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10 modest renovation ideas to make your house a home

A house from the street is mortar and bricks topped with tiles, the same as many others. A house is a home – a place where laughter happens and where you can rest at the end of a day. It’s a place where your lungs choose to fill a little deeper and your heart beats a little steadier.

We all want our house to feel like home, whether it is for yourself to enjoy or getting it ready to appeal to potential buyers. Are the walls looking dull or are your carpets looking stained- it might be time you give your house the attention it needs!

Here are ten things that can be done on a budget to ensure your home can look and feel at its best!

Photo by Pat Whelen on Unsplash
  1. Fresh paint

Often one of the first things your real estate agent would recommend would be to freshen up your house with a fresh lick of paint. If there is enough wiggle room in the budget, you would ideally do inside and out as this freshens up the inside by looking new, but also smelling new and the outside promises a more prominent kerb appeal.

It is important to keep in mind that feature walls might look nice to you, but when the time comes to sell, it’s not seen as ‘the in thing’ so best to stick to white for internally (Natural White/Whisper White) and soft colours externally like Dulux’s Tranquil retreat or Milton Moon.

Do’s

  • If you are confident in painting yourself, ensure you have all the necessary equipment, the correct paint and colour and the correct lighting. Skimping on the prep work might save time, but it won’t save you money!

Don’ts

  • Don’t paint in the dark – painting with poor lighting can result in patchy areas where the paint was applied too thinly.
  • Once you notice this the next day, you can’t just patch up the patches – you will need to repaint the whole section to ensure it is level which ends up costing you time and money.

2. Update flooring

Along with new paint, updating flooring is high on the list for refreshing your home. If you are still going to live in the home it will feel cleaner and if you are selling, the house would look years younger as the flooring looks and feels new and fresh.

Do’s

  • If you are going to sell, install new carpet
  • If your underlay is still good enough, no need to replace it as well although it might pay off in the end
  • If you go to replace the carpet and there are wooden floors underneath, might be worth sanding it back and reapplying a fresh coat of varnish as timber floors look more modern – this might also save you a few dollars
Living room with varnished timber flooring
Living room with beautiful varnished timber flooring, photo by Paul Fitzgerald
  • You can also go 50/50 and recarpet the bedrooms but keep the timber flooring in the living areas to push the energy rating (EER) up of the house
  • If you are still going to live in the house, by all means carpet clean the carpet as this will stretch it to last a bit longer

Don’ts

  • Do not just steam clean the carpets if it needs replacing – it will affect the sales price as people take this into consideration for their bidding/offers
Carpet in an apartment that has multiple stains due to everyday living
Carpet with stains, photo by Lila Greyling
  • Ensure you don’t choose what your favourite carpet is, you are not the one that is going to live there! Go for something that is on trend, but affordable like the Asthma and allergy friendly range from Choices Flooring, Brease – Kinsella (Santolina)

3. New window furnishings

A sure way to freshen up any room is through installing new window treatments. Ideally you would go for something more modern, like double roller blockout blinds but if that is out of the budget ensure to install quality curtains.

Another option, should you wish to take the freshen up look further, is to install plantation shutters. They were the original ‘window treatments’ and are a great way to add architectural and historical detail. They are wonderful for keeping out the cold in winter and oppressive heat from summer and are fairly easy to install.

Master bedroom with white plantation shutters and dark blue feature wall
Master bedroom with white plantation shutters, photo by Paul Fitzgerald

Do’s

  • Install new window treatments to all windows
  • Go for something more modern like blockout blinds or quality curtains in neutral and soft colours
  • If the budget allows, go a step further and install plantation shutters as this will further improve the look of the home but also the EER rating

Don’ts

  • Avoid blinds/curtains of colour and patterns, it can look good but limits the styling options (can’t add blue cushions to this room now can you?)
Living area with red and black patterned blinds
Living area with patterned blinds, photo by Paul Fitzgerald
  • You can save some money through not installing new window treatments to windows that are frosted like in bathrooms and separate toilets
  • Do not install low-cost curtains/blinds as this will affect the EER of the property
Bathroom with a shower and bath, the window is frosted
Bathrooms with frosted windows don’t necessarily need blinds, photo by Paul Fitzgerald

4. New kitchen appliances

Renovating a kitchen can be a headache and cost a fortune as there is a lot to take into consideration. Simply replacing your existing appliances will dramatically modernise your kitchen.

