Top Tips On Renovating Successfully From Balance Architecture + Interior Design

Victorian Home fully restored

Victorian Home fully restored

During the year the team from Balance Architecture + Interior Design have shared some great tips for successful renovations. We have chosen their top tips and put them together in this year-end blog:

The first tip is to list the positive and negative features of a space.  Consider carefully what works well and what doesn’t, think about what you love about it and what you want to get rid of, also what needs changing. What is the purpose of the space? How can it best work for you and your family?  Try to anticipate any likely changes to your lifestyle in the future that will affect the space.

The second tip is when renovating a heritage home to do it with great care and respect for the history and original design concepts of the building. Sensitivity to the heritage overlays, council requirements and structural condition of your home will save you much time and angst. Architects and Interior Designers, such as Andrew Fedorowicz and Amanda Richmond, that have the experience and knowledge required for heritage renovations will ensure an end result that resonates with the true history of your home.

The third tip is to detect any problems in the building that require addressing before embarking upon structural changes and beautification.  For example, a damp house is a serious problem, causing building defects, health problems and can be costly to repair if the issue is not addressed promptly. Types of dampness are condensation/horizontal/falling and most commonly, rising damp.

The fourth tip is to create space. Amanda Richmond recommends creating a view from room to room, such as overlooking a lower level from an upper level or through placement of windows to capture the outside vista. Use colour to visually move between spaces, remember that darker colours advance, lighter colours retract. Define spaces by using contrasting materials and remember a fluid movement through the space helps create the illusion of more space.

Designer’s Tips On Renovating Your Kitchen

Kitchen Design by Amanda Richmond

Kitchen Design by Amanda Richmond – Armadale House

Amanda Richmond, Interior Designer at Balance Architecture + Interior Design has given us some great tips if you are considering renovating your kitchen.

 Decide what type of kitchen will suit the life you lead and what are the essential design elements to be considered.

Is it within a single room, a studio, a residential home, a warehouse or workspace? Is it for retired, elderly or disabled users? Is it for a family with children? Is it for a couple without children? Is it for a single person?

Do you need to conceal the cooking area when not in use?

You can use doors, blinds or curtains to do this.

All kitchen types will require an extractor fan of some type.

Do you want a range hood, in-bench extractor system or ceiling fan?

Children will need adequate space to be supervised in play and work.

Allow sufficient floor and table space away from the oven, cook top and sink for safety.

Will you use the kitchen as an office?

If so, do you need to allow for file storage, electronic usage/storage, layout space, keyboards/monitors/sound systems?

How often will you eat in the kitchen?

Design a separate area away from cooking and preparation.

Will the space accommodate the size of table and chairs you want?

Consider circulation spaces behind seated people and allow 600mm minimum per seating space.

Design for the minimum use of unnecessary steps.

Cook top, oven, fridge, sink and work top should be no more than a step or two from each other. Equipment used regularly should be within an arm’s reach of the stove, the rest should be stored farther away in a convenient location. As a general rule the total distance between fridge, sink and hotplate/oven/stove should be no more than 3.0m.

Kitchen design by Amanda Richmond

Kitchen design by Amanda Richmond -Travancore, Ascot Vale House

Amanda is a very experienced Designer and has designed some gorgeous kitchens for her clients. If you would prefer to use the services of an experienced Interior Designer please contact Amanda direct to make an appointment to discuss your new kitchen.


Considering Type & Placement of Windows in Renovations


Deepdene House

Amanda Richmond, Interior Designer, provides advice on choosing windows and frames.
The spaces in your home that will require the largest window area are your living area areas, so it’s very important to consider the orientation of your living areas and the best placement for windows to take advantage of the sun at the right time of day (for heating in the morning and coolness in the afternoon) and the available views to open up the space.  What type of window shading will you incorporate to ensure it does not get too hot in the interior? Do you have a verandah, do the eaves provide shade, what about a pergola? If you don’t have enough shade you could build a verandah or pergola or use other, simpler devices to provide shade and protection such as curtains, blinds or vinyl film on the windows.

