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  • Writer's pictureSimon Wendt

How to renovate on a budget and get the most bang for your buck

Are 'mission brown' features haunting your home life? Are you sick of looking at those god-awful tiles and wondering who in their right mind would have manufactured them, let alone chosen to install them? You know you need to do some renovations, but where to start. These days tradespeople seem to charge like surgeons and when you add up the cost of materials, permits and labour, the cost involved in giving your home a lift can easily end up in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Thankfully there is a better way! With a little research, a determination for frugality and eye for what's fashionable, you too can achieve the streamlined look of modernity you may be craving. As a real estate agent since 1999, I have learnt much about this subject as sellers prepare their homes for sale, knowing the major difference it makes to the result.

The first step is to remove all the clutter. You will be amazed at the impact this has and whilst it is not a renovation as such, it will help bring the feeling of clean freshness in to your home. Check out what the professional home stagers are doing, which is creating a simpler, minimalist approach to home living. Less clutter means more open space and leading to the feeling of spaciousness in each room.

It is said that a coat of paint hides all sins! The statement is true and for a very small investment in a few tins of paint, if you are prepared to roll your sleeves up and do it yourself, you will be amazed at the difference it makes. Even if the current paint is still in good condition, a modern colour scheme will brighten up the blandest of interiors and exteriors reflecting more light and bringing a sense of unity between each of the spaces in a home. Paint can even be used to modernise dated tiles and out of fashion kitchen and bathroom cabinetry to bring the standard up to the 21st century, just make sure you ask for the right stuff at your local hardware shop.

A spruce up of the garden or courtyard can make a world of difference to the external appeal of a home and can transform shady, weedy spaces in to bright and welcoming alfresco areas perfect for entertaining. Begin with the street appeal and you will love coming home to your piece of paradise. Paint the fence, edge the lawn and nature strip, add a stepping stone path to your front porch. Replace any dead plants with hardy drought tolerant species bringing life and colour to your front garden. Entertaining spaces can be brought back to life by removing overgrown trees and shrubs, applying decking oil to raw timbers, pressure wash paving, windows and walls and make access to these areas easy and inviting.

After these affordable tricks have been enacted, the more expensive but still economical task of furniture placement or interior design can take place. Buying all new furniture works but is not cheap so you can instead consider recovering that old lounge suite, the structural styles don't change much but the fabric choices do. Find an upholsterer and some fabrics you like and begin to create a theme to your home within your decor. This might be a recurring colour, shape or texture. Sand back that old table and apply new lacquer for a shiny modern finish that makes it look brand new. I recently refinished a hand-me-down coffee table from the 1970s that was a daggy mission brown colour but now is a blonde, retro piece that is also a talking point with guests.

Replacement of light fittings and window coverings is cheap, will often not require the services of a tradesperson, can bring more light in to the home and makes a big difference to the overall aesthetic. Think roller blinds and discount lighting stores plus scanning the internet for sales and special prices.

Replacing or refinishing flooring surfaces can cost thousands but is still one of the cheapest ways to get a big bang for your buck in renovating your home. New carpets can be affordable to install if you shop around and will last for many years. Sanding and polishing timber floor boards can be done economically and professionally and brings new life into your rooms while replacing linoleum with a more modern design is an easy DIY project.

It is easy to renovate on a budget and with some forethought into the finished design and a determinedness towards keeping a budget, a very nice finished product will result and be enjoyed for many years to come.

For all real estate related information or advice, contact the author Simon Wendt, Licensed Estate Agent at Hockingstuart Mentone on 0407 040 706.

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