How to save money on a renovation
Blowing the reno budget is never fun. Follow this handy savings guide and find out what you can scrimp on and what you should splurge on.
How to save money on a renovation
Coming in under budget on a renovation is everyone’s dream. The reality, though, is often very different, even when you’ve done what all the experts tell you and factored in unforeseen extras. However, cutting costs without compromising on your dream reno is possible with some thorough research, clever planning and good organisation.
Minimise plumbing changes
Keep the position and layout of bathrooms and kitchens roughly the same because moving plumbing isn’t cheap as it involves removing wall linings and making holes in flooring. Group the laundry, bathrooms and toilets together. If you have to reposition something, try to keep the move to a minimum.
Keep the same footprint
Building within the existing building footprint is the most cost-effective way to renovate. If you’re hoping to extend, make sure the foundations are up to it before you buy a property. Replacing them is expensive.
Paint floors rather than replace them
If floors are in bad shape or only covered in particle board, paint them with water-based enamel until you can afford better quality flooring.
Do your prep
Well before the builders arrive, get out to the hardware stores and builder’s depots to make sure you are very clear about what appliances and fixtures you want and what they cost. You need to brief your builder, electrician and other contractors precisely on these to avoid problems further down the track. Having to redo wiring after the walls have been lined because you wanted dimmer lights but didn’t advise the electrician can be very expensive.
Who does what?
Nowadays many contractors specialise in just one area – wall linings or joinery, for instance. Having regular conversations with tradespeople can avoid confusion.
Moving or removing walls costs money
Only knock out walls if it’s absolutely necessary. Sometimes moving just one wall will be enough to create a more open feel. Adding walls costs more, so if the space is too open-plan for your tastes, consider using furniture, flooring, rugs or screens to define different areas.
How to save money on lighting
Using track-, wall- or ceiling-mounted lighting, rather than recessed fittings, saves you money on labour (including cutting holes in the wall and ceiling) as well as the cost of fittings.
Organise your trades
Builders generally have their own preferred subtrades that they will organise, but if you are running the project yourself, figuring out who is responsible for each stage can be tricky. It’s cheaper and more efficient for each trade to come in at the right time, rather than having them come backwards and forwards or – even worse – all at the same time. This means having everything each contractor needs on site before they get there.
Don’t panic about sales
Some homeowners prefer to buy building materials and appliances on sale in advance of the build and keep them in storage until they are needed. Be aware, though, that things can change during construction and your pre-purchased appliances might not suit further down the track.
Aim to use standard sizes
Custom-made doors, windows and cabinetry are much more expensive than standard sizes. And it’s a lot cheaper to line rooms that are designed around the standard sheet size of plasterboard or plywood. Cutting and fitting them for odd-shaped rooms is also time-consuming and therefore expensive.
Materials matter when it comes to saving
Use materials such as Triboard, ply or grooved Ecoply lining which can simply be painted, instead of plasterboard which needs plastering as well as painting. That way, you eliminate at least one contractor.
Re-purpose furniture you already own
If you’ve got a good eye, look for interesting pieces of furniture that can be re-purposed as a kitchen island or bathroom vanity. Alternatively, buy secondhand kitchen or bathroom vanity cabinets online or from building supply auctions. Update the benchtop or the basin if necessary for a more contemporary look.
Get clever with cabinetry
Kitset cabinetry is cheaper than custom-made and you can always spend a bit more on the benchtop to give the kitchen some wow factor. Also, consider reusing the existing carcass and adding new doors and drawer fronts. As an alternative to extending the entire kitchen, try upgrading existing cabinetry with more space-efficient dividers, shelving and pull-out trays
Use paint to transform a space
Paint can instantly transform a space for not a lot of money. It’s cheaper to buy unfinished kitchen cabinetry and doors and paint them yourself if you have time. Make sure you work out exactly how much you need as it’s easy to over-order paint. Busy paint trade centres will often sell mis-tinted paint cheaply but always buy a premium brand.
Go mid-range with appliances
You don’t need to spend a fortune to get good appliances – there are some well-priced mid-range appliances on the market that offer top-of-the-line features. We love the new Haier French Door Refrigerator – it has a sophisticated look and feel, fits more than a standard fridge including full-width platters, and has adjustable coolness control for crispness.
