lend an exotic yet cozy feel to your space. They bring a very playful feel to space because of their sprawling nature.

They are known to grow big in size, therefore you can opt for this if you have large open spaces. It requires lots of indirect sunlight, thriving in an environment that is not too hot. They are easy to manage without much fuss but require watering often since they need humidity to thrive.

2. Chlorophytum Comosum or ‘Spider Plant’

These form the perfect indoor hanging plants as they have long leaves or ‘spiderettes’ that dangle downwards from them. They add a vibrant and dynamic nature to your space because of their leaves.

This plant is known to purify air rapidly, so they are ideal if you live in a busy area with a lot of pollutants in the air. They require indirect sunlight, therefore you can hang them in corners towards the balcony or exterior spaces. They do not need much care or water, so would be the ideal plant for you in case you do not have much time to devote to them or are inexperienced.

Indoor plants do not only make your space look good, but they also help you feel better.

3. Sansevieria Trifasciata or ‘Snake Plant’

The name of this plant is due to the shape of its leaves. The snake plant cleans air very well as it is known to absorb more carbon dioxide than other indoor plants. If you have limited space available, this could also be a good option as this plant grows vertically upwards.

If you are looking for a plant which is no to minimal fuss and need one for a room that is not too well lit, this could be your go to plant. These are also ideal and survive with low maintenance as they require less water. These are perfect if you are not sure or familiar with plant care and are looking for your first indoor plant.

4. Coleus

If you are looking to add colour to your space through plants, and/or want something different from the typical green plants, you could opt for coleus. They usually have stunning bright coloured foliage – pinks, greens, yellow, red or maroon, and add a tropical vibrant nature to your space. They also have a a variety of leaf shapes and sizes. They work well both in gardens and indoors, and grow quite quickly.

You can choose them if you are looking for something to add colour and an interesting feel to an otherwise minimal space with not too much sunlight. Coleus requires quite a bit of watering, aiming to keep the soil moist but not wet, avoid watering too heavily.

5. Pilea Peperomioides or ‘Chinese Money Plant’

The Chinese money plant adds a fun and cheerful atmosphere to your space, thanks to their large disc shaped leaves and are very easy to grow. These are often used in Scandinavian style interiors, as the green leaves pop out great against white walls. They do not grow more than 20-30 cms so are perfect to be grown as potted plants.

The plant needs lots of sunlight so keep them next to windows. This plant is one that is very easy to take care of, and is very easy to propagate, as you can just cut off a portion and replant it.  This requires more watering in the summer, and needs to dry out in between watering.

Having indoor plants in your home, though highly beneficial, come with a few words of caution. Make sure of course that the plants you choose are non-poisonous, non-toxic, and in case you are allergic to pollen, opt for non-flowering plants. Different plants need different levels of care and maintenance, so choose the plants that match your ability to take care of them. For example, some may gather dust especially in the case of plants with large leaves. The frequency of watering different plants might differ, so be careful to stick to the correct requirements of water for each of your plants, because both underwatering and overwatering will cause the plant to wilt. Once in a while, you might need to take them outdoors to receive natural sunlight to replenish themselves.

Indoor plants do not only make your space look good, but they also help you feel better. Every plant has its own level of purification that it can provide depending on the size of its leaves, its age, and other properties. However, all plants end up creating a healthier environment in their own specific ways. They relieve stress, elevate moods, improve the environment and add vibrancy to your space. Choose your ideal houseplants based on what vibe you want them to lend to your space, the amount of time and care you can provide to them, and depending on how much space you have available. Though they need a bit of love and care, the benefits plants can provide are many, and they ultimately make your space more liveable, creating a happier and healthier space for you.

If you are considering adding indoor plants to your space or renovating your space altogether and would like some help, get in touch with us. We would be happy to help with any questions you may have.

The 7 top mistakes to avoid when renovating your home.

Renovating your home might seem like an arduous and daunting task. There are a lot of factors that go into this process, at both the design and construction stages, which could be confusing and overwhelming to you. When going through this, it is vital to plan all the important elements before you start the work, to make sure there are no complications or unexpected surprises. These elements need to be considered regardless of whether you are building a new house or renovating your existing home.

Aside from the design elements, there are a few other things you would need to consider in this process. These might seem small and insignificant, but if ignored, these small things can lead to a lot of significant, inconvenient, and even disastrous results. To help prevent that, we have put together a list of the most common mistakes to be mindful of, while building your perfect space. Keep those in mind to achieve your desired results within your budget and within the best possible timeline.

Renovating your home might seem like an arduous and daunting task.

Don’t #1: Build without permit.

Always be aware of the required permits, and apply for them in time, to prevent any complications later on. For structural changes or even lighter changes in the case of a monument, you will have to obtain permits from the different local authorities. Ask your architect for help to understand if and which permits must be applied for and how to go about the process. Always follow the rules and make sure to have your permit approved before starting any work on site.

