It’s a strange thing, but often people don’t notice the deterioration of their house and decor. A gradual process, which passes you by, until one day, a neighbour calls in unexpectedly, or a long-lost family member arrives on vacation or visits, and you suddenly realise your home needs some serious and unique home improvement ideas.
Maybe you’ve been secretly hoping for a new kitchen when you saw what they’d done next door at their last barbecue. Or that timber with the deck stain is calling out to you every time you look over the garden fence at the other neighbour.
You just know it will take gallons of timber floor cleaner to come close to the finish you want – and it really is time to get it sorted or invest in a new one.
The problem is that once you get started looking around, you’ll begin to see things you hadn’t noticed before – and it all adds up.
These days there’s so much variety and so many trends to follow that it’s difficult to know where to start with any budget-friendly home renovation ideas.
This is especially true if you really don’t know what you want and don’t have a style of your own.
Some people love to have a retro look and feel to their home and will search high and low for the 1950s or 1960s furniture, fixtures, and fittings. Others are more modern and like to go for a more contemporary look with everything from their bonzer reception chairs and coffee tables to their dazzlingly cool bedroom suite.
You needn’t spend a fortune though. It’s surprisingly easy to transform your home in a completely budget-friendly way if you are clever about it and prepared to compromise a little.
That deck, for example. There’s no need to buy an expensive timber floor cleaner. You can make your own – just mix white vinegar with water and some elbow grease and once it all dries, it will be all but impossible to tell the difference between the finishes. Then you’re all set to varnish.
Often, bigger stores will have sales or special offers at a particular time of year, or a manufacturer is having the promotion or finishing production of a product.
Tiles, wallpaper, laminate flooring, paint, even tools can be found for cheap home repair ideas at a fraction of the original cost. New home design needn’t mean that you have to buy everything full price, or just because it’s in the latest catalogue or advertisement.
Unless you are a professional builder, woodworker, plumber, tiler, or electrician, there is no point in you buying the most expensive tools. You probably won’t ever get the use out of them to justify the initial outlay.
A perfectly usable sander can cost 1/10 of the price of some of the professional variable speed models. If you’re just using it to sand down a couple of wooden floors, or smooth out some lumpy paint on a window frame before you repaint, it will do the job perfectly,
Garage sales, second-hand stores and reclamation yards are amazing places to find things to transform your home without spending a fortune. “Upcycling” old furniture to create your perfect home office chair or desk is catching on, and so much more fun than putting a flat pack together.
There are a wide variety of chalk paints and decorative effects, like glitter and foil strips to enhance the finish and appearance of your project and some people have enjoyed the process so much they’ve set up their own little businesses restoring discarded furniture and home accessories.
This doesn’t just apply to furniture though. There are now products on the market which allow you to re-enamel old baths and sinks to give them a new lease of life. Combined with a little creativity and imagination, an old cast iron bath or sink can transform a bathroom at a fraction of the cost of a new fibreglass bath. Remember, though, you might need four people to lift an old cast iron bath into place – and you’ll need a strong floor!
Kitchens are another area of the house where you can make great savings.
If you’re happy with the layout of your existing kitchen and are just looking at a facelift to bring those shabby cupboards to life, and those scratched and worn work surfaces up to date, you can just buy new doors and work surfaces – without having to replace your entire kitchen.
Luxury home builders Melbourne way might sniff at this but it’s a very effective way to uplift the look and usability of your kitchen without the premium prices charged in the showrooms and by professional kitchen tradies.
Bedrooms too, can benefit from replacing tired decor, fittings and accessories. It’s always surprising how much difference just a coat of paint or some fresh, tasteful wallpaper can make in turning around a horror of a room.
Just changing from a dark colour to nice bright white or pastel can knock a room’s ambiance out of the park – making it instantly bigger and more open.
Putting in mirrors, especially on wardrobe doors and cupboards, can also help to make a small space seem much larger and redistribute the light in a gloomy room that has little natural lighting.
Another trick to accessorising, is to use plants and flowers to add splashes of colour and vary the textures and tones of your rooms. The plant pots are another source of colour which can add to the visual aura of space – especially places like hallways, which are often neglected and unappealing without a bit of “bling” and thought.
Lastly, the outside space in your home is easy to transform with gravel, paving, grass and borders. You can make a pond cheaply with an old bath or sink, and by digging up some stones and rocks you could add a rockery or terraced surround to the pond to support a wide variety of insects and amphibians like frogs and newts.
After a while, finding bargains and making the best of your home on a budget can be very rewarding. Combining great taste with some frugality can work wonders for your confidence, your ideas – as well as your budding DIY and artistic skills.