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By Abigail BARNES (Interior Architect @ Maison Bretagne Interiors)

Getting started

Our Interiors team was recently asked by a client to help them plan the refurbishment of three existing areas. This consisted of; two en suite bedrooms and a cloakroom area of ​​the mansion at Ville Durand in Etables sur Mer. Keen to provide clear instructions to the artisans they employ, the client requested help to deliver their vision. Ultimately the focus was to deliver a project in the style that was befitting to the historically rich character property.

In this blog, I explain the process followed for one of the bedrooms, from the first meeting with the client, through the initial brief and the final stages of the renovation work.

Refurbishment of bedroom
‘Blue’ bedroom before works

The initial interior design brief 

The main object of the brief from the client, was to inject glamor into a bedroom and en suite bathroom. The decor in the room was looking tired and needed some attention. I identified during the onsite visit that the bathroom configuration and separate toilet cubicle was a poor use of space. It was also dimly lit and claustrophobic. The first thing I suggested was to relocate the whole en suite to the adjacent wall and allow daylight into the space. I proposed to integrate a new shower and WC into the new space and add a small dividing half height wall for privacy.

As an interior architect, I believe a large part of my job is to identify the most practical use of a space. No matter how small, the aim is to really think about how a person or people will exist within it. I begin considering the clients needs and whether or not the flow of the space makes sense.

The next stage is to understand the unique style of a client, which can take time and much discussion. Our mission is to discover what is important to them and then try and deliver a well thought out project. Once we have this criteria to hand the preparatory works can begin.

Creating a plan

My first priority was to accurately measure the existing bedroom, adjoining bathroom and toilet . I then returned to the office and start designing the layout. Working on «Sketch-Up» I began to reconfigure the space as perceived onsite. The client had told me that this room would be rented out to guests of their bed and breakfast. From this I knew the space had to be both functional and comfortable to relax in. A clear idea of their interior specifications, made things easier when sourcing tile and paint colours for finishing touches.

Interior Design
Blue bedroom and en suite initial plan

Spacial planning – some problems along the way.

To keep the new ensuite from becoming too long and too thin, I added a separate built-in closet area. This was to sit to the right of the new configuration for extra storage and a walk-in closet. Of course, there were some difficult elements along the way. This happens with a lot of projects carried out in older buildings and often requires a rethink to make the new configurations work. For example on this project, an old fuse box was awkwardly mounted on the wall inside the existing toilet. This was unsightly and required a box to be built to cover it. The floor and ceiling also needed extensive repairs where the old partition wall once stood. However, after discussing these issues with our craftsmen, I quickly found simple and effective solutions.

Important to remember

Communication is of upmost importance when carrying out a project from design stage to completion. It essential to explain the vision of the client to the artisans through the plans and renders we create. It is also invaluable to draw on the expertise and knowledge of well seasoned tradespeople so that troubleshooting can be done effectively.

Creating a technical plan

Additional plumbing and electrical work also needed to be completed. This entailed the addition and updating of light switches and sockets. An existing radiator also needed to be moved and was replaced with a heated towel rail. I then developed an electrical and plumbing plan to help the tradesman understand the agreed upon requirements.

A complete set of floor plans and 3D renderings of the space were also provided to each tradesman involved in the renovation process, namely the builder, electrician and plumber. This makes it easy for everyone to follow and sets a clear time frame to work from.

Interior Architecture
Electrical plan
Interior architecture
Electrical plan key

Top tip:

I found it handy to have a copy of the A3 plan on hand when we had mid-project meetings so we could make comments/changes as needed and then distribute the updates to everyone involved. After the client approves the layout, I usually provide a 3D rendered image as shown above. This helps to visualise the project on a global scale and allows artisans to evaluate the spatial planning of the space.

Interior decoration: Sourcing

After submitting the completed interior design project to the craftsman and beginning the fit-out work, the next task was to source decorative elements. Tiles, fixtures and fittings and furniture for the en suite and bedroom were sourced from various suppliers. These choices are made in close collaboration with the clients. Maison Bretagne’s extensive database of suppliers enables our team to source similar, if not exact products required.

For reference:

I used Torchio @ for tiles sourcing and Album Famille @ for light fixtures and fittings.

Project management

Throughout the project I was in regular contact with the client via Skype, as they were in the US. I and others on the team also regularly communicated with the various artisans on site. This way the design was adhered to as closely as possible. This process is necessary to ensure that the desired appearance of the finished room is achieved. It also means that the work runs more smoothly and is effectuated within the required time frame.

As the work developed I took photos of each stage to send to the client in report form. This is particularly important when a client is not onsite. So that they can be actively involved and informed about the project the creation of this visual report is key.

Ultimately, with good organisation and quality craftsmanship from the artisans, the works were achieved. There was a good coherence with the initial designs and the clients were delivered the new bedroom and en-suite they wanted.

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