Don’t #2: Hire a contractor without a contract.

Always make sure to have contracts in place between you and any professional you hire. Signed offers or quotes are often not enough. Go over all details of the project, the contract and the terms and conditions, before starting your work. If the words in the contract are too technical and difficult to understand, don’t worry. This is perfectly normal. Just ask your architect and/or someone from legal or with past experience to help you with this. Not having a valid contract, especially with your contractor, could lead to major misunderstandings and liability problems down the line. Make sure to always hire an experienced contractor with positive reviews from your architect and their own previous clients, to avoid a difficult or unreliable working relationship.

Don’t #3: Underestimate the timeline for your project.

Before starting your project, make sure you estimate a rough yet realistic timeline for your project. Your architect would be able to help you with that. This would include the time to create a good thorough design, find a good contractor, procure the necessary materials, get the permit approvals from the local authorities, and build the project of course. Always build in a buffer time as well, as such processes are bound to have delays and unexpected changes. So account for the unexpected! Your timeline may also be subjected to changes depending on the contractors and/or the materials suppliers’ availability, production and shipping capabilities. Having a realistic timeframe in mind will also ensure that you and your architect are on the same page regarding the scope of your project.  

Don’t #4: Underestimate the cost of your project.

Always make sure to have a good estimate of the costs of your project to make sure your finances match the scope you want to get done. The cost estimate would depend on whether your project needs to undergo heavy structural construction, plumbing and/or electrical works, the materials you choose, the size of the place, and other design and construction elements. With the help of your architect, arrive at an accurate estimate of the project to help you keep your finances in check. You may need to pick and choose what to do and what to give up, or you can prioritize what you do now and what can be done later. This will ensure you have enough for all the work you plan to do, as well as prevent last-minute surprises, especially if you have a tight budget. Always make sure you leave an extra buffer for contingencies in your budget for any unforeseen circumstances or last-minute wishes!

A good architect and a good contractor will be able to guide you through these factors and considerations, to ensure your project goes smoothly.

Don’t #5: Forget to check the status of works during construction.

A good architect will keep a close eye on the construction site during construction and will keep you updated of all developments and any major setbacks. However, if you decided to manage the project and supervise construction by yourself, you must keep in close contact with your contractor and visit the site regularly, to make sure you are satisfied with the construction as and when it is being done. If anything is not as it should be, make sure to flag that to the contractor as soon as possible. This will help prevent confusion and last-minute changes, which would lead to more time and money going into correcting mistakes, ones that could have been prevented or corrected much earlier. During the construction phase, seeing things in person would be easier for you to get a comprehensive idea of your project rather than visualising things through drawings. Communication is key, so make sure to meet or communicate with your architect and/or contractor on a regular basis.

Don’t #6: Change any design elements with suppliers without consulting your architect.

It is not uncommon that after you and your architect have finalised the design of your kitchen for example, and as you finalise the order with the kitchen supplier at the showroom, the supplier’s representative proposes a change to the design for whatever reason. Always check with your architect before agreeing to any changes with the supplier. The reason is, a change in the kitchen can have a bigger impact on the rest of the house, not only in design terms but also in technical terms, such as electrical and plumbing connections for example. A change that may seem minor to you, can have huge consequences that would cause changes in other aspects of the project. Those changes can cost you a lot of time, money and inconvenience, especially if permits are already approved or construction has already started. If you have doubts regarding design elements for your home that you had previously decided with your architect, make sure to discuss them with the architect themselves. Together you can find a solution. Your architect has the overall picture of the project in mind and will be able to advise on the consequences of any changes.

Don’t #7: Buy low-quality or cheap furniture.

Always choose durable and good quality furniture for your space. Saving up on furniture by buying low quality and/or furniture that can be used only selectively, such as furniture in loud colours, would lead to added costs at the end of the day. Having said that, there are reasons why buying temporary furniture would be smart, such as with young kids or if you are planning on renting out your house. If however, you are creating the house for yourself, it would be best to choose good quality materials, finishes and furniture. Good quality does not have to be expensive, when you are not also paying for a brand. Overall, make sure you are not “penny wise and pound foolish”, as the saying goes.

A good architect and a good contractor will be able to guide you through these factors and considerations, to ensure your project goes smoothly. Of course, these are just a few of the many things you must consider when building or renovating your house. Many other factors could derail your project and cause changes to your estimated timeline and finances but addressing these 7 don’ts will at least ensure that the basic fundamentals are all considered.

Whether building a new house or renovating your own, keep the big picture in mind and make sure to plan long term. Above all, keep the communication open with your architect, contractor and any other professionals helping you through this process.

