How to Transform a House on a Budget

How to Transform A House on a Budget

This is one post I thought I’d never publish.

If you follow me socially (on Facebook or Instagram) you may have seen a sneak peek of this makeover and read about my reservations in sharing it here.

Basically, this is my gran’s house which we suddenly needed to sell after she was moved into an aged care facility a few months back. Having been on the market for several years prior with absolutely no interest, we (being mainly my parents, my aunt and myself) knew it needed to be somewhat over-hauled for sale. Though not only did we need to sell it, we needed to sell it relatively quickly, and at a certain price point (in order to avoid interest fees and cover all costs associated with the aged care facility).

The problem? Well, make that problems. We had a large and incredibly dated house, a super limited budget and my gran lives an eight hour round trip away!

I knew from the start that the budget limitations, logistical challenges and time constraints would result in a rather “make do” renovation. Hence, it was never my intention to share it here due to some reservations about how well it would reflect my expected style and standards (blogland can be a scarily lofty and judgmental place nowadays!).

Still, although it took a bit of courage, I posed the question on some of my social channels and was completely overwhelmed by the response…you wanted to see and learn more about this “real life” flip. How could I argue?

Granted, I did show the absolute best room in my social posts, and am still kinda nervous about sharing the entire ‘warts-n-all’ house, though I was incredibly stirred by all of the comments and have even reassessed the direction this blog should be heading in :)

Although we have specifically flipped this property for sale, many of these tactics can be used if you’re simply wanting to improve the look and feel of your current home, or may help shine light on the potential in a seemingly awful house if you’re looking to buy.

Anyhoo, here was our glorious starting point…

Sorry about the quality of the photos and the watermarks. Because I never intended to blog about this refresh, I didn’t take proper before pics. These are some images I managed to find online from when the property was originally listed a couple of years back. Nothing much had changed.

This is a two story house comprising of a three bedroom, one bathroom main residence on the first floor, and a fully self-contained one bedroom, one bathroom unit on the ground floor.

Our initial plan was simple; de-clutter, replace the floor coverings in the main living space and make the most of the existing furnishings. As things progressed the improvement was clear, though it just didn’t feel as good as it could. Any new positive changes we made only seemed to highlight all of the old negatives! I knew that with just a tad more effort, and the addition of some thrifty staging pieces, we could give it some real zing – and, in turn, better capitalise on all of the work we were investing.

As we were on a tight budget and timeline, it was important to pick our battles. A full renovation was just plain unrealistic. And rather than task ourselves with cosmetically over-hauling the entire house, we decided to make the living space our main focus. I figured if we could somewhat wow people with a nice first impression, then make the remainder of the house pleasant enough through ‘dressing’, it would create a good overall vibe and demonstrate the potential.

The main problem with the living space (aside from everything) was the wood burning fire.

Living Beofre

It was smack bang in the middle of the room and virtually impossible to configure furniture around – I can’t count the number of times I’ve said “why the feck did they put it there?” Removing it seemed daunting, though after some inspection we deduced it was merely sitting on a floating brick hearth. As we were replacing the flooring anyway, all we needed to do was remove the fire and hearth, trim the flue off below the roofline then patch a basic hole in the ceiling – easy! We even managed to re-purpose the fire as an outdoor heater in one of the alfresco seating areas.

After a fresh coat of paint (Dulux “Natural White” on the walls and ceiling | Dulux “Grey Pail” quarter on the panelled wall) it felt so much crisper.

DIY Budget House Flip

We also sprayed the existing ceiling fans and track lights white to freshen them up. New carpet was a must. We went with the most affordable option we could find, though I actually really like it! In fact, it reminds me of sisal. It has a neat loop, natural tone and nice sandy fleck which seems fitting given this is a coastal property (plus it’s apparently super durable too).

One other change which made a surprisingly big difference was removing the security screen from the sliding door. This was actually a happy accident. We took it off to repair it and noticed how much more open and modern the space suddenly felt. Not to mention the way the ocean views were instantly emphasised! We went on to remove all of the security screens (and some of the old fly screens) from the entire house. A free and simple change which made a big aesthetic difference.

Before and After with Security Screen

Note: I know what some of you are probably thinking: “But now people can break in more easily” or “That will effect the home insurance”. Maybe so, maybe not. The fact is, security screens certainly aren’t a must and many homes don’t have them. It’s something for the new owners to assess.

