I'm sure we've all sat in front of the TV waiting to see what transformation has been applied to a fashion make-over, maybe a nip and tuck, a garden revamp or of course a home renovation. HOW WE LOVE the comparison of Before and After shots, achieving an instant understanding of how dramatically people, or rooms, can change under the expert guidance of the professionals. Like magic, Cinderella is suddenly a Princess, at the swoop of a magic wand. But don't be fooled into thinking that change is easy, because despite the few seconds that separate those Before from After shots in TV land, believe me, to achieve that transformation it took lots of work, time was required, and money was invested... yet, isn't it great to see it in a moment?
Those Before & After pictures firstly have the important role of reminding us what the world looked like before we applied our magic touch. In fact, without these we might forget just how bad things really were before we were pushed towards a renovation, and when the job is done, we might just be so tired of painting walls and moving furniture before we drag ourselves over the finish line, that a thought could infiltrate our minds: 'why did I even do this?' In these photos below you can clearly see how dramatically this space has changed, where I suggested only a few but important cosmetic changes to the existing colour scheme. The wall colour and floor tiles remained, but the skirting and timber trim is now painted in a more crisp white (providing clean contrast) the internal doors painted in an almost black for a modern yet traditional look, the handrails sanded and now stained in charcoal grey, and of course the new carpet on the staircase also in a rich charcoal tone... what a difference and so truly worthwhile! Amazing right?
Do I take Before & After shots? Yes! All the time, because this helps me first of all to document with my clients the progress of their property as it happens; also it helps me understand what changes were successful and which ones could be done differently (the continuous learning challenge of Interior and Exterior Design... which I love!). Despite the exterior finishes being selected well before the house is even built, sometimes change is necessary as you go along, for various reasons such as the colour not being quiet the same as the swatch or perhaps the clients change of mind... In these photos below you can clearly see some differences between the two photos of the same house, the most dramatic one being the colour of the render, quite different from the initial idea as shown by the swatches on the wall in the older pic. The first floor of this was also to have been a "V Groove" board, which changed during construction, (a not uncommon situation when building displays homes). Ultimately, we chose to create greater contrast by going with an almost white, and darker in other details. Funny.... I'm almost wearing the colours of the new scheme!, inspiration is everywhere.
Documenting the building of a new kitchen will give you not only the satisfaction of seeing the transformation you have achieved, but will also help you create a diary, where all the meticulous details you have chosen are listed and documented. Although I always have small swatches and samples of my proposed finishes, an image is an easy way to transport and explain the space to others when purchasing decor items etc, instead of dragging a sample of timber doors and stone bench-tops in the car. In fact, good showrooms have in-store designers and stylists that will find it much easier to help you with your purchases when given the chance to see your room and the finishes that need complementing.
Even if you're blessed with good talking skills (some of you already know how hard it may be to keep me quiet, LOL) there are sometimes things that words cannot truly describe, but an image can. I take pictures of house details that will help me show my future clients what a particular feature looks like and what it takes to build it, for example. Pictures help me avoid confused faces and achieve the "Aahh!" moment. The pictures below clearly explain how those overhead kitchen cabinets are installed, and suspended in front of the window, providing brightness and a contemporary feel to the kitchen, but also achieving a beautiful looks from the outside.
So, when it comes to that Before & After effect, I'm not sure if you have a magic wand, but I don't, so to keep track of the hard work and quickly remind yourself of what the room or the house used to look like, use your camera or smart-phone. If you too are in Design and Styling, or if you're planning to, or going through any kind of renovation, I suggest taking pictures, before you even start the process, then through the different stages, and if possible from the same standing point. Looking at your visual diary will give you the possibility to see and re-live the transformation, rejoicing with what worked and helping you to learn from what didn't end up quite as planned.
Take photos to:
document the progress of the job
enjoy the improvements achieved
learn from the entire process
James Treble is an ambassador for Planet Ark and firmly believes in sensible purchasing, recycling and creative re-purposing. James has 3 decades of accumulated experience in the Building Industry, Real Estate and Interior Design. His knowledge and experience in adding value to homes, through clever design & styling, is now published for all to learn and benefit from: Interior Design For Profit is now available online.