The Block’s Darren Palmer answers the six most commonly-asked design questions 

The Block’s Darren Palmer has answered some of the most commonly-asked design questions – including how much you should spend and whether you should renovate or replace an item.

The 42-year-old – one of Australia’s most influential interior designers – also revealed how long you should spend on different renovations and what you should do first.

Darren, who is based in Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach, said the question of how much is a ‘tricky’ one.

The Block's Darren Palmer (pictured) has answered some of the most commonly-asked design questions - including how much you should spend and whether you should renovate or replace

The Block's Darren Palmer (pictured) has answered some of the most commonly-asked design questions - including how much you should spend and whether you should renovate or replace

The Block’s Darren Palmer (pictured) has answered some of the most commonly-asked design questions – including how much you should spend and whether you should renovate or replace

When it comes to how much you should spend on a renovation (pictured), Darren said you should set a budget and create a brief so you have a vague idea of where you're going

When it comes to how much you should spend on a renovation (pictured), Darren said you should set a budget and create a brief so you have a vague idea of where you're going

When it comes to how much you should spend on a renovation (pictured), Darren said you should set a budget and create a brief so you have a vague idea of where you’re going

How much should I spend?

‘It all depends on how much work there is and what the specifications and inclusions are,’ he told Domain.

The most important thing is to set a budget so you know what and where you plan to spend. 

If you don’t know how much things are likely to cost, then set a creative brief and visit an interior designer. 

They should be able to provide the solutions for your brief, so you don’t tip over into over-spending.

Darren (pictured) said a small project 'with store-bought items' can be done in days, while a bathroom or kitchen ought to take somewhere between one and three months

Darren (pictured) said a small project 'with store-bought items' can be done in days, while a bathroom or kitchen ought to take somewhere between one and three months

Darren (pictured) said a small project ‘with store-bought items’ can be done in days, while a bathroom or kitchen ought to take somewhere between one and three months

How long will it take?

While many of us set out with good intentions to get a home renovation done within a year, so often these things trickle on and on until they become interminable.

But according to Darren, it’s important to stick to a brief – and not become wrapped up in always improving.

He said a small project ‘with store-bought items’ can be done in days, while a bathroom or kitchen ought to take somewhere between one and three months.

‘A whole house can run for 12 to 24 months from first meeting to handover,’ he said. 

Should I refurbish, renovate or replace?

The age-old question of refurbish, renovate or replace doesn’t always have a clear answer.

But Darren said you need to take a rational and objective property and decide whether it needs just a lick of paint or something more labour intensive.

‘Re-configuring the internal layout by opening it up to light, space or views will transform a home and its interior,’ Darren said. 

On the other hand, if your house is ‘too far away from where you’d like it to be’, then you should re-build.

'The designer will lead you and guide you, but shouldn't steamroll or force you. It's your house and your choice because you have to live with it,' he said (pictured: a renovation)

'The designer will lead you and guide you, but shouldn't steamroll or force you. It's your house and your choice because you have to live with it,' he said (pictured: a renovation)

‘The designer will lead you and guide you, but shouldn’t steamroll or force you. It’s your house and your choice because you have to live with it,’ he said (pictured: a renovation)

What if I can’t decide?  

Often with renovations, Darren said in his experience clients aren’t quite sure what they want – and so need some guidance.

‘The designer will lead you and guide you, but shouldn’t steamroll or force you. It’s your house and your choice because you have to live with it,’ he said.

To make taking a professional’s advice easier, however, he said it’s best to compare an interior designer to a dentist or a solicitor.

You wouldn’t tell them how to fix your teeth or interpret the law. 

A designer is a professional with a set of skills you do not necessarily have.

If things go wrong, Darren (pictured) said the most important thing is that you have staged your payments to 'make sure there is leverage for them to return to fix anything that requires it'

If things go wrong, Darren (pictured) said the most important thing is that you have staged your payments to 'make sure there is leverage for them to return to fix anything that requires it'

If things go wrong, Darren (pictured) said the most important thing is that you have staged your payments to ‘make sure there is leverage for them to return to fix anything that requires it’

What do we do first? 

The question of what to do first is simple. 

Darren also said you should start with a ‘style and mood’ before you get bogged down with any specifics. 

What about if things go wrong?  

If and when things go wrong, Darren said the most important thing is that you have staged your payments to ‘make sure there is leverage for them to return to fix anything that requires it’.

‘The best suppliers and contractors all will have new projects beginning as yours is ending, so they will need to take important resources away from new business to get your project finished to the appropriate level,’ he said.

Rather than begrudging them this leeway, make sure you ask them to finish the job nicely. Good relationships go a long way in getting things done.   

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