The only other thing we did in the room was dress it with some contemporary furnishings. I had my doubts about the feasibility of this. To keep costs down, I normally source second-hand furniture, though this can be a lengthy process: you need to find the right piece at the right price in the right location, then you possibly need to refurbish it – and in this case we’re talking about staging an entire house! We just didn’t have the time for that.

Budget Friendly Home Refresh

Thank god for Kmart! Accent chairs, side table, TV unit, console table and two of the dining chairs all came from Kmart. We also have three bar stools and four cube shelves in the kitchen area from Kmart. All up everything cost under $370.

Note: For my international readers, here in Australia Kmart is the current go-to store for accessible, inexpensive and on-trend furniture and home decor.

The remainder of the furniture was found on eBay. Dining table and sofa were $200 each. The set of four dining chairs was $80 and the large coffee table, which we painted blue-grey to match the panelled wall, was $30.

Budget House Refresh

One of the trickiest things to source was an affordable large rug (I needed something at least 2×3 meters/7×10 feet). After looking in vain for something second-hand, I eventually stumbled across a rug warehouse being advertised through Marketplace on Facebook. They only had a few options in my size and price-range, and this one wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, though for just $150 it would do. My other option was the LOHALS from IKEA, which I do like and have used before, though I opted for some pattern this time around.

DIY Budget House Flip

So, for just a smidge over $1,000 we had managed to furnish the entire open-plan living, dining, kitchen space. Not bad.

Most of the decor is pretty incidental. Some of it we already owned, some of it we salvaged from op shops and some of it we bought from inexpensive homeware stores. I’ll spare you all the specifics given this is a looooong post, though feel free to ask about anything in particular.

House Flip Before and After

Although it would have been amazing to renovate the kitchen, as already mentioned, due to time and budget restraints we had to pick our battles. Given the kitchen was in good condition and relatively neutral we opted to simply freshen it up with a few basic changes.

Kitchen Before

We replaced the carpet with plank sheet vinyl, painted the backsplash tiles white, added handles to the cabinet doors, changed the taps, painted the pantry door, painted the rear of the peninsula, and added a floating shelf to give purpose to the rear wall.

Kitchen Refresh

Kitchen Refresh After

The large fridge nook was tricky. I thought it would have been cool to take up the space with side-by-side fridges – though where was I going to get matching ones from? Then I had the idea of centering the fridge and flanking it with little shelves ($15 each from Kmart). This was an easy fix which works well to make the unorthodox cavity seem intentional.

Fridge Nook Before and After

I wanted to add little feet to the cabinets to bring them up to fridge height, then maybe a shelf along the top, though we ran out of time. It’s hard to see in the pic, though I’ve placed some simple white ceramicware in the little cubbies.

Of course, it would have been great if we’d had the opportunity to paint the cabinet doors and maybe add some moulding to them, change the countertops and install some hanging pendants over the peninsula. I even wanted to paint the fridge pastel blue and install a faux rangehood! If the house was closer all these extra jobs would have been more achievable in little bursts here and there. As things stood, we accomplished as much as possible in the limited weekends we could afford. Trust me, they were very BUSY weekends!

Kitchen Before and After

Although the bathroom, like the kitchen, could have benefited from a full renovation that was beyond our scope of works, and, like the kitchen, it was in good condition.

Bathroom Before

So, to neaten things up we painted the walls and ceiling (unlike the remainder of the first floor it did need a fresh coat of paint), changed the taps, framed the wall mirror with some trim, added moulding to and painted the vanity doors, changed the vanity door handles, installed a new toilet roll holder and some towel hooks, then dressed the space minimally.

Bathroom

Bathroom

I realise these ‘afters’ are essentially akin to ‘befores’ though please be kind :)

The faux roman blind my mum made, complete with leather loops (which are actually re-purposed handbag straps!) is my favourite.

Time and budget permitting I probably would have also painted the wall tiles, clad the floor with something (maybe peel-and-stick planks), replaced the shower screen (or painted the existing frame black) and painted or replaced the basin. Nothing too extravagant, just a few simple additional updates to modernise things.

Bathroom Before and After

Thankfully the paint and floor coverings throughout the remainder of the first floor were relatively neutral and in good condition so we could simply concentrated on dressing things up as best we could.

The three bedrooms are nothing special. We used what we had, adding in a few new inexpensive items here and there, to make them more appealing.

Bedroom Refresh

The master bedroom got a statement light fitting ($40 from eBay), sheer curtains ($30 from IKEA), new side tables and lamps ($15 each from Kmart), two end of bed ottomans ($15 each from Kmart) and an accent rug ($28 on sale from Target). The artwork and most of the bedding we already had and the bedhead was a super easy DIY.