If you are considering building a new home or renovating your own and need help to create your ideal project, get in touch with us. We would be happy to help with any questions you may have.

Optimising your roof space and creating a rooftop terrace.

In high-density cities, it might not always be easy to find an outdoor space just for yourself, away from the city’s noise and banter, and easily accessible. If you have a flat under-utilised roof, you need not look any further. You may be able to tap into all of its potentials by converting it into a liveable roof space instead. Being multifunctional, a flat roof could act as an extension of your home and will add benefits to your living conditions. You can choose the perfect function for your roof space based on your lifestyle, your hobbies, and requirements and convert this into your personal outdoor pod away from the hustle of the city.

There are a lot of options when it comes to designing your perfect roof terrace. You could opt for a lounge space with a backrest of planters, a barbeque area, a custom-built outdoor kitchen, you could even choose to have a fireplace with outdoor seating! Engaging an architect can be a good idea to get help with deciding on various elements of the roof terrace, such as the access to your space, the lighting, electric points, water connections, plants, and furniture. A few other elements you could add to your roof terrace space are lounge sofas, planters, pergola shades, an outdoor kitchen, a pizza wooden oven, a bar table, and even hammocks. Since roof spaces in dense cities can be small, it is important to make sure you optimise the use of your (potentially limited) space as best as possible.

If you have a flat roof and are looking for ideas to spruce it up and add an extra something for relaxation, you could turn it into a green roof. This could act as an additive space for meditation and other activities and even end up as your own personal park. Green roofs also absorb the rainwater falling on the city, and this would be beneficial for the city too, as it would reduce street runoff. The benefits are many, from aesthetic value, personal space, and making your house more eco-friendly.

You can choose the perfect function for your roof space based on your lifestyle, your hobbies, and requirements and convert this into your personal outdoor pod away from the hustle of the city.

You can choose to create any of the following three types of rooftop gardens or ‘green’ roofs or even a combination of them.

1. Ornamental green roofs

These are the types of green roofs that are primarily for leisure and enjoyment. You could provide a small green space with seating nearby, where you can entertain your guests or simply use it as a space for yourself.

2. Functional green roofs

These green roofs are mainly vegetable gardens, where you can grow herbs and other vegetables. You can grow your own organic produce here to always ensure a fresh supply and even reduce your grocery expenses.

3. Natural green roofs

These green roofs are made of naturally occurring plants and weeds, which are low-to-no maintenance. These provide aesthetic as well as sustainable benefits.

In the case of a renovation of your already existing terrace space, you can also opt for extra insulation and solar panels, to make your home more sustainable. This will help in turn by reducing your energy costs, and making your home more comfortable to live in!

To help you through the process of designing and building your roof terrace, we have noted the different points you would need to be aware of and carry out:

  • Do you need a permit?
    You need to start by checking if you need to apply for a permit from your municipality for such a renovation. If you are planning to hire an architect, they can also help check the permit requirements that apply to your situation. An architect will also be able to prepare all the drawings and documentation needed for a permit application and coordination with the concerned authorities. Follow the correct rules and apply for the permit on time.
    Also, make sure you wait for the permit before starting the construction process, to prevent any complications later on. Privacy would be one of the main considerations for the permit, so in case your rooftop space looks over your neighbour’s property, you might have to think about a solution for that.
    If you would like to know more about renovation permits in The Netherlands, check out this previous article of ours here.  In it, we discuss the importance of applying for a permit in time, the different types of permits in the Netherlands, and other risks associated with that process.
  • How much might it cost?
    Whether you are newly constructing your rooftop terrace or renovating your already existing space, with the help of your architect, make sure to correctly estimate the required cost for your project. The cost estimate would depend on whether your project needs structural supports, the materials you choose, and the size and other construction elements of your roof terrace. An accurate estimate of the project would help you keep your finances in check and ensure you have enough for all the work you plan to do, as well as prevent last-minute surprises, especially if you have a tight budget. Also, make sure you leave an extra margin in your cost estimate for any unforeseen circumstances. You can create an accurate estimate and stick to it by deciding on the design priorities for your space.

    If you are curious about the different costs of a renovation, or you are trying to estimate the costs for your own upcoming renovation, you might like to read our other articles here. In that article, we explore how to come up with a good estimate for your intervention taking into account the different factors of the project. We also include information about the different steps to be considered in the case of a renovation.

  • Is it technically feasible?
    Check the structural integrity of your home and the stability of your roof. You need to ensure that the existing structure is strong enough to take on the extra loads. Otherwise, reinforcement may be required. Your architect and/or contractor would be able to help you with this step. They would also be able to help decide what materials would work best for the basic frame of your project. Also consider if the access to the rooftop space is safe, or if work needs to be done on creating new access.
  • Make the best of the space!
    Ensure you spend time creating the optimal layout to optimise the use of space. There are endless ways to be smart about using a small space to do big things! Use smarter design solutions and manage your priorities by deciding what you want your space to cater to, so you can do more with less space. Make sure not to overcrowd your space with elements, because you will lose flexibility. And the more flexible space is, the better it would be to accommodate more people if required. Also, make sure to use durable furniture, so it doesn’t get damaged by different weather conditions.

