a renovation case study

One of my lovely clients was so kind as to describe in words her renovation experience. Here is her story:

“In 2006 when we bought our house (a nice maison de maitre from 1915) we decided to have all the essential renovations done that were necessary for us to be able to live safely and comfortably in it (central heating, sanding of wooden floors, painting of walls, electricity, etc). We did all these renovations before we moved in and got what we wanted. But there were are number of things that were left out in this first wave of renovations that we postponed to a later stage. None of them were particularly urgent because they were functional, even if far from pretty. This included our bathroom in brown and cork from the seventies, a very rustic and cold toilet, an unpractical and oddly shaped loft and our staircase painted in green and pink with dark green carpet.

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In late 2010 – after the birth of our second son –  we decided that it was time for more renovations. We got tired off our retro-bathroom, we did not seem to use the space properly and one, cold and uninviting toilet for the whole house did not seem to be enough any longer. We wanted to have a new and modern bathroom and make better use of the vast amount of space available. We also wanted to turn our old and rustic toilet into a bit of a confortable space which included a wash basin. In addition, there were some vague ideas of maybe renovating our loft, but ideally this was to be tackled at a later stage.

hen we met Francesca at the party of friends she had just finished renovating their house and we could study the impressive results. We decided to meet with Francesca and discuss our renovations plans with her. Over a series of discussions with Francesca our renovations plans took shape and expanded significantly. In all of this Francesca never imposed her ideas on us or pushed us in a particular direction. She simply helped us to find out what we wanted to change in our house (not just in the bathroom) and how we could best go about realising our plans. Francesca’s proposals very closely reflected our wishes and needs but at the same time were inventive, creative and often very different from what we had originally envisaged. We finally decided to undertake a fairly big renovations project which involved renovating the loft and adding a small showeroom (stage 1) and repartioning our old bathroom and turning it into a modern bathroom as well as some storage space. A very brave decision (especially seen from hind side) as we would stay in our house and move to different floors during the duration of the renovations project.

We were reassured in our courage by Francesca’s meticulous planning and organisation and in the choice of her main contractor, Andrzej, who turned out to be extremely professional and very considerate vis-a-vis our family situation. While living in our house during the period of renovations was a testing experience at times we never regretted that we had undertaken this adventure together. This was due to Francesca’s excellent project management and Andrzej’s unfailing commitment to deliver a high quality product, on time and with happy clients. We could always rely on Francesca to keep us focused and organised, anticipate potential problems, deal with issues and problems and answer an endless series of questions. Francesca did not only oversee the renovations but helped us a great deal in sourcing the necessary equipment and furnishings. This in turn helped us to save a lot of time, energy and money. Moreover, Francesca turned out to be a fantastic style guide – she understood very well how we wanted to new spaces to look like and helped us to realise our ambitions. In all of this she was very mindful of our tastes, needs and our budget.

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We are extremely happy with the final result of our renovations.  Our house has completely changed and the whole family, including the kids, is enjoying the new spaces immensely. Even our house itself seems to be happy and relieved that it has shed some of its ugly ‘skins’ and that it has found back to its early 20th century style and grace. There are no more unloved and derelict spaces and we are using the house to its full potential. I have even become addicted to having baths now and I enjoy climbing the beautiful wooden stairs. In a nutshell: despite the turbulent and dusty existence of the last six months it has all been worth it. I am very happy that we undertook this adventure but I am also very conscious that we have been very fortunate to have had such a positive process as well as outcome.

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The key to all of this has been Francesca. Her knowledge and skills as an architect and interior designer have helped us to find the most functional and yet most attractive solutions. Her choice of contractors and suppliers has ensured that we have ended up with a high quality but affordable final product. Francesca’s project management and organisational skills have kept us on track and on budget and allowed us to keep on doing our jobs and living our busy lives. Her communication and social skills have ensured that nothing got left out and everybody was included in the process. Above all Francesca’s respectful and diplomatic manner, her integrity and sense of humour has turned a potentially very disruptive and invasive process into a fundamentally enjoyable and positive experience.”

Michaela B., Brussels