Bedroom Before and After

We decided to turn the smallest bedroom (which was previously gran’s home office/weird guest bedroom) into a sweet little girl’s room. We installed a canopy ($12 from eBay), painted a side table we already owned, created a light fixture from a mesh bowl ($8 from Kmart), made a simple bamboo ladder to hold books and printed some downloadable art to fill a few thrifted frames. The rug, stool and decor was found when we shopped the house and most of the bedding we already had.

Bedroom Before and After

The third upstairs bedroom is quite basic. We re-orientated it to make it appear more spacious, re-purposed another bowl to form the light fixture ($6 from Kmart), hung some new simple curtains ($20 on sale from Spotlight) and added a side table ($25 from Kmart). The large wall chart and bedding we already owned (the beds themselves are the same too – you just can’t see the frames in the before pic). There is also a cane chair (just in shot) and small desk on one wall which gran already had.

Note: Little details can make a difference. Use attractive light bulbs if they are visible in your fixtures. We replaced all of gran’s ugly curly bulbs with pretty round edison ones.

The ground floor is actually fully self-contained. It includes an open-plan living/dining/kitchen, a bathroom/laundry and a bedroom. So, although it’s attached to the main house and can be used in conjunction with it, it could also be reserved for guests, or used as an income suite or holiday rental (which is pretty cool).

Here are some of the before pics again…

Before

Um, yeah.

By the time we got to this area, we were pretty much out of time, energy and decor.

It would have been great to change the fluro light fittings and paint the peach walls though that wasn’t going to happen – remember, our battles needed to be thoughtfully picked. One major thing we did decide to do was replace the flooring. You can’t see it in the before photos, though the original carpet didn’t actually extend to the walls! There was a two inch gap around the entire perimeter where you could see the concrete sub-floor (thanks to some dodgy DIY). We sourced some inexpensive second-hand floor tiles ($330 total) to re-cover the living space and bedroom. Laying these was somewhat fiddly though easy enough. For the dining and kitchen area, we installed new vinyl planks ($500).

Living Space After

To create a focal point my aunt donated her old free-standing fuel burning fireplace for which mum and I built a simple surround using scrap timber – we were super proud of ourselves (if you want to create a similar focal point, you don’t need a working fireplace, a salvaged mantel filled with candles or branches or a large plant works a treat too). The bulky old couch and armchairs were donated and replaced with a cane setting I found on the side of the road (I couldn’t believe my luck – took a different route home from school one day and there they were with a ‘FREE’ sign on them!). The coffee table is actually the original dining table (as can be seen in the before pics) which I trimmed down.

Living Space After

We kept the existing dining chairs and added a new rectangular table which suits the space better. The plastic kitchen pulls were replaced with new black metal ones and some simple sea fan prints give the broken wall a sense of continuity. The fridge was moved to beside the pantry and the lower portion of gran’s buffet (which was originally upstairs) now acts as a dining room sideboard.

Before and After Living Zone

As mentioned above, we were running low on decor at this point so did the best with what we had. It’s not perfect, and far from how I would ordinarily style a space, though it’s fine.

Before and After Donwstairs

The downstairs bedroom was very last minute however I’m really happy with how it came together.

Bedroom Before and After

A sheer curtain (left-over from the master bedroom upstairs) adds a touch of softness and I just love the bedside lights. I wanted to do something interesting in this room to create a point of difference. Of course, installing hanging pendants was out of the question so instead I found these candle holders ($10 each on clearance from Bunnings) then attached them to the ceiling with some hooks and cord. Although they aren’t wired they hold remote operated battery candles so they do actually work as a light source! The bedside tables are from Kmart ($29 each) and the artwork was a free download I printed and framed. Most of the bedding and decor we already had.

The final room is the unusual ‘wet room’, as we call it. It encompasses a little vanity, a laundry area, and a toilet and shower concealed behind sliding doors.

Like I said, it’s unusual.

Bathroom Before and After

This room did get a fresh coat of paint (“Natural White” as per the upstairs living space). We also needed to replace the original sliding doors and tracks which were falling apart. I wanted to DIY this though at gran’s house we just didn’t have the right tools (or enough time) so we had them professionally installed ($600 – could easily have done it for half the price ourselves). I added some strap hinges to dress them up a bit.