With the summer approaching, and specially if lockdown continues, there has not been a better time to consider creating your own private outdoor space. If this all feels overwhelming, a good architect will be able to help you with all of the above. Always make sure to hire an experienced architect who can cover the technical, legal, architectural, environmental as well as aesthetics aspects. A roof terrace is not an easy project, so you might as well make sure that when you do it, you do it right!

Ultimately, a rooftop terrace gives you the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors in the privacy of your own home. Opting for a space on your terrace can give you benefits such as energy savings, lower temperatures indoors, and increases your property value and aesthetic appeal. Your rooftop garden could also provide insulation, keeping your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. They also provide the perfect space for relaxation and leisure, whether by yourself or with friends!

If you are considering renovating your roof space and need help designing your perfect rooftop terrace, get in touch with us, we would be happy to help with any questions you may have.

9 interior design styles for your home.

Whether you are renovating your entire home or just one of the spaces, having a good sense of interior design styles will help you create a more cohesive and well-thought look and feel for your house. Interior design styles can be confusing or overwhelming. And one element, such as a material, a texture, a color, or even the lighting; can make or break the look. So where do you start?

The three most important factors you want to consider while renovating your space are the flow, the functionality, and the aesthetic; balancing the individuality of each element as well as how they all come together. In this article, we discuss some of the different styles to help you orientate. If you’re not sure what works best for you, it might be a good idea to consider talking to an architect / interior designer who would help you decide what the perfect style for your space might be.

Some people think in terms of defined style and can imagine their home all in one coherent style such as the industrial or the minimalist style. However, it is also very common that people don’t think in terms of specific styles, but simply in terms of a collection of different elements and items that they like. No approach is right or wrong, whichever group you subscribe to, there are advantages and challenges.

If you are part of the first group, make sure your house doesn’t end up being too predictable, portraying a certain style so perfectly that it becomes impersonal. So, your challenge here is: how to create a holistic coherent look, and still make it your own unique home.

If you are part of the second group, the challenge here is to avoid a mix and match look that fights itself and does not create any coherence. So, the question here is how to integrate the different elements you like, and ensure they come together to form a coherent look and feel. We want to strike the balance between the individuality of the different elements you like and how they come together in a holistic look and feel for your home. Remember, the style you end up with does not need to be a known recognized style with a name; It can be your own unique style.

No approach is right or wrong, whichever group you subscribe to, there are advantages and challenges.

1. Mid Century Modern

If you are inspired by the styles of the 1950-60s, Mid Century Modern could be the style for your home. Opt for easy-to-use contemporary designs that mainly focus on functionality. Abstract and organic shapes both work well with this style, so you could choose to go for clean lines and/or curved forms. You could pick asymmetrical geometric patterns for the decorative items in your space such as rugs, paintings, and wallpaper. Metals, plywood, and medium-toned colors such as browns are good choices for this style. Experiment with round globe lights, pendant lights, or even brass fixtures, to have a perfect mid-century modern space.

2. Minimalist

If you like clean lines, airy and large spaces, opt for a minimalist style for your space. Focus on creating a large open space or the illusion of a large open bright with tons of light and air. Opt for simple, geometric furniture. A minimalist style of interior design highlights functionality, and as the name suggests, ‘Less is more’! So, choosing basic and neutral colors such as black, grey, and white would be the best bet here.

3. Modern

Modern style in interior design refers to the early to mid-20th century designs. This basically includes crisp and straight lines, basic color combinations of three to four colors at most, including a lot of black, white, and some accent colors. Go for simple furniture and lesser accessories in your design for this look. Choosing black metal furniture ties this look together, giving a sleek and comprehensive look to your space.

All the interior design styles described above are just a selection, and as mentioned before, you do not have to apply them by the book. Simply use them as a starting point. In fact, you could play with these styles quite a bit and innovate your own. For example, you can surprise yourself and everyone else by adding to your Scandinavian-like minimalist interior a touch of screaming neon pink!  

Ultimately, you are the one to decide which interior design style is best suited to your taste, personality, and your space. Remember though, that before interior design, several very important aspects need to be considered, such as your layout, flow, composition, and technical aspects to name just a few. If you are considering a renovation and not just an aesthetic makeover, you may want to seek the help of an experienced architect. They will help you with the fundamentals, on top of which interior design styles can be created. Interior design is not just colors and furniture, it needs to go hand in hand with the architecture of the space.

Explore all nine interior design styles for your home.

