Planning your home improvement part 1: pinning down what you want

Every year, lots of customers use their Zopa loans to renovate their homes. And while we help with your renovation finances, we know that’s just the start of it. So we asked interior design expert Kimberly Duran of Swoon Worthy, for her tips on how to go about planning that big renovation project

Millions of us embark on projects to improve our homes each year.

The good news? You don’t have to spend a lot. While kitchens and bathrooms often give the biggest returns, even smaller jobs can transform how you use a space, creating a home you love on a budget you can afford. 

Whether you’re spending £80 or £8000, approaching your home renovation in both practical as well as creative ways, will mean the end result is uniquely yours. If you’re ready to tackle your own home renovation project, our tips will help you get started and make the most from your investment.

How to assess the Space in four easy questions

One of the very first questions any good interior designer will ask their client is what the space will be used for. While you certainly don’t need to hire a professional to create your dream space, it’s a great place to start. 

  1. What will you really use the space for?

The answer may seem obvious – for example, “It’s our living room, we watch TV in there at night” – but you’ll need to think carefully about how the room will function in order to meet your requirements. Do you enjoy sprawling out on the sofa? How many people will be sitting in the room at the same time? Do you sometimes eat meals there? Do you like to entertain there? Do you want to use the space as a makeshift office if you work from home? Answering questions like this and really getting to heart of your functionality and storage requirements should be incorporated into your design.

  1. How’s the light quality?

You may also want to consider the light quality of the room, noting which way the room faces. You’ll have sun most of the day in a south-westerly facing room with warm golden light, whereas a north-easterly facing room will get a cooler blue light. This knowledge should guide your colour choices and you’ll begin to understand why the paint swatch you painted on the wall looks so wildly different from when you viewed it in the DIY store. Paint colours are notorious for changing depending on the light reflecting from it, so you’ll want to bear this in mind when choosing your colour scheme.

  1. How big is it?

Take measurements of the entire room, from the amount of floor space you have and how high your ceilings are, to the location of windows, radiators, doors and plug sockets. This will guide you in terms of your furniture placement as well as how traffic will flow through it. Keep these measurements with you whenever you shop for the space.

  1. What can you use that you already own?

Lastly, consider some of the items you already own. Few of us decorate a room entirely from scratch so think about how you might save money by utilising furniture, artwork or accessories that you already own and love. These items will not only impact the design but your overall  budget as well.

Finding Inspiration

One of the most exciting parts of any renovation project is gathering your inspiration. Whether you create a Pinterest board, tear through design magazines or save all the Instagram posts you’ve been loving, it’s important to get your imagination flowing with possibilities for your new space.

While looking for inspiration, be sure to remain realistic with your expectations. You may find yourself lusting over the tall ceilings and ornate cornice in a Parisian apartment but if you live in a 60’s semi with low ceilings and not a lot of original features, it may be a much better idea looking at homes that are similar to your own to see how to bring to life the home you already have.

Within the inspiration you’ve gathered, be sure to pay attention to things like colour schemes and styles and take note of any repeating themes in what you’ve gathered. You may see a similar style of furniture or specific colours running through multiple images. If you do, it’s likely these are the things you’ll want to incorporate into your own design.

Space assessed and inspiration found? It’s time to move on to Part 2 of our guide: Working out your budget.

Are you ready to get started? Head to to see your home improvement loan rate in just 3 minutes. You can apply online, with no fiddly paperwork and there’s no early repayment fees. Your loan is easy to manage on the Zopa app. Rep APR 17%

About Kimberly: From accessible design ideas and DIYs to styling tips, splurges and the latest trends, multi-award-winning content creator Kimberly Duran has been teaching others for over a decade how to create a home that’s packed full of personality, no matter what the budget. Through her blog Swoon Worthy, she invites readers into her journey of creating an “eclectic boho glam” home and the interior trends and styles that inspire those decisions.

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