Bathroom After

We painted the vanity, replaced the knobs and taps, hung a salvaged mirror (this is nice and long to extend down over the backsplash and cover the one dated patterned tile in the room!), installed a new shower curtain, added a basket shade to the ceiling light and framed an old pillowcase to act as wall art. An IKEA runner rug, some modern towels and a few decor accents help detract from the negatives and create a sense of comfort.

And so concludes the longest blog post in the history of blog posts! Phew!

Whether you’re selling a house, buying a house, or looking to improve your existing house, there are lots of easy and effective improvements you can make on a budget.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the main reason I was hesitant to share this refresh is because it doesn’t necessarily reflect my personal style or standards. Although it was fun to go for a different look, and liberating not to feel confined by having everything ‘just so’, I do wish I’d had a bit more time to finesse things. Oh well.

Also, the photos I took were all shot for real estate purposes so they’re not composed or staged anywhere nearly as prettily (or magazine-y) as usual. Again, oh well.

On the interior we spent $7,000 total – for EVERYTHING. There was an additional $13,000 spent on the exterior which can be mainly attributed to replacing a large deck (the existing one was dangerously weathered). So, all up we spent $20,000.

Four months ago, prior to the revamp, we had the property valued by two agents. One quoted $260,000, the other $280,000. Two weeks ago, with the refresh complete, we were quoted $359,000! I honestly thought the agent had got his numbers mixed up! That’s a profit of around $70,000. Not bad, huh?

It was never our intention to greatly improve the value of the house. Our prerogative was simply to make it appealing for a quick sale, so the jump in price has been a major bonus!

Of course, the best thing is that gran is just thrilled.

Here are some of my tips at a glance…

DE-CLUTTER

I can’t stress enough how vital this step is. And how transformative and inspiring it can be! For me, de-cluttering involves taking a room back to its bare bones, creating a blank canvas to freshly build upon. This means removing all free-standing items along with any fixtures (of course, for practicality purposes any pieces which you intend to keep can stay though I like to clear as much as possible). Light fixtures, window dressings, furniture, decor, hardware, even floor coverings or built-in cabinetry if you intend to replace them, should be removed. Up-cycle, re-purpose, sell or donate whatever you can. Sometimes it’s difficult to imagine what a room can be. De-cluttering helps provide the mental and visual clarity to capitalise on its potential.

PICK YOUR BATTLES

It’s not always viable to undertake a complete renovation which is when tackling the right projects becomes super important. Whether you’re preparing a house for sale or refreshing your own home, creating a neat and clean environment should be priority one. Repair, replace or remove anything which is broken, damaged, or just looks plain untidy, then concentrate on renewing the most dated (or hideous!) features. If your budget won’t stretch to refurbishing the entire house, choose a focus area to completely transform. This will provide impact, leave a strong impression and hint at the home’s on-going potential. Sometimes, when you scatter little projects about here and there, the effect can be lost.

PRETTY OVER PRACTICAL

I know this is a big no-no ordinarily, though if you’re selling there is a place for it. You may well use them everyday, though removing, hiding or reconfiguring items like bulky or excess furniture, ugly security screens, IT/AV equipment (and their visible cords), small appliances and window dressings can make your home feel bigger, cleaner and more spacious. In short, it can look much more appealing.

LEAVE SOMETHING

If you don’t have the ability to undertake a full renovation, leaving some areas untouched isn’t always a bad thing. Many buyers like having an excuse to add their own touch. Of course, always ensure each space is neat, clean and liveable though.

DRESS IT UP

Although it might be tempting to clear your house for sale, thoughtfully dressed homes always present better. It may seem like an empty house will feel more spacious and move-in-ready, however furniture actually helps provide scale, making rooms (especially small ones) appear larger. It also gives purpose to spaces which people may otherwise not have been able to envision. Done well, dressing will make a house sing, working to highlight all the good features whilst diminishing the bad! But where do all of these ‘dressing’ items come from? Of course, you don’t want to spend a small fortune on furniture and decor you technically don’t need, and hire companies can be incredibly expensive. Use as much of what you already have as possible, up-cycling or re-purposing as needed. Shop second-hand, keep an eye on the curb or buy from discount stores. Focus on scale, lay-out and colour to ensure rooms feel spacious, fresh and unified. If you’re unsure what to do with the pieces you’ve acquired, considering selling furnished (that’s what we’ve decided to do). This is especially attractive to buyers looking for income properties or holiday homes.