If you are considering the renovation or a makeover for your home and would like help in deciding which design style is best suited for you, or you simply need a second opinion, get in touch! We would be happy to help with any questions you may have.

Estimating the cost of renovating your home.

When you are buying a house or upgrading your current one, estimating the costs of the renovation by yourself is one of the hardest things. Information out there is vague, different sources will give you different numbers, and you can never be sure you have budgeted all items needed. Before starting the renovation, you need to know what you are getting yourself into and most importantly, if you can afford it until full completion. So, creating a budget is one of the primary tasks, once you have decided to renovate your home. An accurate estimate of the project would help you keep your finances in check and ensure you have enough for all the required work, as well as prevent last-minute surprises, especially if you have a tight budget.

To help you get started with a rough estimation, here are a few things that need to be considered. They are mostly based on the size and scope of your project.

Creating a budget is one of the primary tasks, once you have decided to renovate your home.

Estimating the cost of renovating your home
1. What do you want to remodel?

First, you need to decide what areas to remodel. A priority list could even be created based on what is absolutely needed, what would be good to have and what would be nice to have. This includes what space particularly, or whether it is a certain aspect of the space that needs to be remodeled. Keep in mind that the larger the area to be renovated, the more expensive it would get. Examples of a ‘must do’ task are a foundation check, fixing a leak in the roof, or replacing the windows with double glazed well-insulated ones. Examples of a ‘good to have’ would be new floors or new furniture. And an example of a ‘nice to have’ would be a fireplace. This of course depends on your own needs, priorities, and taste!

2. The more protected the building, the more expensive the renovation could get.

The ease or levels of complexity of the renovation would depend on the monumental status of the building and any protected status it has. Older buildings, especially ones that are of historic value, could be more expensive to renovate. This could be because of the need to apply for a permit but also because of the structural quality, including foundations, roofs, doors, windows, materials, and other fittings that may be old and need more work. The requirements and specifications of the remodeling could also differ based on the location. These specifications could vary based on the city too.

3. Do you need a contractor and/or an Architect?

Does your project require smaller surface work that you would be able to do yourself, such as removing the wallpaper, installing new floors, a fresh layer of paint…etc.? If you are handy and confident, doing these tasks might not require you hiring any external professional help.  However, if your project involves structural changes or more complicated tasks, these will need to be designed, planned, and executed by professionals, not to mention, some may need a permit application to the local municipality. Don’t be tempted to save here, you may end up spending a lot more money, wasting time and efforts. Make sure you are not “penny wise and pound foolish” as they say!

Check out all our residential projects here.

Older buildings, especially ones that are of historic value, could be more expensive to renovate.

Estimating the cost of renovating your home
4. Be informed about permits and other legal local requirements.

In case of structural changes or even lighter changes in case your house is a monument, you will have to obtain permits from the different local authorities. It is always better to be aware of any permits required. There are known cases in The Netherlands where the local authorities have imposed a fine and the demolition of works that were done without the required permit. Follow the rules and apply for the correct permit, this would ensure there are no complications or extra costs during the renovation process or afterwards.

5. Always budget for unforeseen costs.

After you create your base budget, make sure you include a buffer. In other words, expect the unexpected! Essentially, keep the following in mind:

  • Most renovation costs start from a minimum of 1000 €/m up. Generally, 1200 €/m2 can be considered as a good average, excluding the architect’s fee.
  • Depending on the scope, the process of renovation could be anywhere from weeks to months, excluding the design process period and the waiting time if permits are required.
  • Construction materials generally would amount to 6-8% of the whole price of the renovation. Therefore choosing to buy materials and finishes that are simple yet effective, and opting for ready-made furniture (instead of going for custom made for example) would help in keeping the estimate in check.
  • Very roughly, average percentages for a basic renovation project of a residence could be around the following:

In the case of a full house renovation, construction takes up 42% of the whole cost, while demolition would take about 6%.  The renovation of the kitchen and redoing the flooring of the residence could count for around 13% each while redoing the finishes could be up to 12% of the whole cost. Utilities count for the remaining 14%.

Estimating the cost of renovating your home

When it comes to costs of different items, the following is a rough starting point:

An average floor material could start from 50 €/m2 depending on the material, quality, and design. Demolishing light interior partitions (not structural walls) could be 40-80€/m2. Paintwork could cost 18-20 €/m2. Installing new doors and windows could cost 1800-3200€ per item. Demolishing the kitchen equipment could cost 900-1000€ while renovating a kitchen of about 10m2 (including demolition of walls and disassembling the previous kitchen, getting new connections for water, electricity, and gas, installation of new walls and floor, tile work and paintwork, and new equipment) could cost between 25,000€ to 38,000€. Purchasing kitchen equipment for a good kitchen alone could cost between 15,000€ to 20,000€. A bathroom renovation (including assembly and materials) could cost somewhere in between 6,000€ to 10,000€, including installing new bathroom fixtures, which could vary between 1000€ to 3000€. Keep in mind those costs are indications only and not an accurate estimate.

