There’s no denying it – renovating is stressful. Especially if you haven’t done major renovations before and don’t know what to expect. The best way to prepare for this time of change is to plan. Darren Palmer, Interior Designer and Judge on the Block shares some expert tips on first time renovating for what to save on and what to spend on whilst renovating and how to add value to your property as you go!
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First and foremost you must fix the largest issues with the simplest solutions. These are usually things like flow and floor plan. Look at the way your property is laid out.
Do you have proximity issues, things like having a toilet next to a dining area or the kitchen and dining at opposite ends of the house?
Are bedrooms located facing noisy streets or living areas located in the darkest recesses of the centre of the home?
These simple re-shuffling of where rooms are placed can bring about a major change in any floor plan – and often those things are what will put other buyers off a property, making it easier for you to buy them, and when fixed will more easily attract the right kind of buyer.
When I say simple, the changes required may be structural, like pulling down walls to open up living spaces, they may mean moving doorways to achieve better flow, or rectifying ceilings and walls where new openings have been created. Some of those things will require an engineer’s report, Council DAs and builder involvement but they are most definitely the things that will create the biggest change in a property.
Secondly, you need to present the property in its best light.
It’s said that kitchens and bathrooms sell homes. Kitchens and bathrooms though are also the top 2 in terms of spend to replace new for old. With that in mind, if you have a functional but otherwise unappealing layout in a kitchen or bathroom you can always “reskin” them.
By this I mean using the existing carcasses in the kitchen you can replace door and drawer fronts, provide a new benchtop and you’ll have a kitchen with near to new appeal. The same can be said for tiling over an existing bathroom. There are plenty of tiles on the market now that are 4mm thick, allowing you to tile directly over existing tiles – providing that existing tiles are well adhered to their bed and that waterproof membranes are intact and working well. The benefit of these thin tiles is that you can simply replace tapware, tile over existing tiles and not dramatically affect the floor level at the transition into the room. You also don’t run the risk of loosing valuable floor space by making the walls creep in. The saving on labour and materials is massive and you could achieve a fresh new look for a fraction of the cost of a new for old replacement.
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You also need to think about light or the lack thereof in some cases, and lighting in general. Make sure that you either bring in as much light from the outside as possible or work with very dark spaces to make them seem moody and dramatic. Lighter colours and reflective surfaces will make the most of any light you can capture through the windows, or if you are faced with a low lit room, like a bedroom for example, then push the palette into the deeper darker moodier colour range.
Use drapery and soft furnishings and layer a cocooning feeling into your space. Think about lighting your property in interesting and effective ways. Lighting on top of cabinets that spray the ceiling, wall sconces instead of oyster lights when faced with slab ceilings, and small details like recessing tread lights into walls, these are the small touches that add real luxury appeal.
Don’t allow your electrician to design a grid pattern of halogen lighting for your ceiling – these layouts create an even distribution of light, which would be great for a laboratory or workspace, but terrible in homes where drama is created through the contrast of light and shade.
Architectural details are another very effective and generally cost-effective way to add drama and impact in a property. Altering the thickness of columns, hiding strange or out of place old features such as unused corner fireplaces, making grand archways out of old doorways, and creating nib walls with interesting niches to contain books or sculptural items; all of these architectural details will take just a little time in design, and a few days of a gyprocker’s time – but return you handsomely by tidying up the lines of your property and creating talking points and design features.
The last thing to think about but by no means the least important would be the overall presentation of your property. A congruent and well thought out colour scheme, with an idea behind it, will present your property in its best light. Don’t be afraid of using colour, wallpaper, texture or whatever else fits into a creative vision you have for your property.
The key here though is to think about the end buyer, who they are, what they like, what they’ll expect and what you can do to surprise and excite them by exceeding their expectations. You need to think about the area your property is situated, who the people are that are aspiring to buy there and design a scheme that is targeted to them. The important thing is to create the feeling you want them to have when they enter your property on inspection. Consider the colours, textures, fixtures and finishes that add up to a well thought out, cohesive and considered interior.
Don’t feel you need to play it safe by doing beige and grey everywhere. This is a trap most people fall into due to fear or not having the confidence that they know what people want. If in doubt visit open homes in the area your property is located and see how people are responding to finishes and colours. It’s my personal view that a bold interior with impact will inspire a far more passionate response from the buyer you’re after.
Have a bold, yet considered approach to the presentation of your property and you’ll get the right buyer’s heart racing.
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