DON’T MAKE IT ‘YOURS’

You want any prospective buyers to be able to envisage a home as ‘theirs’. So, whilst it can be tempting to appease your own design sensibilities, try to keep things relatively neutral and on-trend to appeal to a wide audience. This may mean putting your personal taste aside. That said, it is still important to create a sense of homeyness, so try doing this by using different textures, inviting colours, earthy elements, interesting wall art, books and generic personal items.

AVOID TRADES

Of course, certain jobs require a professional, though tradespeople can swallow up huge chunks of your budget. Wherever possible, DIY and avoid engaging trades. When you absolutely need to use a tradesperson, keep things as quick, concise and minimal as possible. Of course, I realise this sadly isn’t always in your control.

So, what are your thoughts? Is this the type of ‘real life’ revamp you’d like to see more of? Or were you completely underwhelmed? Feel free to leave your honest feedback – I can totally take it and will completely understand.

If anything, I hope it has given some of you inspiration :)

Given there are sooooo many different little projects, I haven’t provided in-depth details for everything. Please ask if you’d like more info about anything in particular.

Signature

So, this is what I’ve been up to for the past several weeks. Sorry I’ve been absent. Hopefully I’ll be able to get back into the regular swing of things now.

The house has been on the market for just over two weeks now and I’m happy to report we’ve already had lots of interest! If you’re looking for a lovely move-in ready property on Australia’s sought-after south-eastern coast, you can find the real estate listing here for further information – and to contact the agent to submit your offer ;)

 

UPDATE

The house is now sold! Learn more HERE.

 


194 Comments
  1. Nikki Stretch says:

    Hi Kristine,
    I don’t think that I can impress upon you enough how simply fantastic it is to see REAL transformations! It is far more inspiring to see a real home that is given a genuine lift, highlighting good bones and positive elements.
    Please don’t ever think that polished ‘blogland’ is more inspiring… it looks wonderful but it always feels out of reach!
    You have shown, once again, your instinctive talents for pulling disparate elements together and linking casually but elegantly into inviting living spaces.
    Let’s see more!,
    Nikki

  2. Renee says:

    Awesome job
    Loved your entire post.

  3. Mary says:

    That was indeed an eyeful Kristine. And it turned out fantastic. You cleaned it up enough and revamped it so as to allow the potential buyers to be able to envision themselves living in it. No need to apologize for anything you did an incredible job and there is no reason why it should reflect your taste after all it is not your home. Just like a designer has to design for the client, that is what you did. There is so much we can all learn from this transformation. I’m so thankful you posted this. I’m sure you will have no trouble selling it, if you haven’t already.

  4. Julie says:

    What is the brand and colour of the carpet that you used in the lounge area?
    I love what you have been able to achieve in such a large area on a limited budget.

    • Thanks Julie. It was called Tech Base in the colour Sandbar.

      • Julie says:

        Thank you!

  5. Sally says:

    You and your family did a great job! I think it is an encouraging post. There are lots of people who can’t spend big bucks to perk up their home. It can be overwhelming and seem impossible. You e shown that improvements CAN be made on a tight budget and look wonderful. Congratulations on a job well done.

  6. ML says:

    I did a very similar revamp to our old house. I fought tooth and nail to do it but it was so worth it! My real estate agent came back to take pics and she raised the price $20 grand. Your suggestions are right!! De clutter pick your battles de personalize the space and also shop your house. People commented they wondered if people lived in the house. 😊 My family thought I was crazy but I had the last laugh!!!😉

  7. Keely says:

    Love, love, love, love LOVE! So much creativity and it turned out amazing! You inspired me to keep working on my camper renovation and to really be creative! I would love to see more posts like this!

  8. Mckenzie says:

    I’m so glad you shared this!! You have a wonderful talent and you certainly brought out so much potential in this house. I enjoy everything you post you seem to have the golden touch. Please keep sharing!!!

  9. Veronica Moran says:

    That was a fantastic read. Inspiring, very creative and real. Loved it!

  10. Karen says:

    Thanks for sharing, this is a great post, I really enjoyed it.

  11. Maria Costa says:

    You did a phenomenal job! I love all of the decor. Please let us know how the sale is going. BTW, I love long posts :)

  12. Arkie Kim says:

    A friend shared this with me and I really appreciated this … You and your family are amazing… We’re downsizing to a smaller home and we too, have an older home we will not have the funds or time to properly update. You gave some great tips on the NEXT best ideas to make a home appealing to the next home owners… thank you..