Do’s

  • Ensure you update ALL appliances – new oven, cooktop, rangehood and dishwasher
  • Go for a quality brands like Bosch, Miele or Fisher & Paykel
Modern white kitchen with stainless steel appliances
Modern white kitchen with stainless steel appliances, photo by Paul Fitzgerald

Don’ts

  • Try to avoid white appliances – stainless steel is more modern
  • Try to avoid low-cost brands

5. Update lighting

This is an easy option to freshen up any room. If the budget allows, you can install LED lighting which is more affordable in the long run. If the budget doesn’t allow for LED lighting, by just updating the light fittings over the batten globe lights, it’s already a step closer.

Do’s

Bedroom with batenglobe light fittings
Updating light fittings can be a minor update, photo by Paul Fitzgerald

Don’ts

  • Avoid gold fittings with the new gypsy balls/oyster lights, it clashes and looks tacky

6. Bathroom updates

As with a kitchen renovation, renovating a bathroom can cost a small fortune. Through updating a number of small things, the whole room can feel and look new.

Do’s

  • Vanities are used frequently and can start to swell and splinter due to water damage. Updating the vanity to a newer white style can improve the whole look of the room
  • If the budget doesn’t allow for new vanities, the cheaper option is to paint them (professionally) which will extend its life expectancy
  • Update all tapware to new stainless steel tapware (vanity, bath, shower etc)
  • Consider a dual flush toilet or versatile showerheads to ensure your bathroom is water efficient, an important consideration for potential buyers

Don’ts

  • Don’t replace the vanities unless you sell, if you do and decide to live there for a while longer they will incur cosmetic damage and you might have to repeat the whole process again once you are ready to move
  • Try to avoid funny shaped vanities and odd colours – white and soft/neutral colours will stay modern for a long time

7. Update cabinet handles

Replacing older or generic cabinet handles can make a room look completely different. Choose a simple, stainless steel, white or black design and replace all handles throughout the home to ensure consistency.

Do’s

  • Replace older handles with a simple design
  • Stick with neutral colours like stainless steel, black and white
Modern kitchen with soft grey tones and simple design black handles
Modern kitchen with soft grey tones, photo by Sidekix Media on Unsplash

Don’ts

  • Don’t choose a bright coloured handle – red handles on white cupboards might look good, but it’s not for everybody

8. Update ceiling extractor fans, outlet and light switch plates

Ceiling extractor fans, outlet and light switches tend to get super dirty with use, and they are really cheap to replace.

Do’s

  • Replace all extractor fans, outlet and light switches

Don’ts

  • Don’t pick and choose which ones to replace, it will look odd with some new some old – replace all
  • Resist the temptation to paint over the extractor fans, outlet and light switches to save money – it can look tacky as paint dries differently around the plastic

9. New silicon

We’ve all seen the ominous signs of aging silicon. First, it’s the brown tinge along the edges. Then the smooth skin has turned brittle and cracked, opening the way for mildew to take hold, or for water to trickle through and turn the walls and framing mushy.

Whether it’s around your sink, between the bath and the tile surrounding it, or covering the joints of your shower — it has got to go.

Vanity with patchy silicon
Vanity missing silicon, photo by Lila Greyling

Do’s

  • Replace the entire section of silicon as this will look new and fresh

Don’ts

  • Don’t patch up silicon that has come loose, the thickness might differ and it would be obvious that some parts are old

10. Upgrade landscaping

Landscaping and a good first impression can increase a home’s value. Updating and refreshing the plants you have in your garden doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg and it doesn’t have to look like a botanical garden.

Do’s

  • Get rid of all weeds and spray troublesome areas to ensure they don’t come back quickly
  • Refresh garden beds with fresh mulch
  • If you have a drastically patchy lawn – consider laying new turf

Don’ts

  • Don’t just leave the yard as it is – if you don’t do anything at least ensure it is cut back and tidy

With a few simple interior and exterior updates, you can give your property a boost in value without a hefty renovation or costly overhaul whether it is for yourself to enjoy for a few more years or to move to the next steppingstone in your property journey.

Best of luck turning your HOUSE into a HOME!