Quick fixes (paint, new appliances, door hardware) can give an old house a fresh look and will cost far less than a complete overhaul. It’s all about careful planning, smart choices, knowing where to spend and where to save to keep costs down. Here’s a 15-step guide to make your house look a million dollars on a budget.
CHECK THE FOUNDATIONS
If you’re buying a house, make sure you investigate any setbacks and the foundations before you buy. Replacement is expensive and disruptive. It’s always more cost-effective to maintain the footprint of the existing building.
MAKE ONE BIG CHANGE
Opt for one spectacular change. One of the best ways is to open up a ceiling. It’s not cheap, but it’s life changing.
KEEP THE SAME SIZE WINDOWS
Or make a fab change with really big windows or French doors. Increasing natural light is always a good investment. If you have single glass windows- even if they’re in decent shape- it may be worth replacing them with insulated windows, which will save money on heating and cooling and also help reduce sound.
DON’T MOVE PLUMBING
Use existing plumbing locations to keep the budget in check.
REMEMBER THE INSULATION
If you are opening up any internal walls, pop in insulation, particularly around bedrooms and bathrooms. It’s afforadable and helps reduce sound.
BENCHTOPS SET THE TONE
One word about benchtops. Resale. Whatever you usually spend pays off, in the long run. We recommend the latest quartz products which architects love for their colour accuracy, durability and low maintenance. Or Ikea has well-priced butcher-block benchtops worth investigating.
FORGET EXPENSIVE OVENS
Don’t buy an expensive commercial-style range or fridge, unless you are a serious cook or money is no object. There are plenty of mid-priced, great-looking appliances around. Start with what you can afford; then upgrade later. Better to splash out on custom cabinets and benchtops.
DOWNSIZE KITCHENS AND BATHROOMS
Kitchens and bathrooms have become luxury’s final frontier, a shrine of design and sinkhole of expenditure. As they are the most expensive areas of the house to build, opt for functionality over size.
BUY A GOOD LOO
The new ones are quiet and use less water. Most showrooms don’t have working models, so check reviews. In general, dual-flash models are a good option.
TRY SHOWER CURTAINS
Choose shower curtains over custom glass shower doors. Glass doors cost around the $1500 mark; great-looking shower curtains are almost free- and you can change them with your mood or season to create a new look. Plus, you don’t have to clean them constantly to keep the glass sparkling.
It is far more cost effective to do your lighting while renovating, than afterward. And don’t forget the dimmers; they enable you to control the lights (and mood) in any space.
RAID HARDWARE CHAINS
Hit chains like Bunnings or Ikea for sinks, kitchen and bathroom faucets, tiles, wallpaper, skylights, bathtubs, sinks, shelves, racks, for a lot less than usual. Most of what they offer could easily pass muster as a three-figure Italian design.
SPEND ON DOOR HARDWARE
You can spruce up anything with the right door hardware. If it’s right, you won’t notice it. If it’s wrong, your eye will go straight to it. Details that get used daily need to look great and work well, too.
It’s like make up. Versatile, cheap, easy to apply, fun to use and simple to change. With practice, you can use it to make a room look larger or smaller, wider or taller. The only difficult bit is deciding on colours.