First Home Makeover Tips

Jess and Roger are first-time home owners and moved into their four-bedroom, weatherboard cottage six months ago. While the outside was attractive, the couple found the house's interior had some problems. They had lots of ideas for changes and improvements but their current budget would only go so far.

The Challenge
The layout of the house was not practical with no clear flow between the rooms. The kitchen and dining area was shut away from the living area which meant entertaining was difficult. The kitchen was functional but needed to be restyled. The bathroom is very rundown and nothing short of a total overhaul was needed. Jobs had been started and not finished. There was no clear idea of style.

Jess and Roger's budget would not pay for all the things they wanted to do in their home and they were finding it difficult to choose what they could do now and what would have to wait.

The Makeover
With the help from HOME's stylist, Shannon Fricke, it was decided that an open-plan entertaining area would be the priority, integrating the kitchen, dining and living areas.

A professional builder was called in to remove an existing partition between the kitchen and living room. The wall was discovered to be load-bearing, which meant a support beam was needed in the ceiling before the wall could be pulled down. The completed job at mate's rates cost $3,300, and this also included the gyprock and architraves. This opened up the space and made a huge difference.

An electrician was used to remove power points from the old wall and relocate them to a new position. Electrical work is definitely for the professionals. This job cost $400.

The tiles in the kitchen were very dated and added to the old-fashioned look. This is a job you can do yourself. Shannon persuaded Roger to remove the old tiles and replace them with a more contemporary design in cream and white. The tiling cost just $305.

The walls were painted in a soft neutral colour in Dulux Desert Floor. We took the professional option, which cost $1,500 for both the labour and the paint but you can do this yourself.

In the kitchen, Roger painted over the fake wood laminate on the lower cupboards using a rich, chocolate brown colour. The colour of the upper units, a pale green hue was left giving the kitchen a retro look. The kitchen walls were painted the same as the living room.

The wooden floorboards were polished professionally with a dark chocolate stain using a red and black tint to blend in with the dark kitchen tiled floor. This process can be a very messy business. We opted once again to use a professional and the job cost $700, which broke down to around $25 per square metre.

Things to consider

  • Before knocking down any walls, check with a professional that they are not load-bearing.
  • Dare to go for a fashion statement when it comes to tiling. These days, tiles are not too difficult to change and you can do it yourself.

Given that Roger and Jess had absolutely no furniture worth keeping and a very tight budget, Shannon decided the easiest way to solve the problem was to buy as many of the furnishings as possible from the one place, IKEA. This is a fantastic place to start when it comes to furnishing a new home as the store offers modern designs at generally affordable prices.

Shannon managed to furnish the entire entertaining area for just $2,800:

Oland Birch Rattan Chair. They're a classic style, sleek and comfortable. The rattan version is particularly affordable and the natural material means that it will go with just about anything. Even if Jess and Roger eventually redecorate their living room, they'll easily be able to find a place for this somewhere else in the house. This chair is a great example of the IKEA philosophy of good design at an affordable price.

Ilen Olive Green TV Stand. This is perfect for Jess and Roger's living room. It's fun, funky and cute. It's on wheels so you can hide the TV away when you're not using it. But you don't have to necessarily use it as a TV cabinet - put two together and you have a different coffee table or they could be used as a bedside table. It's this incredible versatility that captures IKEA's design philosophy, "modern, but not trendy; functional yet attractive, human-centred and child-friendly."

Furniture Unit/Sideboard. This creative wooden system with glass shelves, round "windows" and internal lighting looks just fabulous and would have been great for Jess and Roger's living room if only there were more space. It'll be for another makeover.

Paper Lamps (stacked cubic light shades). Lighting can be very expensive if you go to a specialist lighting shop but IKEA has very trendy lights from as little as $15. Shannon loves the hanging cubes lights because as well as being functional they make a great feature.

Shannon also splashed out on some luxurious fabric for the curtains and cushions, at Designers Guild.

Things to consider:

  • At IKEA, read everything closely. Signs, hints, packaging; it's only by looking closely at the tags that you might discover your item is out of stock or self-assembly when you were hoping for an assembled item. Also, check out the signs that display that month's special offer.
  • If the idea of self-assembly is too daunting, IKEA can help for an extra charge or look up local assemblers.
  • Use the shopping lists and pencils located at the store entrance. Not only is it an excellent way to keep track of locations and names of items. Turn over and you'll find a map of the store, which includes the shortcuts.
  • It sounds obvious - but take your measurements before you go if you are looking for a specific item. IKEA does supply measuring tapes.

Equipment and Suppliers:

Designers Guild
79 Frenchmans Road
North Randwick NSW 2031
Ph: (02) 9326 5111

Harvey Norman

  • Spectra tiles in Crema @ $90psm

Blackwell's Building and Carpentry P/L
2 Wallaringa Close
Mt Colah NSW 2079
Ph: (02) 9476 2172

Prestige Cork
53 Hillview Street
Hornsby Heights NSW 2077
Ph: (02) 9482 2281
Mob: 0412 277 009

  • floor

Belling Painting and Decorating P/L
36 Beach Street
Curl Curl NSW 2096
Ph: (02) 9938 3756

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