    • So glad you’ve found it helpful. Yes, you’re right, these are the ‘next’ best ideas though they certainly have their place. Good luck Arkie :)

  13. KBG says:

    This is amazing and so inspiring!!! I love the before and after pictures. It speaks to your amazing talent that you could envision all these changes and make the beautiful updates. I looked at the before pictures and was blown away by how the changes improved the space. And all done on a both a money and time budget! So well done. Thank you for sharing this!

  14. Jill says:

    Wow, you did a great job! So amazing what paint can do to refresh a space. My husband and I are house hunting right now, I love older homes that need transformation but my husband cannot see the potential! We’ probably end up with new construction but your post has given me some good ideas; I love the jute rug from ikea!

  15. Judy says:

    Love this post! Bring on more!

  16. Kristine this makes me soooo happy! This is such an important post – we live in an aging society and people are experiencing the same circumstances (often a few times in their life considering how many older relatives we have). The overwhelming majority of Australians don’t have the money to pump $100K into a house flip. I know you kept saying that the result wasn’t your ideal, but I think the result you got was really stylish and impactful (especially considering the time and money constraints). Thankyou for sharing with us. I enjoyed it so much I wish there were way more pictures (especially “during” pics). This may sound stupid, but what was your process for styling? Did you have a picture of each finished space in your mind? Or did you just keep adding things till it seemed full enough? xx

    • Good question Kate. Hmmm, I certainly didn’t have CLEAR end pictures in mind because I was still configuring furniture, styling beds and arranging decor the day the real estate agent was due to re-visit (and hammering artwork into the wall as he arrived!). This house was certainly an evolution. We did plan to an extent though also adapted as needed, making some decisions as the pieces fell.
      Sometimes this can be a stressful way to decorate, though it’s also really easy to get things wrong if you plan too far ahead. I guess we tried to find a balance, choosing the main pieces early on then making them all work together with decor. That said, there are always regrets, doubts and last minute changes!
      Kristine
      xoxo

  17. Jeanna says:

    I can’t believe the transformation! Simply wonderful :) These tips are valuable for me……sometimes I have a hard time getting past the “ugly” and seeing a rooms potential, and you are blessed with such a good eye for all the possibilities!

  18. Jolene says:

    Wow! What a transformation and so inspiring given your budget and time constraints. I love using and reusing what I already have in my home decor. Spray paint has become my new best friend. It’s amazing what a can of spray paint can do for an old lamp, table, wastebasket, or even a plastic bucket! Thanks for sharing.

  19. Pat says:

    I’m so glad you posted this makeover. What an amazing transformation. I had to check out the photo’s on the realtors site and your grandma’s house looks incredible. I almost hit the floor when you said the cane setting was found on the side of the road for FREE. I was thinking “YEA BABY!”.

    In one pic (I’m guessing it’s the downs foyer) there is a beautiful console/dresser with a round mirror over it. Any chance of telling the back story on this piece?

    Congratulation! Pat from New Jersey U.S.A.

    • Hi Pat. Thanks so much. Yes, that is the entry foyer. I didn’t share it in this post because I don’t have a before photo. That sideboard was already in the space. My understanding is that it was gifted to my grandparents a few years ago. Aside from the fact I believe it’s made from Huon Pine I don’t know much else about it :)

  20. Liz says:

    OH how I wish you would come visit me and help me with my house! Your eye is so spot on. I am always so impressed with everything you do! Keep sharing, you can see we love it.

  21. ROfromNY says:

    This is fantastic, thank you so much for sharing it. I am amazed with the transformation, in every single room. Wow.

  22. ROfromNY says:

    I just have to comment one more time, I love seeing what creativity can do when one is forced to make-do, or chooses to make-do because of a particular world view that emphasizes resourcefulness, etc. I can’t stand seeing ‘what money can buy’. This really is wonderful…creative, accessible, and not ostentatious. Thanks again. I hope to hear it sells soon.

  23. Susie says:

    Brilliant! I love seeing this, as I may be doing something similar with my moms place in the not-to-distant future.

  24. Eleanor says:

    Thanks so much for sharing! You’ve done an incredible job on a tight time schedule and budget. Wouldn’t mind owning a holiday house exactly like that! Clutter free and perfect for relaxing.

  25. Angela Samuel says:

    Amazing job! So interesting and inspirational to read. I’m English and awaiting my partner visa to move to Melbourne. I have a small curtain/blind making/furniture upcycling business here in the UK and am looking for new creative work ideas for myself in Australia. Love the way you’ve re-purposed existing bits and pieces and staged the house.

