BEFORE YOU START
Don’t just rush headlong into everything you want to do. A bit of planning will make sure you complete each of your projects and have them looking their best.
Prioritise how you want to use your budget. You may want to spend the lot on one high impact makeover like the kitchen or bathroom, or spread it out across living areas and bedrooms to improve more of your house for the same amount.
Do your research.
Carefully work out how much each of your projects will cost so you don’t end up short. Keep track of what you’re spending and adjust your ambitions as you go.
- Everyone knows doing your own painting gives you the biggest bang for your renovating buck (check out the entryway below). Although not having to pay for labour is the biggest saver, there are ways you can save even more with these clever buying tips.
- Buying paint in bulk is cheapest, so choosing a colour that will work in many rooms means you can buy a larger tin of paint. If you use a different colour in each room you’ll need to buy smaller tins, which will be more expensive.
- Look for trade brands of paint. These can be a lot cheaper than more well-known retail brands. Make a saving by using them for undercoats and ceiling paint, then go for a more expensive paint for what counts: your final coats.
- Use the best quality brushes and rollers you can afford. A few bucks saved buying cheap equipment might end up costing more in the long run. Quality gear will give you a better finish, get the job done faster and use less paint.
As one of the signature rooms of the house, the kitchen is usually top of any makeover list. If it’s in reasonably good condition, it’s also a great candidate for a budget revamp. With the money you save doing it yourself you can splash out on big-ticket items like appliances or benchtops.
- Replacing handles is the first place to start. You can do it in just a few hours! Take the old handles to the shops and buy new ones that will fit in the holes drilled in the doors and drawers.
- Doing a full makeover? Start by getting rid of wall and floor linings that show your kitchen’s age (see pictures below). Rip up old lino – hopefully there’s lovely timber underneath just waiting to be sanded! Strip off old wallpaper then patch and paint walls and ceilings in a shade to suit your scheme!
- Cupboard doors can be repainted with a new colour. Make sure you prepare the doors by cleaning, sanding and priming properly before applying the final coats of enamel paint.
- To refresh your dated or dodgy benchtops, the only real option is replacement. You can cut down on the cost by going DIY. Standard lengths of benchtop are stocked at larger hardware stores so you just pick the one you like then cut and install. Certain suppliers have a ‘cut to measure’ service. You provide the measurements for your benchtops, they professionally cut them to size and then you install.
Just because retiling a bathroom isn’t an option when you’re on a tight budget, it doesn’t mean you can’t make big changes.
- Swapping over the vanity will make a huge difference to the overall look. For the biggest savings don’t just go for a bought one, build your own! Using laminated timber panels, you can go for a minimalist look with a single shelf (as above) or add more storage by building a box and hanging it from the wall (see below left). You’ll need a plumber but if you’re not moving anything around, it won’t be too expensive.
- The shower screen is another big feature which can be changed (see above). Once the realm of pros, now there are frameless options you can install yourself, saving cash.
- Update tapware for modern sparkle. Generally, it’s just a case of screwing the tap off the spindle and slipping the new ones back on. The screw fitting is usually the H and C cap on top. Take the old fittings to the hardware store so you get a new set to match your tap spindles.
- Change the colour of dated tiles and the bath using specialised tile paint. It comes as a complete system with a cleaner, primer and the paint itself. It can be tinted to thousands of colours so you can pick the one that fits in with your scheme.
- Cut out mouldy silicone and grout and replace. Paint mouldstained ceilings but make sure to properly prepare the surface so mould stains don’t show through.
BEDROOMS AND LIVING AREAS
Apart from a lick of paint, which will brighten up any room, there are loads of ways to freshen up bedrooms and living areas.
- Replacing window furnishings is easier and cheaper than it used to be! Large hardware stores carry roller and venetian blinds in a range of sizes to suit most windows. You can also install inexpensive sheers on a curtain rail.
- Laminate flooring is an affordable way to revamp. From $25/sqm, it’s DIY friendly (see inset).
- Exposed brick indoors is like a 70s time warp! Fake bricks can be pulled off and the wall replastered while a budget fix for solid bricks is to paint straight over them (see pictures below).
- Old carpet can really let a room down. If it’s in OK condition, give it a good clean – hire a steam cleaner to cut costs. If it’s beyond saving, rip it up ready for replacement.