The glazing of your windows is another important decision –you can use double glazing to keep out noise, a very good option if you live close to a busy street with traffic noise. Then there’s obscure glass, which lets in light while obscuring vision. These are often used in bathrooms and you can add a unique, decorative touch with a patterned version. Lead lighting is a highly decorative option for a feature window, usually placed in the main living space, the entry hallway or the front door. Sun shining through a lead light window creates gorgeous reflected colours and patterns, adding a further decorative enhancement.

Choosing a window frame depends on the look you want, performance and maintenance. Timber frames are highly energy efficient as they do not conduct heat but do require more maintenance than aluminium. Aluminium is a popular choice because it’s light, strong and requires little maintenance, but it’s not the most energy efficient choice, you can lose a great deal of heat through the frames in winter and gain unwanted heat in summer. A thermal break will minimise these effects, it’s an insulating material placed between the interior and the exterior elements of the window frame.

Amanda Richmond has a wealth of experience in renovating and decorating, being the chief Interior Designer at Balance Architecture + Interior Design. She will discuss glass safety in next week’s blog.

What can an Interior Designer do for you?

Interior Design by Amanda Richmond

Interior Design by Amanda Richmond – Essendon House

DIY interior decorating has been a big fad in recent times and there is certainly a place for doing it yourself but it’s also true that an Interior Designer will do it better. Like any other craft or trade, a professional will always have a bigger knowledge base at hand.  When it comes to using a professional Interior Designer you, the home owner, will be assured of a quality design that will enhance your lifestyle.

A professional Interior Designer will create space in and around existing Architecture, linking internal and outdoor spaces visually to create an aesthetic appeal, but also in a functional way, such as a kitchen/dining area opening out onto an outdoor living space. Tailoring design solutions to the individual needs of their clients, Interior Designers are clever at making spaces look luxurious at an affordable price. A professional, like Amanda Richmond of Balance Architecture + Interior Design, will advise you on the latest design trends and international trends in residential design.  She will also be across the latest trends for commercial and  hospitality interiors.

Golden advice, like new releases of furniture, soft furnishings, plumbing, lighting, tiling or paint finishes will ensure you have the latest and the best for your interiors.  Amanda Richmond will find the opportunities to fashion a point of difference in your home; ideas like creating a library, exercise room, contemplation space or cellar are the special extras you get from a professional Interior Designer. Having an expert design your interior pays off in many ways, not the least being the added value to your home.

Creating Space In Your Interior

Kitchen Design by Amanda Richmond

Kitchen Design by Amanda Richmond

Creating space is the holy grail of renovations, particularly when redesigning an older style or heritage home.  Older homes tend to have much smaller rooms, each with a designated purpose, whereas the modern style is to have large, open, multi-function spaces such as an open plan kitchen, dining, family room. Interior Designer, Amanda Richmond shares some of her top tips for creating space.  Amanda is the leading Designer for Balance Architecture + Interior Design.

Create a view
Create a view from room to room, overlooking a lower level from an upper level or create the classic view, looking outside to an exterior space from your interior. Create surprising juxtapositions, reveal views and bring light into the interior.
Use Colour
Colour helps to visually move between spaces – remember that darker colours advance, lighter colours retract. Find richness in plain materials and contrast textiles against leather.
Define spaces
With the use of contrasting materials you can better define spaces, such as darker skirtings, architraves and flooring against lighter coloured walls.
 Define individual spaces
A clever way to achieve this is to use half height partitions, such as for a toilet within a large bathroom.

Create fluidity
A fluid movement through the space helps create the illusion of  more space. This can be achieved by contrasting open plan spaces with overlapping wall planes or structural members. Some great examples are:
A glass balustrade staircase intersecting a void
A contrasting colour or material for ceiling rafters
Glass screens animated by the movement of water

With years of experience at renovating heritage buildings Amanda Richmond offers a unique perspective on the creation of space.  Contact Amanda directly to discuss how she can help you with your next renovation project.