In addition to all costs above, try and allocate 20% as a buffer for contingencies, last-minute changes, and unforeseen circumstances.

6. Get professional help.

If you are feeling overwhelmed just reading this article, then keep calm and get professional advice. Getting professional advice upfront remains the best way to help you create a good rough estimate of the costs and to manage your budget. Even if you have to pay for a professional to create a cost estimate for you, this will help you save money down the line.

A good architect or a good contractor would help you get a realistic idea of the costs you are getting yourself into before you commit to the project. A good architect will also help you manage priorities and create savings during the project by creating smarter design solutions, and doing more with less. Make sure your architect does not calculate their own fees as a percentage of the construction costs. If they do, then you must ask yourself, where does their interest lie? If they are paid in the function of how expensive the project is, will they really help you preserve your budget, spend it in the most optimal way, and give you advice regarding necessary and unnecessary changes? When looking for an architect, make sure you ask all the questions you need before hiring them.

Check out all our residential projects here.

Whether you ultimately decide to approach an architect and/ or a contractor for help, or decide to create your own budget, estimating the costs of a renovation is not an instantaneous or an easy process.  It varies on a lot of factors such as protected status, size, location, desired finish level, quality of work, local labor costs, and others. Make sure to get multiple opinions from experts, and keep a margin of extra time and budget, in order to be prepared for any unexpected items. This will ultimately help you remodel your home within a good budget and on time, and ensure you get the best possible result for your newly renovated home.

If you are considering a renovation and need help estimating a budget, or a second opinion on a budget you already have, get in touch with us, we would be happy to help with any questions you may have.

2021 Color trends for your home

Choosing the right color scheme for your home interior can make a world of difference during these unusual times where we spend most of our time at home. The colors can have a positive impact on your mood as well as motivate you to become more productive. In order for you to elevate your living standards, we have looked into the color trends of 2021 and prepared a short informative selection of colors trending for this year. Hopefully, we can inspire you to learn which colors speak to your personal taste the most and be inspired to upgrade your home in 2021.

Research shows that in 2021, people are turning to nature-inspired colors to create a sense of comfort and stability.1 During these uncertain times, it is normal to feel disrupted due to the ongoing changes in our lifestyles. We are searching for serenity and calmness through certain colors and want to feel more grounded and zen in our homes. There are certain colors such as green, blue, or neutral beige which intrinsically convey these characteristics, and can allow for a positive change in your home atmosphere.

The colors can have a positive impact on your mood as well as motivate you to become more productive.

AKKA Architects Slachtofferhulp Netherlands Workplace Design

Shutterstock has released color trend predictions for 2021, which includes an organic palette with soft whites, rich golds and deep blue-greens. The creative director of shutterstock, Flo Lau said that people are leaving behind the bright, saturated hues that defined 2020 and moving towards a rich and natural palette that invites new opportunities and represents a desire to be outside,2 or a longing to being outside and reconnecting with Nature. The nature-inspired colors have been also advocated to increase mindfulness and optimism.

The paint brand Dulux has chosen the color Brave Ground, a warm, neutral color that is stabilizing and enabling, as the color of the year 2021.3 It communicates an elemental color, reflecting the strength that can be drawn from nature. It provides an opportunity to change and bring creativity into your home. Dulux has also used words such as ‘nourish, reset and retreat’ in order to express their color forecast for 2021.4 The earth-based hues allow for a balance between working from home and living at home, as these two aspects of our lives continue to blend together in the upcoming year as well. As different companies have expressed the recurring theme of back to nature, we can expect that it will be an ongoing trend in 2021.

Pantone has chosen the neutral Ultimate Grey and Illuminating, a yellow shade as the two main colors of 2021.5 The combination of these two colors convey a strong and hopeful outlook on the new year. The contrast of these two colors can uplift and bring warmth to your home interior. Here are some examples showing how they can be incorporated in your interior design.

Backed with years of research, the power of colors has become self-evident. If you want to upgrade your interior and use your space to support your mood, performance, and daily interactions, think of adapting to the new year’s colors. It is still not too late. Be empowered, inspired and nurished by the colors of 2021 all in your own home!

If you are interested in upgrading your interior, by integrating a new color scheme, or by doing other renovations, get in touch! We would love to share our ideas about adapting your interior design to sustain your creativity at home and support your daily interactions. Whatever your question, we would love to hear from you. We would be happy to help with any questions you may have.

Simple things to do to reduce noise while working at home.

