Saunders interiors

Putting the heart into your home

with Tracey Saunders

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A Well-designed home is a design for life.

Developing the right space with fittings that add form, beauty and function are the pillars of excellent interior design.

Here Tracey Saunders takes us through the process.


Rising house prices and growing demand for space has meant a clear increase in the number of extensions and renovations being made to homes in West London. With clever design and management it can be more financially viable to renovate your present home and extend, than sell in order to get the extra space. The added bonus is you get to put your own stamp on the design.


Navigating the minefield of the planning permission required, building control applications, sourcing reliable builders and choosing from a plethora of materials can be daunting. Understanding costs and what is a competitive price is challenging. It is vital to engage the right professionals and have a clear indication of the cost of labour, materials and all miscellaneous expense such as planning and building control fees, before the build commences.


The correct permission from the council for both planning and building control needs to be in place and homeowners need to understand how long this process can take. An Interior Designer and an architect are essential to these projects.

New rules such as Permitted Development mean planning permission to build a loft conversion or extension, may not be required if the design adheres to specific regulations. Richmond Council offer a chargeable pre advice planning application service which means you can send in initial ideas or more detailed designs to get advice directly from a planning officer at the council as to whether an application may be rejected or if it comes under the permitted development rules.


An experienced Interior Designer and an architect deal with these rules on a daily basis. On average planning permission applications take 12 weeks and if rejected can be another 2 to 6 months before you have approval to commence the work. Anomalies of the rules exist if your property is a conservation area, or is a listed building. Building control will also still be required, even if planning isn’t. These are two separate bodies within the council and need to be approached as such.


In terms of basement construction, this can be complex but it is entirely possible to excavate and construct them below ground level of a house. This depends on the area and the building’s surroundings. Basements are standard in many houses throughout Europe, and basement creation on the footprint of a building can add a lot of space. New legislation means in some areas basements are not allowed on properties to protect the area, neighbouring properties and because the ground may be close to water. Building a basement requires real expert knowledge.


So do you use an architect or an Interior Designer? While an Architect will cover planning, design and construction of a building, they will focus on the outer design and structure of a building. An Interior Designer, however, can plan, coordinate, and manage such projects but focuses on the needs of those who will live in the building.


Interior Designers shape the experience of a space and focus on aspects such as lighting, volume, surface treatment and installations. We aim to create more aesthetically pleasing environments by using the full potential of an interior space.

Interior spaces do more than simply excite the eyes: they shape our lifestyle and well-being. Ideally an Interior Designer should be engaged right at the beginning of a project, at planning stage. The designer should work with the client and architect to plan out the space that will be sought for permission, or even before an architect is engaged to help the client know exactly what they want their property to achieve and then work with the architect to go through the necessary planning stages. Often people assume the interior designer is engaged once renovation has commenced. In reality this is too late. An experienced interior designer will assist with budget control, project manage, advise on pricing and complete planning drawings. At Saunders Interiors we offer a full service bridging the gap between the construction knowledge an architect has and bringing the ideas of the client to fruition.


The services available from architect firms and interior designers differ, as do costs. Architects tend to work on a percentage basis of the overall cost of a build and designers may charge a fixed fee.


Rather than imposing a signature style, our role is to bring to life a client’s vision. Sometimes people don’t know what they like but they generally know what they don’t like. As a designer we have to interpret the client’s taste and lifestyle and not impose our own. Renovating your home can be an inspiring, exciting experience but conversely stressful and expensive if the correct professionals are not engaged at the beginning.

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