Install light shafts
For dark bathrooms or hallways, rather than cutting holes in the cladding and rearranging framing for windows, or installing skylights in the ceiling, consider a light shaft or tube. It will be easier to install and cost a lot less.
Buy it yourself
When contractors pick up fixtures and fittings, they’ll often add a margin. Go to the supplier and pick them up yourself instead.
And buy right
Do your research on where to buy those materials and fixtures. Most retail showrooms have end-of-line or clearance sales on a regular basis. Try outlet stores, ‘factory seconds’ shops and stores that sell discounted display stock of curtains, lights and bathroom fittings. Check out the big-box hardware stores, too – the selection and quality are improving all the time.
6 things you need to do before you plan and design a new kitchen
Meticulous planning is the key to creating a new kitchen that looks great and functions efficiently
John van Doormaal from Innovative Kitchens has learned a thing or two about kitchen design during his more than 30 years in the business. He shares his top tips for creating a super-successful new kitchen:
Do as much research as you can before you engage a kitchen designer. Look at interiors magazines for inspiration, and put together a scrapbook or Pinterest page to take with you when you brief your kitchen designer. “This helps to give us a good idea of what style you are after,” says John.
Take a tape measure when you visit showhomes and kitchen showrooms, so you can get an idea of scale. “People often want more in the kitchen than they can actually fit,” says John. As part of John’s custom design service, he provides not just a detailed floor plan, but also computer imaging elevations that show the kitchen design in three dimensions.
Set yourself a budget before you brief your kitchen designer, and be clear about whether it includes just the cabinetry, or the plumber, electrician and appliances too. “Every job is different, and we can find a solution that will work with just about any budget,” says John
4. Know your appliances
Research your appliances early in the process, but don’t get pressured into buying them until you’ve checked with your kitchen designer to make sure they will work in your space
5. Consult the experts
Get expert advice. Even if you’re intending to buy pre-fabricated units, it’s worth paying for a couple of hours of a professional kitchen designer’s time to get the layout right first. “If you’ve never done it before you’re bound to make expensive mistakes,” says John. “But a designer like myself with years of experience will be able to look it over and give you quick advice on how to make it work. If you’re upfront and honest about your needs and wants, most designers will have no problem with it.”
6. Attend kitchen design seminars
At the least, attend a kitchen design seminar so you know what the process involves. “I do a few seminars a year,” says John. “Most of the response I get is that people had no idea how much there was to think about.” John’s seminar includes nine “red flags” that commonly trip up homeowners, including installing an induction hob without realising they need more power than usual, installing a rangehood without allowing for ducting, and positioning power points behind a glass splashback, to name a few.
30 genius decluttering hacks that will actually help keep your home tidy
The rules of decluttering are simple: get rid of any unwanted stuff, find a handy place for the items that remain, and endeavour to keep it there – how hard can it be?
1. Organise the chaos
Limit yourself to one small ‘dumping tray’ or ‘junk bowl’, where you keep odds and ends that don’t have a place. Think odd buttons, business cards and loose change. Choose something decorative so you’re more likely to keep the mess to a minimum.
2. Use tubes
Hang onto those cardboard tubes when you use up your paper towels or kitchen foil, and use them to store reusable plastic bags tidily in a drawer. You can also recycle wet-wipe canisters for this purpose.
3. Minimise your paper trail
Reduce paper clutter by taking photos of takeaway menus or flyers from local businesses. Likewise, download user manuals, credit card agreements and health insurance policies, and save them in a folder on your computer.
4. Kitchen tips
Free up bench space by attaching a magnetic strip under overhead kitchen cabinets to hold spice jars with metallic lids. Store frying pans, baking sheets, pot lids and cutting boards on their sides, using a filing rack or organiser.
5. Invest in a Lazy Susan
Who has time to rearrange the pantry or cupboards every time they want to reach something at the back? Invest in some lazy Susans for instant access to your items in just a spin. They’re also handy in the bathroom or laundry.
6. Utilise your fridge
Limited pantry space? Most dry goods can be kept in the refrigerator, too.
7. Try hidden storage options
Invest in double-duty furniture with hidden storage options. Think ottomans where you can hide throws and cushions, coffee tables with slide-out drawers for magazines, colouring books or puzzles, bench seats with shelving underneath or tall bookshelves with inbuilt cabinets for surplus vases and candles.
