What do you think about apartment remodels? Not the renovations that have to be done, but remodels – done only for the sake of creating a more beautiful space? Do you find it superficial and materialistic? Do you feel it’s a way to get compliments from guests? Do you think it’s a way to keep oneself busy when one has “nothing better to do”?
Maybe your answer is “yes”, or maybe you’re surprised we even asked those questions because you can’t believe someone feels that way. Or you’re aware that majority of people feel that way, but you don’t agree.
Either way, interior design is usually seen as something too luxurious – expensive, without being necessary. And yes, it is definitely perfectly acceptable to live in a not-perfectly-designed apartment. Actually, it’s not only acceptable, it’s a reality for almost everyone.
But for us, interior design is not about luxury living. It is not about designer furniture nor expensive materials.
It is about enjoying your everyday life.
You see, first and foremost, interior design simplifies life – because functional space creates ease. It can take the stress out of your busy mornings. It can bring joy to preparing family reunions. It can make cleaning a breeze.
It is also about understanding your needs and being honest with yourself. Accepting who you are, accepting your habits and your routines.
Sure, you can change your habits. But don’t wait for your remodel to be finished, only to realize you are definitely not willing to cook three meals a day, even though you have a wonderful pantry and an amazing kitchen. You need a home that is ideal for you, not the one ideal for an ideal person.
For us, functionality – whatever it means for you – is just as important as aesthetics. Maybe it’s even more important, but we like to believe it’s equally important.
We are about to start our series of Four steps to a lovable home. Not just beautiful and not just super-practical, but the home you’ll fall in love with, even if you hate your apartment right now, and can’t imagine that outcome.
These steps are exactly what we do for each of our projects. Our easy-to-follow design process that never fails. The only bad thing is that these steps don’t work unless we (or in this case – you) do.
Step one – identifying problems
Look around you.
What do you like about your apartment?
Is it bright and spacious? Is it cozy? Is it easy to maintain? Are there practical storage solutions?
What annoys you?
Is there a pile of shoes in the entryway? Are there too many coats on the rack all the time? Is your kitchen countertop filled with appliances, with almost no workspace left? Is bathroom too small? Do you have a weird piece of furniture that doesn’t match with anything else in the apartment (but not in a stylish way)?
Can you detect any parts of your apartment that could be used differently?
Is there an unused nook, a non-displayed great piece of furniture or maybe an entire room cluttered with unnecessary items that should’ve been thrown away years ago?
Can you recognize the parts that need your constant attention in order to remain clutter-free and functional?
Maybe a drawer that fills up with all kinds of stuff that belong somewhere else? Or cabinet doors that show every fingerprint?
These four categories are parts of SWOT analysis:
- Strengths – good apartment features
- Weaknesses – bad apartment features
- Opportunities – currently bad or neutral features that could be turned into good ones
- Threats – currently good or neutral features that could cause trouble during or after remodel
Everything in your apartment can be listed in one of these categories. To identify problems in your apartment that need to be solved, separate the parts of your home that you love (strength) from the parts you maybe love but seem to clean or de-clutter often (threats). Also, carefully separate the parts you hopelessly hate (weaknesses) from those that may have some potential even though you don’t see the solution yet (opportunities).
Write down everything you can think of, no matter how small or meaningless it might seem. Little details can make a big difference. But keep in mind the final result you want to achieve. The ultimate goal, the way you want everything to be like (and work like) after you finish, will help you to focus. Without that goal, these lists could be endless.
As an example, we will use our kitchen remodel project which is a part of two-phase family house reconstruction we wrote about a long time ago…
The task was to design a functional, one-wall kitchen, with dining area, connected with living room, in order to create a big space for family reunions – having two groups of people, who would like to talk to each other, in separate rooms, was always frustrating for the owners.
• Good size of the rooms
• The kitchen and the living room are next to each other
• Small, outdated kitchen
• Old, ugly, damaged and impossible-to-clean linoleum on the kitchen floor
• Plumbing fixtures have to be renovated
• The kitchen and the living room are separated by a load bearing wall
There were a lot of other characteristics of the apartment, and elements in it, that could be categorized, for example, small windows would definitely be a weakness. But since there was no way to do anything about that, we ignored it in our analysis – it had nothing to do with our goal.
The final design is a result of the SWOT analysis:
- The fact the kitchen and the living room were big enough and right next to each other, helped us organize the space in the way owners wanted. That’s the thing about strength – all you need to do is to keep everything that is good.
- Old linoleum was replaced by new floor tiles.
- Necessary renovation of the old plumbing system was an opportunity to move the kitchen on the other side of the room to get extra 140 cm of the kitchen length. By seizing that opportunity, we eliminated the first weakness – the kitchen is now bigger. It is also new and stylish.
- The load bearing wall was a threat because owners wanted to merge the two rooms, but due to time and budget restrictions, that was not possible. However, we connected the rooms with wide sliding doors which mainly remain open. Visual (and sound) connection works for owners just as well, while keeping the opportunity for a guest to sleep over on the couch if necessary
See what we did there? We used the opportunities we detected, to eliminate weaknesses. That’s the power of SWOT analysis.
You can go here to see the result.
However, this was not the first time we did this, so don’t think too much about whether something will or won’t affect your design. It’s ok to decide later, that something is not important.
Actually, that’s exactly what we’ll talk about in step two. We’ll explain how to prioritize the problems you identified because the focus on the important issues during apartment remodel is crucial for both, time and budget management.
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