By John McGrath
With so many great renovating and home decorating shows on TV these days, it’s no wonder people get inspired to make over their own homes. But ripping out entire rooms – which is what we usually see on TV – is not always required to achieve a great new look.
There are plenty of cheap and easy ways to give your home a facelift without going to the expense of total replacement. You could literally save thousands of dollars if you just do a little research and have a good walk around your local hardware store.
Here is a list of cheap, quick and easy ways to smarten up your home:
Nothing lifts the look and feel of a home better than a fresh coat of paint. Painting a whole house professionally is expensive, so you can save a lot by doing it yourself.
I recommend neutral colours, which allows you plenty of flexibility with furniture colours. Talk to an expert about gloss versus matte and colour selection. A quick way of doing things is to pick a neutral colour for the walls and then paint the doors, door frames, skirtings, architraves and ceilings in simple white.
Consider a mould-resistant paint for the bathroom and laundry. If you have children, look at wash and wear paints so you can wipe off marks more easily.
2. New window coverings
Replace old-style options, like venetian blinds and long curtains, with more modern options like plantation shutters or roman blinds in neutral colours.
3. Install a skylight
If your property is dark, skylights are your best friend. Bringing in more natural light will have an immediate and lasting effect on the ambience of your home.
4. Replace light fittings
If you’re on a budget, I’d go for one or two designer light fittings – such as pendant lights in the main living areas – and cheaper, simple and uniform fittings in the other rooms.
5. Replace wall light switch covers
This is a really cheap, but effective way of making every room look smarter. Many older style homes have plain white light switch covers. If they’re looking grubby or old fashioned, consider silver, stainless steel or a more modern white cover. You’ll pay about $6.50 for a typical single switch silver cover at Bunnings.
6. Steam clean carpets before considering replacing them
Some carpets are so worn out that nothing will save them – in which case, replace. However if your carpets are in good condition, but just a bit grubby with some stains and marks, try professional steam cleaning before you spend thousands of dollars replacing them.
7. Replace door, drawer and cupboard handles
This very low cost change will have a big impact. Try to find new handles that are similar in length and shape to your current ones, so you can place them over the holes from your previous handles – no filling required.
8. Upgrade the garden with simple tricks
Bark mulch is a simple, low-cost way of making your garden look stylish and neat. It will also reduce weeds and the garden will require less watering. In terms of plants, large gardens can look great with a big range of plant varieties, but small gardens tend to look better with just a few types of plants. Avoid deciduous plants (unless you enjoy raking leaves every weekend!) and instead target cheap evergreen varieties in similar shades of green.
9. Consider quick kitchen updates
Depending on what your kitchen cabinets are made of, you might be able to paint them if they’re still in good condition. Same goes for splashback tiles. Old laminate benchtops can be painted in another colour or even a stone-look laminate paint.
Alternatively, contact a kitchen company about refacing (brand new cabinet doors and drawer fronts with a matching veneer placed over existing cabinet boxes) or refinishing (painting/staining all existing cabinetry).
You’ll be looking at a few thousand dollars to refinish, several thousand to reface, and tens of thousands to replace (unless you go for a simple flat pack kitchen, which is a great replacement option for lower priced properties).
10. Consider quick bathroom updates
Resurfacing your tiles and bathtub is much cheaper than replacement. Even bathrooms in darker colours can be sprayed a brilliant white. Alternatively, you can paint the tiles yourself, but get advice first and make sure you use a primer.
If you want to replace the tiles, consider cheap ceramic tiles with a marble-like pattern or natural stone look. Also, replace your old shower frame with frameless glass – it’s far easier to keep clean and the extra expense of glass over a new aluminium frame is worth it!
When doing any kind of renovations, you need to consider what actually suits your home. I also recommend keeping re-sale in mind, even if you intend to stay put for the foreseeable future.
For example, if you own a modest home at the more affordable end of the price scale, don’t go tiling the bathroom with travertine stone because buyers in your price bracket will not pay more for that. Equally, if you’re renovating a larger home at the middle to higher end of the price scale, don’t use cheap ceramic tiles when your buyers will expect travertine.
If you need help making decisions, contact a local agent. Good agents will be more than willing to give you advice even if you have no plans to sell, so why not leverage their expertise to help you make the right call on your next round of home improvements?
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