8. Bar carts
If space allows, set up a dining cart or station close to your dining table, much like they do in restaurants and cafes. Cutlery, placemats, napkins, glasses and condiments can all be stored in a small cupboard or trolley on wheels to save you making multiple trips to the kitchen every time you sit down to eat.
9. Store on the door
Over-the-door shoe hangers can be repurposed for kids’ belongings such as soft toys, craft supplies, dolls, action figures, cars and more. Reserve the higher pockets for any items that you’d like to keep out of reach.
10. Get creative with bathroom storage
Don’t have a built-in bathroom cabinet? Repurpose a dresser or drawers to keep extra towels and products on hand, or look for other storage solutions such as a ladder, stacked crates or a kitchen trolley on wheels.
11. Out of sight
Conceal office supplies such as folders, tax receipts and files inside a storage chest. Storage chests can also double as a great bench seating option.
Buy a pack of shower curtain rings – they’re surprisingly useful! Loop onto a hanger or piece of dowel to store belts, scarves, ties, handbags, hair ties, baseball caps, necklaces and more!
13. Colour code
Help little people find – and more importantly, put away – their belongings by assigning each child a different colour. Then you can buy them a storage tub with a toothbrush, towel, etc in that colour, or use coloured dots or thread to ‘label’ their belongings.
14. Brick tricks
Save your soles from stray Lego with clever storage solutions. Think a toolbox with pull-out drawers, storage tubs with colour-coded labels, compartmentalised craft organisers or a play mat and storage sack in one (a drawstring turns the mat into a sack!).
15. Book nooks
Not enough space for a bookshelf? Use picture ledges as floating shelves to display beautiful books.
16. Memory lane
If you’re guilty of hanging onto a high volume of things for nostalgic reasons but don’t have the storage space – take a photo of the keepsake and display the pic in an album or a frame.
17. Ice cube trays
Ice cube trays and kids’ paint palettes/trays are the perfect size for sorting small items such as earrings, rings and buttons.
Use a corkboard or pegboard to hang earrings, bracelets, rings and necklaces.
19. Magazine holders
Secure magazine holders to the inside of bathroom cabinets to store hairdryers and straighteners or under kitchen shelves for cookbooks and boards or oven mitts.
20. Shelf life
Install some shelving over your bathroom door to store everyday items for easy top-ups. Think toilet rolls, cleaning products, bars of soap and towels.
Store your clutches in a kitchen organiser rack. Meanwhile, a spice rack is the perfect little spot for nail polishes, lipsticks or essential oils.
22. On a ledge
Attach floating shelves to a timber bedhead to hold miscellaneous items such as reading glasses, books, a clock or framed photos.
23. Bath system
Store kids’ bath toys in wire fruit baskets suspended from your shower rod or frame.
24. Shoe shuffle
Sort your shoes into pairs and store in clear boxes stacked vertically on the floor of your wardrobe or on open shelves.
25. Use pegs
Hang your kids’ paintings rather than cluttering up the fridge. Set up a simple string-and-peg display system on an empty wall or along a window.
26. Use dividers
Tip your underwear drawer out onto the bed and discard any odd socks, worn-out bras or undies that have lost their elastic. Put everything that’s left back in the drawer, using dividers to keep items in their categories.
27. The coat-hanger trick
Try this Oprah-approved trick: hang all the clothes in your wardrobe with the hangers facing inwards. After you wear an item, hang it back up the opposite way. Every six months, do an inventory of the items that haven’t been worn and sell or donate them.
28. Limit your sheets
Cull your linen closet down to two sets of summer sheets and two of flannelette (if needed) per bed, plus two full sets of towels for each person. That’s seriously all you need – one set in use, one in the wash. Store each set of sheets in its matching pillowcase.
29. Car clutter
Keep a rubbish bag or empty box in the car for coffee cups, used tissues or gum, and empty it once a week. Likewise, a basket in the boot can come in handy for on-the-go items like hats, balls, picnic rugs, sunscreen and kids’ toys.
30. Road trip
Speaking of kids and cars, hang a canvas shoe organiser over the back of the driver’s or front passenger’s seat to store their (many) travel belongings, such as electronic devices and headphones, playing cards, colouring books and pens, dummies, snacks, sunnies, drink bottles and a few favourite toys.