While a year ago, many of us would have loved to be able to work from home a bit more often, now that it has become the norm, we are experiencing newfound challenges. In this article, we would like to delve into one of the main reasons why working from home could be challenging for some of us, namely, noise. There are several factors that could potentially affect the extent to which we are able to work in a quiet environment, starting from a noisy neighbour and outside sounds to our own flatmates or family members. If not addressed properly, this situation can become quite frustrating in the long run and could affect our focus, our productivity at work, and even our well-being. For this reason, in this article, we will share a few suggestions regarding how to manage noise at home more effectively. For additional tips on how to nurture your well-being while working from home, take a look at our other articles here and here.

Several factors could potentially affect the extent to which we are able to work in a quiet environment, starting from a noisy neighbour and outside sounds to our own flatmates or family members.

1. Consider the furniture & layout of your home office

The objects present in a room, as well as the way they are positioned can both have an impact on the way that sounds circulate and reverberate in the space. It’s important, for instance, to make sure that the room that you are working in has enough furniture in it, preferably with soft surfaces, so as to avoid an echo-ing effect. If you don’t have enough space for furniture or that is not possible for whatever reason, then you could try to prevent this effect from occurring by using the walls to hang framed pictures, prints or paintings, or by adding plants around the room and rugs on the floor. These will also be effective at absorbing the sounds. Depending on your situation, make sure to place your desk in a position that keeps it as far away from the source of noise as possible.

2. Use headphones

Whether you prefer listening to music, to ambient noises, or simply not playing anything at all, headphones will tone down other noises in your environment and allow you to focus on your work much more easily. If you would like to make sure that you’re able to work in complete silence, you could also consider investing in a pair of noise cancelling headphones.

3. Acoustic panels

If you would like to invest in a sound proofing technique, one of the most affordable and practical options is to purchase acoustic panels. There are many types of acoustic panels, some more decorative than others and some more expensive than others. However, you do not need a fancy solution if you do not want one. In essence, even a piece of foam glued to the underside of your desk (where it will not be visible) will do the trick. Regardless of what kind of acoustic panel you choose, it will reduce the echo effects to a higher degree and will ensure that the sounds allowed in your office are kept at a minimal level.

Due to the current circumstances, managing our home environment has become one of the priorities that we have to pay close attention to, compared to in previous times. For some of us, dealing with outdoor or indoor noises could be one of the biggest challenges that working remotely poses. If you find yourself in the situation of having to work in a noisy environment, we recommend that you apply a combination of layout, interior design, and soundproofing techniques to manage the soundscape of your home in a much easier way.

If you are wondering how the space in your home could be better adapted to deal with the daily sounds in your environment, then get in touch with us. We would be happy to help you with the process of redesigning your home in a way that supports your working from home dynamic.

Four suggestions for improving your mental health while working from home.

It is easy to overlook our mental health in these challenging times. This is not only because we might be too busy or because it seems like there are more urgent things going on in the world right now, but also since the activities that previously helped us recharge might either not be possible at the moment, or they might have to take a different form. However, this is not to say that mental health is any less important than it used to be before. If anything, the current lockdown should remind us even more of why it’s so important to treat mental health and wellbeing as priorities.

This might sound easier said than done. So, let us clarify what we mean by prioritising mental health and wellbeing. In this article, we aim to transform this into a process that is easy to follow, by dividing it into three dimensions. We hope that our suggestions will come in handy regardless of whether you are currently working from home or you do not have the option to do so fully.

It is easy to overlook our mental health in these challenging times.

1. Create a routine

The one aspect that is at the heart of preserving our wellbeing while working from home is sticking to a nurturing routine. This will make it much easier to follow any of the other suggestions presented in this article. For most of us, sticking to a routine includes having clearly delimited working hours during weekdays, and dedicating a time frame for relaxation and recreation. In other words, making as much of an effort as possible to respect the office working hours, without falling into the trap of working from home non-stop.

2. Mental wellbeing

The first dimension of wellbeing is the mental one. As previously mentioned, maintaining a good mental wellbeing is closely connected to maintaining a balanced routine. Having breaks, for instance, is an essential aspect of it. In terms of recreational activities, we suggest engaging in somewhat creative ones, such as reading, listening to music, or adult colouring books. If you would like to know more about breaks and creativity, check out our other article here. Additionally, incorporating meditation in your daily routine is another very effective way of ensuring an improved mental focus and better stress tolerance during work1. Keep in mind that there are different meditation methods designed for different purposes, so you can choose what works for you best.

Sticking to a routine includes having clearly delimited working hours during weekdays, and dedicating a time frame for relaxation.

top five green building certifications
3. Physical wellbeing

Our physical wellbeing is just as important as the mental one. In fact, they are often interconnected. Exercising is essential for maintaining our physical wellbeing, and this could also be easily incorporated into a routine. For instance, going for a walk at lunchtime is a great way of getting some fresh air and having a break. If you consider yourself more of a morning person and if you would like to start your day in a way that ensures your mental and physical wellbeing, then a home workout in the early hours might be the choice for you. Alternatively, you could have an evening one, in the same way that some people prefer to go to the gym at the end of a workday, for instance.