Resolve Building Issues Before You Renovate

Ivanhoe House

Prevention is always better than cure! Identifying and resolving underlining building issues prior to decorating or renovating will save you time and money. So don’t jump into those renovations without checking out the health of your building first.  Interior Designer Amanda Richmond and Architect Andrew Fedorowicz from Balance Architecture + Interior Design say the things to look for are –

• Roofs & Walls out of alignment
• Ceiling discoloration suggesting roof leaks
• Damp patches
• Sudden leaks
• Bouncing floors
• Bulging, peeling plasterwork
• Unexplained cracking
• Persistent musky smell

Possible causes may be –
Blocked gutters, rising damp, defective internal plumbing fittings & fixtures, cracked roofing tiles, rusted gutters, inadequate internal box gutters, no roof overflow considerations, termite infestation, defective floor stumps/foundations, tree roots.

If you are a handy man or woman or have a handy man or woman friend or family member you can check out some of these issues fairly easily and resolve them.  However, most of these issues will require the services of a professional plumber or builder and, in the case of termites, a pest control company.  It is important to have any of these issues dealt with properly and resolved before you spend money on renovating or decorating your home as over time those problems will only get worse and ruin the effect of the renovations.

Imagine if you have just painted a room a lovely, fresh colour and the next thing you have a major leak from the ceiling down the walls or rising damp coming up the walls and ruining the paintwork?  It is just not worth the risk and heartache.  So please follow this wise advice from experienced, professional renovators Amanda Richmond and Andrew Fedorowicz and make sure you have a healthy building before you renovate!

Tuning Into Your Style For Interior Design

Renovation by Balance Architecture + Interior Design

Renovation by Balance Architecture + Interior Design

How do you define your personal taste when it comes to planning an interior design? If you are considering renovating or redecorating your whole house, bathroom, kitchen, bedrooms or living spaces, or if you have a newly built home, it is important to stamp your own personal style on your interior spaces.

To help define your own personal style, Interior Designer Amanda Richmond, who is incredibly experienced at renovating and redecorating interior spaces, suggests that you list spaces that appeal to you. Source your inspiration from houses you see, individual rooms you visit, shops you like, restaurants that appeal, films that inspire, books on design or photography, magazines on design, modern living or decorating spaces, design blogs and articles as well as fashion trends.

Define why these spaces or places appeal to you, what is evocative or meaningful to you – how did it look, what sounds did you hear, what smells reached you, how did you feel? Take into account the ventilation, light, movement, orientation, shape, space and harmony of the space and how it affected you.

To help you remember and delineate what your personal style is, keep a design file. Store images, fabrics or anything else that reminds you what appeals to you. Another clue to establishing your own personal style is to think about seasonal changes and what appeals to you. Consider colours, temperature, texture, smell. Add these to your design file too.

It is also critical to consider the nature of your location and how it impacts on your decision making process when renovating or building. For example if you live on beach frontage you need to offset the effects of salt water and offshore winds, so your external finishes will be chosen with this in mind as well as landscaping, which would have to be designed to suit to these conditions.  Balance Architecture + Interior Design have a wealth of experience, particularly in renovating heritage homes, so check them out for further inspiration.

Developing an Interior Redecoration or Renovation Game Plan

Renovated Living Room

Renovated Living Room – Essendon House

In our last blog we discussed some tips before you begin a renovation or redecoration of your home or a space within the home. Taking into account the purpose of the space and how it would best work for you and your family, comfort, heating, cooling, lighting, power outlets and storage space you should now have drawn up a wish list. Looking at this list what are the dominate issues and what are the priorities?

If it is an older style home or even a newer home will new technical systems resolve your issues, such as solar power, air-conditioning, LED lighting, a security alarm system?  Now is the time to make decisions about how much change is required to meet your desired outcomes.  Do you need to reorganise, redecorate or is a total renovation required? Once you have answered these questions it is time to prepare a budget, based on the decisions made.  Remember to make allowances for the length of time needed to complete the work and be aware that this may change the priority of items in your task list.

