Not-to-be-missed ideas for renovation 


THE Cambridge English Dictionary defines the word ‘penchant’ as: “A liking for, an enjoyment of, or a habit of doing something, especially something that other people might not like.” 

So many of the renovations I’ve seen are to properties where the previous owner clearly had a penchant for home renovations…. especially renovations that other people might not like! 

It appears that many renovations conducted in the past could have been more successfully accomplished by three solitary Koalas equipped with little more than a sledge-hammer, roll of gaffer tape and a Bunnings card! 

This may appear harsh, but in terms of seeing the result of someone’s actual time and money – in theory expended at will with the end goal of improving what was previously there – then I’ve seen some shockers! 

As with most projects, the space and budget have limitations. 

I have seen many renovations which fail to capitalise well on the space provided, often perpetrated by Pinterest, which ‘sells’ the glamour we all want throughout our dream home, but doesn’t always work so well in our ‘non-dream’ home. 

One step in the opposite direction and you’re competing with the fashion magazines and Instagram, trying to recreate a lifestyle that, seriously, only suits a few. 

It’s all too easy to get lost in the images and try to apply them ‘verbatim’ (usually many of them!). 

The secret is to stick with a key design idea and execute it simply. 

Here are three items I find add more than their cost to almost any project… 


No, not an outburst of Tourette’s but something I love. And love how they can transform a room not only from an ‘inside-outside’ perspective but also from a shabby to chic perspective. 

Stackers and let’s be fair, bi-folds, have such a dramatic effect on a space that the placement of the kitchen, dining area and overall use of a room can often evolve from, and be designed around, the decision to put doors in. For me, where possible, a non-negotiable cost in the budget. 


On a parallel and nothing short of indulgent use of fiscal resources, a skylight strategically placed, with the ceiling lining framed up to and into the glass, can be breathtaking. It’s rare to have too much natural light in a kitchen / dining area and the use of a framework can create a vaulted ceiling opening greater than the skylight itself; for a little extra money it transforms the space. 

I’d forego some expense elsewhere; maybe a more economical cornice or skirting option, to off-set the skylight cost. 

It’s like flying in business class and still having money at the end for a comfortable hotel rather than first class and a back-packers. I don’t see the added value for what it cost for first class – but that’s just me! 

Window Seat 

It’s lovely to see how far a budget can be stretched (in the right direction) with a bit of creative thinking, choice of materials, realistic expectations and numerous cups of coffee! 

A well-positioned window seat can not only provide a great use of space and some extra storage, but it can become the feature of a room. It commands a unique use of space and provides a wonderful hang-out to have a coffee or glass of Pinot, while reading some Jane Austin, Chaucer or…let’s face it, flicking through Tik Tok! 

These are just a few examples of focusing on key areas within the design and looking at ways to maximise the budget, not to stretch it beyond recognition. 

If you want to build stronger arms, you don’t go for a run – do a couple of barbell curls! 

I’d like to think that many less-than-good decisions can be avoided through the use of time and a little creative budgeting at the planning stage. 

They (whoever they are) say that the ‘Devil’s in the detail’. 

In this instance, the detail is in the budget at the outset rather than often over-priced architectural detail that can render a budget as useless as trying to straighten deckchairs 

The Barefoot Renovator

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