4. Consider your environment

Lastly, there is a connection between interior spaces and our wellbeing. Natural light, for instance, has been proven to reduce stress and increase satisfaction. For this reason, you might want to make sure that you allow as much of it as possible into your space. With the right balance of bright colours, decorations and plants, you can make the most of your space in a way that supports your mental health while working from home.

In these crucial times, our mental health and wellbeing are essential to help us cope. By maintaining a routine and taking into consideration both the mental and physical dimensions of wellbeing, we can adjust our daily activities in a way that is meaningful and suitable to the home environment. However, it is important to remember that we are all doing our best to adapt to an unexpected situation that keeps changing. So, do not be too harsh on yourself if you can’t keep it up every day, and, if things get too overwhelming, know that it is sometimes more productive to just have a break.

If you would like to know more about the link between interior design and wellbeing, or if you are wondering how your space might be affecting your own situation (for better or for worse), then get in touch with us. We would be happy to help you with the process of redesigning your home in a way that supports your wellbeing while working from home.

Four tips to recreate the best of the workplace at home.

Do you remember what it felt like to work surrounded by colleagues? Things like hearing the sound of a printer or having a chat with a co-worker during a coffee break used to give our days a completely different feeling. With the current state of events, it might seem like this kind of atmosphere is so distant from us, unreachable in the near future. Most of us have adapted to the new routine in one way or another, often leaving certain aspects of the old one behind. When not having as many interactions, working from home can sometimes make all days feel like they blend into one. To change things up a bit, it is worth attempting to recreate some of the details of our office experience that used to make up a pleasant and familiar routine.

1. Staying connected to our colleagues

The relationships between coworkers are essential for creating a good workplace experience. It’s why most HR managers focus on fostering a feeling of belonging within the company. In the absence of a physical workspace, we might need this sense of connection even more than before. Luckily, social interactions are one aspect that can be taken to the digital work environment. But an email or text message might not always be enough to foster this feeling. To make this experience seem more personal, you could consider sending voice/video messages, as well as scheduling calls more often in order to work together or discuss ideas. Additionally, since body language and verbal cues are lost in written messages, this is a much better way to ensure that you and your co-workers are communicating effectively.

The relationships between coworkers are essential for creating a good workplace experience.

2. A digital open-door policy

This is a working from home equivalent to the policy that allows employees to pop into a manager or team leader’s office in order to ask questions, discuss ideas, or pose any concerns they might have. It could be an open, walk-in type of online meeting within a designated time frame of the day, similar to university professors’ office hours. In this way, the manager can stay connected on the call while working, so that employees can log into the call and have a chat with him/her whenever something pops up.

3. The soundscape of an office

While in regular times it may go unnoticed, this is another key element of the workplace environment that could be adapted to remote work. Listening to ambient noises is a common way of creating a workplace experience at home. This website, for instance, has been built with the intention of creating the atmosphere of an office. Due to its interactive nature, you can select the number of co-workers you would like to share the office with and click on individual objects in the room in order to hear different types of sounds. It includes the sounds of water being poured, keyboard typing, footsteps, and low background conversations. Furthermore, these office noises could make you relax, zone out, and increase your focus during working. This could be especially helpful if your living situation makes it more difficult to work in a quiet environment.

4. Digital Friday evening drinks

This is an idea that has been implemented by many companies, and its purpose is meant to respond to the same needs. Informal meetings between colleagues are constructive for team building, and having drinks at home is a good way of having a social break while rewarding employees for a successful week of work.

Changing the environment we are working in has the potential to offer new opportunities for working more effectively than before. In order to make the most out of working from home and to achieve a good balance between work and life, it is a good idea to try and transfer some of the key elements that create a healthy office environment to the home one. A sense of connection is essential for maintaining this, and a few ways that it could be achieved through is by using a combination of online interactions and ambient sounds.

If you have any questions about adapting your house to your own desires and needs, then get in touch with us. We would be happy to help you with the process of redesigning your home in a way that supports your working from home dynamics.

Are you looking for help with your project?

Fill in the form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

 

“We would like to express our gratitude for the time you invested in helping us get to a clear picture.  Anna and I really appreciated the call we had with you, your responsiveness, and the great empathy that you exhibited throughout – we certainly felt very “well taken care of” when engaging with you.  On the practical side, we especially appreciated that there was the option to obtain robust bottom-up cost estimates for the construction itself (not every design architect offers this).”

-Private Client of AKKA

 

 

Are you interested in requesting a free consultation of your space?

Fill in the form and we will call you within two working days.