    • Thanks Angela. Good luck with your move and your business going forward :)

  26. 'col says:

    I loved seeing this. I get what you’re saying about how the end result doesn’t necessarily reflect your style, but it’s incredible to see the difference between the before and after. An astonishingly beautiful end result is not the only valuable outcome–I think you did a wonderful job getting the house to a point where buyers will be able to imagine their own decor in the space.

  27. Holly M says:

    Love the re-do! So glad you decided to share it – thanks! It’s so neat to see what can be done with a little creativity and hard work!!! Awesome!

  28. Bonnie says:

    That’s amazing. So glad you shared this. Decliuttering is such a big start. You all did a marvellous job and I’m sure needed a break afterwards. Congratulations. Hope it sells quickly.

  29. Kelly says:

    This is literally AMAZING. I loved reading through your post and couldn’t wait to see your “after” pictures. I kept going back and forth between the before and afters and my jaw was dropped. You are sooo talented. You have such an incredible vision. I’m so glad you decided to share this!

  30. Isabella says:

    This is a stunning makeover. I love, love blog posts like this! Real transformations for real people on a budget. You really refreshed your gran’s home beautifully for sale. Would love to see more posts like this. Seriously, this could be a business for you.

  31. Kahlie says:

    This is the best! It’s so encouraging to see what you did with normal life limitations. It’s all well and good to do the glossy unrealistic makeovers with no limitations, but to achieve this on a realistic and affordable budget and time restrictions without ripping EVERYTHING out and starting again is just magic. I’m so inspired by you and have been for years!!!! Thanks for showing this even though I read between the lines and your perfectionist self was reluctant. I’m looking at buying an older house and wish I could have you redecorate it for me! The sale price increases is amazing but doesn’t surprise me. Ppl will pay for a place that feels inspiring- and this sure does. Well done!

    • Thanks so much Kahlie. I’ve been incredibly overwhelmed by the response to this post. Can’t wait to have the opportunity to get stuck into another budget reno!

  32. Cherie says:

    Thanks SO much for sharing this. Super thoughtful and practical – I enjoyed reading it all and seeing how you approached it. A real life example that many of us can relate to. Fantastic work – best of luck selling it and best wishes to your gran.

  33. yvonne says:

    Yes, a transformation indeed!
    I get a Scandinavian vibe here.

  34. Judy Brew says:

    Holy moly what a makeover! Well done on your hard work and thanks for all the info. I love how you reuse, recycle, shop from home and use budget resources – all the info is very helpful. Judy

  35. Lisa says:

    Absolutely amazing! I am a stager and love all the before and after photos and the details you provided about each makeover step. You did a fabulous job and thank you so much for sharing! Kudos to you for adding so much value to the home and to the staging community.

  36. Nancy says:

    This is perhaps one of the best realistic “flips” (as we call them in the States) that I have seen lately. Your honest evaluation of your Gran’s house and your ability, time and money to produce such a nice home is amazing. $20,000 is almost nothing in the States when trying to renovate a home. You certainly have great style and skills. You should be very proud of yourself. Too bad Gran isn’t able to enjoy it but I am sure that the profits from the sale will enable her to have a nice life in her her new home.

    • Yes, we call them ‘flips’ too (I almost titled the post ‘How to Flip a House on a Budget’) though wanted to appeal to people who simply wanted to refresh their own home too. Thanks so much for your lovely words :)

  37. Jane says:

    Are you kidding me !? This is amazing. Don’t sell yourselves short. What you’ve done is (I think) so much more real than Pinterest. Clean, functional and beautiful. This is how most people actually live – with something new, something secondhand and the odd roadside find. Not to mention budget friendly. Just great. And realistic – not everyone wants to (or has) a heap of money to decorate their homes. This is inspiring.

  38. Carol says:

    Christine, you are amazing. As always love what you do. To get all that done with the distance to travel. Truely that would have caused sweat on top of your sweating. You always make me walk around my house thinking how could I “Christine it”.

  39. Sonja says:

    Wow, you and your family are amazing, well done! This was a truly exceptional post and you do not need to preface any of the above with regards to your budget, you excelled whatever the limitations. Consider more of this in the future, you are supremely talented and you guys are a fantastic team. I hope your Gran settles peacefully into her new home and she is certainly well loved by you all. P.S. This is my favorite of your many superb posts.

