Seven Ways to Achieve Wow Factor on a Budget
Introducing striking architectural features needn’t break the bank, explains architect Allan Corfield, who lists his seven top cost-effective ways of adding wow factor
Architect Alan Corfield explains how to make cost-effective architectural decisions that pack a big punch in your home
So you have decided to embark on a renovation project, or even opted to build your own dream home. Like the vast majority of self-builders and renovators in the UK, you will most likely be doing this as you want to have an input in the design process. This is brilliant as it leads to better-quality spaces which are more personal and tailored to your lifestyle, ultimately creating better homes. As it’s your project and you are going to be involved in the process, you have an unprecedented opportunity to add character as well as an element of wow factor. Traditionally we think of these features as kitchens or bathrooms, however there are other striking design elements – a statement staircase or window seat, for instance – which can be built into your new extension or home. You’re probably thinking that you can’t afford these on your budget? Fortunately, self-builders are renowned for being inventive and thinking outside of the box. If you do your research, use your budget wisely and hire the right designers, it’s possible to create wow factor on even the tightest of budgets. Turn over as I reveal my top seven features.
The primary reason for having a staircase is to travel from one floor to another. But they can add so much more to your home — a staircase can separate two living spaces within an open plan room, become a piece of art in its own right, and can even bring an element of fun to a home. Options can range from a standard off-the-shelf timber unit costing from £300, or (quite literally) rise all the way to a cool £20k+ for a sculptural floating design, for instance — so be very careful what you wish for!
Staircases can be made on site by a joiner, built and delivered to site by one of a growing number of online staircase companies, ready for your builder or carpenter to assemble, or be designed and fitted by a specialist company. Your final decision will probably come down to two areas: the complexity of the staircase design and what you can afford.
If you are opting for a traditional staircase then the chances are that your joiner will make this up on site, which gives you the chance to build in some storage — either a utilitarian cupboard with a door, or something a little more creative (with hidden storage in the treads, for example).
However, if you are going for something more contemporary and can’t afford to go to a specialist firm, then this is where you have to be a bit more creative. This floating stair (pictured), for instance, with timber treads and glass balustrade would have cost around £20,000 from a specialist firm. However, we went to a metal worker to fabricate the hidden steel, a timber floor company for the oak treads and a glass supplier for the balustrades; we split the work into packages and then brought it together on site. This meant that the client was paying standard rates for the parts, rather than higher rates from a specialist. The results paid off and this stair and balustrade came in at under £9k; it still looks amazing but cost a fraction of the price a specialist installer would have charged.