These 10 interior trends are what you’ll be seeing everywhere in 2019
What will 2019 have in store? We’ve examined various interior forecasts and identified some top trends all interior enthusiasts can expect to see this year.
1. The new fiddle-leaf fig
The fiddle-leaf fig has dominated interiors for as long as indoor plants have been trendy, and rightly so, it’s got great structure, is easy-care and looks good in any setting. But another plant has stepped up to rival the fashionable fig’s top status; the bird-of-paradise (more commonly known as the banana plant).
Much like the fiddle-leaf fig, this plant has over-sized leaves and is relatively easy-care but what sets it apart is its blue and orange flower, which adds a dot of colour to a room.
2. Sustainable, handmade pieces
This trend has been in development for a couple of years now, and whilst 2018 gave it a good kick start, 2019 will really see it take off. Expect to see colours inspired by Mother Nature used alongside vintage and re-purposed pieces. Fast-fashion homeware takes a bow and leaves the stage to make way for unique, handmade pieces.
3. Purple, not pink
Millennial pink has reigned for a good few years but now it’s time for a new pastel hue to share the Insta-worthy, Pinterest-grabbing crown. Purple, or more accurately, a grey-lilac (a softer, more usable shade than Pantone’s 2018 colour of the year Ultra Violet) will be 2019’s ‘it’ hue.
And with this mauve-takeover, a move toward orange-based pinks (such as peach, apricot and coral) will begin to pick up.
4. Spaces without technology
Nowadays, our lives are saturated with technology, so, interior trends are responding and taking the opportunity to be the medium where we can be free from the screen. In 2019 you can expect to see a greater focus on hiding specific technologies, such as the TV, and incorporating them into a room using clever design, whether it’s a product like the Samsung Frame TV, or through cabinetry.
5. Home tech
But, we can never truly be without technology and as we go about trying to create tech-free zones in the house, other zones yield to the latest home-tech devices. Which, incidentally are still less obtrusive than their predecessors and are designed to blend in with the surrounding decor.
Voice-activated assistants such as Alexa and Google Home will become household regulars, their sleek designs sitting idly on kitchen and living room shelves. Portable speakers, too, have been given a face-lift, joining the ranks of other tech devices designed to stylishly sit next to art, objects and coffee table books without looking like a tech eye-sore.
6. Tonal looks
Forget the complimentary and contrasting colour schemes, tonal looks will be prevalent in 2019. What is a tonal look? That’s a great question. A tonal colour scheme is comprised of a set of hues that all originate from the same colour family, be it reds and pinks, a range of blues or a delightful mix of purple, mauve and grey.
A tonal colour scheme is relaxing and calming, it’s also a great way to incorporate bold, saturated colours into your home because they’re less intense when incorporated into a tonal look.
From curved archways to rounded furniture to swirly artwork, 2019 will bring the popular 60s curve back in vogue. Dulux colour specialist Davina Harper describes this as a response to the overarching trend she witnessed during Milan Design Week; wellness. Curves, she says, add softness to a room and help it to feel more inviting and relaxing.
8. Windows as walls
Framed with black steel, window walls or room dividers don’t only give a room a chic, minimal, industrial look but also add some architectural flair and allow light to flood in. Not just limited to dining or living rooms, steel-framed glass walls can also make great additions to bathrooms or bedrooms.
If you’re worried about privacy, installing curtains are an easy fix (they’re also a nice style addition with the softness of the material a welcome contrast against the hard steel and glass.)
It’s a little contradictory, (how can an anti-trend be a trend?), but Dulux colour specialist Davina Harper explains “anti-trend” is more about breaking the rules and creating your own.
The anti-trend trend encourages experimentation and energy in which colour plays a big role. Harper says she saw this trend embodied during Milan design week, where she saw unusual colour combinations, mixing patterns and unique feature walls.
The thing to remember with this trend is “anything goes.”
10. Dried flowers
If your mind instantly goes to the dust-ridden dried bouquets sitting in your grandmother’s house, you’d be forgiven for uttering a quiet “no” at hearing dried flowers are becoming popular again. But never fear, these aren’t the dust-ridden variety. Dried bouquets such as the kind Markantonia create are more sculptural than fussy.
Toi-toi rise to the top of the dried-flower trend, its tall, eye-catching shape making it a great addition to any room and its colour and look fitting in well with many styles.
Words by: Bea Taylor