    • Aw, thanks Sonja. I’ve been so surprised by the response to this post. Can’t wait to have more like this to share :)

  40. Ruth says:

    I loved reading this. I am slowly taking out bad DIY from the previous owner of our funny little house and replacing it. Sometimes by myself and sometimes with a little help from a great handyman if I get stuck. I have painted, built, tiled and styled and it is often tiring and dirty and a little bit lonely (my partner isn’t the handy type). Things never quite end up as perfect as you imagine but they are ALWAYS better than the starting point and you did it yourself and you saved enough to tackle something else. And then bit by bit you start to see your home become something unique and beautiful.
    I think the greatest message from this post is not to focus too much on the things that maybe make YOUR eye twitch. All we see are clean, light and well styled spaces a world away from your gran’s home with its comfortable clutter. It’s a good reminder for me to look at what i have achieved rather than what has still to be done; a horrifyingly long list of things I have never tackled. I love your blog. If you ever want a business sidekick who lives locally, pick me ;

    • LOL! Where are you based Ruth? I get the ‘lonely’ feeling. My husband doesn’t really share my renovation passion, and neither do any of my close friends. My poor mum is the one to get her ear chewed off about houses and decorating!
      So glad the post resonated with you :)

      • Ruth says:

        Collingwood in Melbourne. We moved back into our newly re-plasterboarded and painted bedroom last night after weeks sleeping on the floor in our tiny spare room. There’s still the final 10% to finish in there…its almost the hardest! Still…we lay in bed last night marveling at the new smooth walls (the previous incarnation had three different sized cornices which had big chunky blobs of cornice cement in the corners and a crooked, HIDEOUS glass flush mount) and it felt pretty good.

  41. Ruth L says:

    Thank you for this timely post! I am in the middle of renovating a formal rental property that belongs to my Mom. She is very ill and so this task has fallen to me. There is much I’d like to do to it, but have a limited budget and need to pick and choose what absolutely must be done. You’ve given me a fresh perspective on making those choices. Thanks!

  42. Carolyn Wray says:

    I’ve been reading your blog for years but have never commented before. I love this post! Real, practical and you shared your thinking which is always so clear. Thanks for sharing and more please!

    • Thanks so much Carolyn. Glad my thinking came across clearly in the post. It’s usually scrambled in real life – LOL!

  43. Paris says:

    Wow! I think this turned out super well and I’m so inspired! It’s also amazing to see what easy updates one could do if we all bought the house in it’s original condition, eh? I have a good feeling it will sell soon. Good luck :-)

  44. I really like the room makeover you shared in article and it inspire me to have my own makeover to my home. Thank you for the great ideas you shared and I really hope to read more makeover in your other blog.

  45. Michelle says:

    Wonderful job when you have such a limited budget! You apologised so much but its really amazing!! Whilst it’s nice to dream about the interiors we see on Instagram, most of us don’t have any hope of our homes looking so perfect so it’s lovely to see something ‘real’ once in a while!

    I absolutely love the colour you chose for the feature wall behind the TV. Icy blue without a trace of Frozen!

  46. Penny says:

    This is fantastic. You did such a great job with very little. The detailed breakdown makes it all seem very achievable, although I’m sure it was a lot of work.

    • Thanks Penny. Yes, a lot of work (more time than difficulty) though so worth it!

  47. As a real estate agent I am extremely impressed with what you have done. We try to explain to clients how putting in some sweat equity and a bit of money can make a huge difference, but they don’t believe it. Today we are used to seeing such grand renovations, but small differences can go a long way. I will be showing this to many clients, thanks for such a perfect example! I hope you will update your post when it sells to show that your first goal of getting it sold was accomplished. Best of luck!

    • Thanks Julie. I will be sure to post an update. We’ve already had several offers and are hoping to close on one soon :)

  48. Whitney says:

    That was a wonderful post. I’m kind of tired of “perfect” blog posts. honestly… like really tired of same ‘ol, same ‘ol . Things are starting to look the same and generic in blogs these days. This is real time real life. No apologies necessary.

  49. Deeda says:

    I love these before and after posts. You couldn’t have asked for more startling before photos but you have shed the ugly and created beauty and lightness. Such a gift for your Gran. You have great talent, Kristine. And it’s wonderful that you are also highlighting items with excellent design at reasonable prices, which those in the real world are used to, thanks to Kmart, Target and Costco. Your blog is wonderful, thank you.

  50. zulejka says:

    This was an amazing transformation! I loved seeing how a house can be transformed even with budget and time “restrictions”. It was actually exciting to read, almost like following your race with time:) I loved it! (I love your personal style more than this here, sure, but it was still amazing to see). Great tips, too!

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