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Image / Editorial

Four experts offer their advice on some simple home improvements


By Kate Phelan
03rd Jul 2015
Four experts offer their advice on some simple home improvements

Got a burning question on home improvements you need answered? Our panel of home experts has you covered, on everything from cornicing queries to planning permission…


We love a good home renovation project, but we also know how stressful the double-edged sword of the home makeover can be, so we took it upon ourselves to assemble a panel of dedicated décor and home-improvement dynamos, from interior designers to architects, to give you advice on how to transform your home without the drama. Check out their expert answers to commonplace questions below.

Cumbersome Cornicing

QUESTION: I have lovely cornice work on my hall ceiling, which is about 200 years old. Sadly, it’s covered with so many layers of paint that you can hardly see any of the detail. Is there any quick method of stripping it back without risking it all crumbling off? – Liz, Dublin

Ornate cornicing in a French mansion. From the January-February 2015 issue of Image Interiors & Living magazine.
Ornate cornicing in a restored French mansion.

ANSWER: Removing paint from detailed areas can be time-consuming but it will look great in the end. You’ll have to strip off the built-up paint, which will probably be a mix of both oil-based and emulsion. If there are any cracked or flaky areas, remove these first to give you an idea of how thick the build-up is. You can buy ready-mixed paint stripper from any paint supplier. Depending on the number of layers of paint, you may need to repeat this process a few times to achieve the finish and detail you’d like, and always test a small section before taking on the whole job to ensure no mistakes happen. You need to be gentle so you don’t damage the details. A soft toothbrush and cocktail sticks will help with really detailed areas. Good luck! – Roisin Lafferty, KLD

 

Related: How to create a home office in a small space (and with limited levels of concentration)

Clear the table

QUESTIONI have a simple timber coffee table with nice lines, but the top is totally scuffed and stained. What can I do to bring it back to life? – Sarah, Athlone.

A restored wooden table painted with Annie Sloane Chalk paint from the home of fashion designer Jen O'Dwyer. From the March-April 2015 issue of Image Interiors & Living magazine.
Fashion designer Jen O’Dwyer’s lovingly restored kitchen table.

ANSWER: You’re in luck as there are some cheap and cheerful options available. The first option would be to sand and varnish the tabletop to bring it back to its former self. Alternatively, you could make a statement by painting the table a bold colour with durable furniture paint. If paint is not your forte, you could opt to cover the top of your coffee table in self-adhesive contact paper. Check out your local hardware store and you’ll be surprised at the number of patterns available (including faux stone ones). If you can’t find a pattern you like in-store, you can always order some online. – Alex Carberry, interior design and DIY enthusiast 

Window Worries

QUESTION: Can you replace a non-supporting internal wall with industrial steel-framed windows? Leah, Wexford

Fusion fabric-effect Italian porcelain tiles, Regan Tile Design. From the From the March-April 2015 issue of Image Interiors & Living magazine.
Fusion fabric-effect Italian porcelain tiles, Regan Tile Design.

ANSWER: If the wall is non-supporting, you can replace it with anything, but it’s always best to check with an engineer first before removing any walls. Most people think a wall that is hollow-sounding to the knock or is constructed from timber stud isn’t structural, but quite often it can be adding additional support to a floor or roof above. Industrial steel-framed-type windows are very popular right now and are a great look if done properly. Avoid cliches when using them though, steel doors and metro tiles will make your home look like a restaurant. John Kelly, architect and co-founder of Lyons Kelly

Related: Bright furniture options if pastel is not your vibe (and let’s be real, just not practical)

Porch Woes

QUESTIONOur house has a very ugly, small, glass entrance room/enclosed porch. How big a job is it to replace this with something better (and buggy-friendly)? Finn, Clontarf

This eco-house in Carlow has a west-facing porch made of larch. From Image Interiors & Living magazine.
An eco-house in Carlow with a west-facing porch.

ANSWER: Not having the exact details or dimensions of your porch, I’ll have to speak generally, but no job is too big, once you and your builder are clear on what you want. I always advise that you have a clear idea of the following and approach them in this order: function, how you want the room to work, and finish, how you want it to look. To start the process, for minor alterations (smaller adjustments to the existing porch to widen the door opening, fit shelving or painting), you could speak to an experienced builder. For major alterations (full removal of existing porch and new rebuild, which could require planning permission and structural designs), you may need an architect or engineer. I am biased here, but in many cases, an experienced builder can offer very helpful advice and will let you know if an architect would be required. Best of luck with whatever you decide! –   Doyle, Wallace Contracting


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