Once you have prepared your Game Plan for the redecoration or renovation of your home your next decision will be whether you will undertake the redecorating or renovating yourself or whether you will bring in a professional Interior Designer.  This will depend on budgetary restraints, your abilities and time restraints. If your budget allows, a professional interior design is nearly always better quality and will have some very unique touches. It also saves you a heap of time.  The tips from last week and this week’s blogs are provided by award winning Interior Designer Amanda Richmond from Balance Architecture + Interior Design.

An Interior Designer Asks Why Change an Interior?

Family room renovation by Amanda Richmond

Family room renovated by Amanda Richmond – Deepdene

If you are thinking about changing the interior of your home or a room like the kitchen or living room it is worth considering a few things first before you make the final decision to change it and set about ordering the new paint, drapes or lighting or even contacting an Interior Designer to professionally redesign the space. Amanda Richmond, a highly experienced Interior Designer from Balance Architecture + Interior Design, offers these tips before you start.

Firstly, list the positive and negative features of the space.  What works well, what doesn’t, what do you love about it and what do you want to get rid of? Add to the list the things in the space that need to change.  You need to give consideration to the purpose of the space, what is it used for, how best can it work for you and your family?  Can you anticipate changes to your lifestyle in the near or distant future that will affect the space to be redesigned?

You need to get down to the nitty gritty of the space and consider how well it works on a number of levels. Does anyone using the space have special needs? Is the atmosphere comfortable even when the outside temperature soars high or drops low? What about the artificial lighting in the space – does the type of lighting, where it’s positioned and the style of light fixtures and fittings suit your needs and taste?  An important issue, especially in older homes, are the power outlets.  Do you have enough? Are they in the right position? Storage is the other big need often not met, is there enough for your family in this space or do you need more?
Now you are ready to make the right decisions when renovating and redesigning your home so it becomes the type of space that caters to your family’s needs, reflects your personality and is a joy to inhabit.

Renovating A Californian Bungalow

Californian Bungalow

Californian Bungalow – Travancore, Ascot Vale House

The Californian bungalow was a popular house style in the United States from 1910 to 1939 and became popular in Australia from 1913 onwards, coinciding with the rise of the Hollywood film industry, which popularised American clothes, furniture, cars and houses. The original bungalows in the United States were built to meet the needs of the middle classes who were moving from apartments to private houses in great numbers. They were low cost, low profile and modest homes. The growing suburbs of cities like Sydney and Melbourne, with a similar climate to California, required a low cost solution for housing shortages, the Californian bungalow was a perfect fit.

Today a proliferation of Californian bungalows are to be found in many of the older suburbs of Melbourne, such as Moonee Ponds and Bentleigh. They are highly valued and a sympathetic renovation brings them up to date, improving their liveability and desirability as a family home. Balance Architecture + Interior Design recently renovated Californian bungalows in Travancore and Ascot Vale.
When walls were removed in the Travancore home, it opened up the entire rear living space, creating the effect of doubling the size. A new kitchen was installed with granite bench tops and European electrical and plumbing fixtures. The original pantry area was upgraded with granite benches as well as new shelving and preparation areas. The bathroom was renovated into a larger, multifunctional room with separate bath and shower facilities and, along with the Laundry & Powder Room, electrical mesh heating was laid under the tiles. Floor boards were replaced and windows repaired, including double glazing of a lead-light window.

The kitchen renovation in Ascot Vale was designed to be sympatico with the French provincial style, allow more light to the space and enough room for multiple users. The kitchen was moved to the dining area, giving it visual access to the lounge room and pool.  A new leadlight window was installed to increase light levels, while providing subtle colour, and sky domes pour daylight into a naturally dark, internal space. Blue Pearl polished granite benchtops reflect the light.

Architecture by Andrew Fedorowicz and interior design by Amanda Richmond.