Tips that won’t bust the budget

04 Oct Tips that won’t bust the budget

Recently I was asked by Money magazine to write a few comments for an article on Renovations that Won’t Bust the Budget. Focusing mainly on the kitchen and bathroom areas, here is what we discussed.

Question: What are bathroom improvements you could make that won’t bust the budget?


Tip 1. Splash out on new architectural hardware

Update tired old door and draw handles, taps and tap fittings. Update toilet seats with new ones that keep within the era of the bathroom. Avoid using contemporary styles for a Federation era bathroom. Save dollars by sourcing quality fittings from retail outlets / seconds stores.

Tip 2. Repair or replace grouting

Repair any grout found to be in disrepair. Gaps in grouting or mould can drag down the appearance of your entire bathroom. If your budget allows, re-grout throughout. Be adventurous, move away from traditional white and try a coloured grout that blends with the existing tiles. If your budget does not extend to the entire bathroom, re-grout the shower recess and around bathtub and vanity seals.

Tip 3. Invest in a fabulous mirror

Nothing gives a bathroom a new look quicker than an updated mirror or slim line mirrored storage unit to store your personal items.

Tip 4. Give the bathroom or kitchen walls a lift

A fresh coat of paint is key to every renovation make-over. Have your local paint supplier put a few squirts of anti-mould into your preferred paint colour or use a pre-mixed preparation specifically for bathrooms and wet areas.

Making a comeback in the bathroom is wallpaper, it is a creative and cost effective method of adding some luxury into your bathroom.

Tip 5. A new look to an old surface

Painting ceramic tiles is an easy and inexpensive way to cover up old and ugly wall tiles. Be sure to use tile paint specific for this purpose and specific to the composition of your tiles. I do not recommend painting the floor as often the surface can remain slippery. If needed, replace floor tiles with new ones.

Tip 6. Go luxe on bath linen and accessories to decorate

Luxurious towels, glamorous soap dispensers, scented candles and good quality faux flowers are a must-do in a bathroom renovation of any budget.

Renovation Question: Any suggestions for inexpensive ways to renovate the kitchen?


Kitchen tip 1: Budget kitchen renovations

Buy flat pack kitchen cupboards and either have them installed by a professional or install them yourself.

Kitchen tip 2: Update rather than replace

If your budget doesn’t allow for new kitchen cupboards, have existing cupboards professionally sprayed in a crisp clean colour. At the very least have dents and chips painted out to colour match to your existing cupboards.

Kitchen tip 3: Update handles and fittings

Replace door and drawer handles and tap fittings to instantly give an updated look.

Kitchen tip 4: A new counter top gives a clean impression.

Laminate products have come a long way recently and are a more economical option than many other counter top options. There is a wide range of looks to choose from and laminate is fast becoming the product of choice for all areas of the kitchen – counter tops, cupboard doors, even the floor in the form of a wood-look laminate.


Kitchen tip 5: Update the splash back.

Take the whole look of the kitchen back to basics and revisit the splash back as one of the first items to change. Consider coloured, frosted or mirror-reflective glass as budget saving options. Mosaic tiles are always a favourite.

Kitchen tip 6: Review and replace lighting

Kitchen lighting is probably one of the biggest design mistakes people make. The secret to lighting is to layer. Consider lighting for the core tasks such as cooking and eating. Light up your kitchen with pendants or halogens and over bench lights for a brighter work space. Finish with a decorative layer to create an atmosphere of relaxation by fitting dimmers on ceiling lights or back-lights in frosted glass cabinets. Strip LED’s are an effective way to light up an island bench or use floor lights for delicate washes of light.

Question: Any tips on keeping renovations costs down in general?

Identify your budget and stick to it. Creating an overall Vision Statement for your home renovation and a Mission Statement for each room or area is the first step I use in determining the budget. This process also ensures the project stays true to the goals of its owner.

Effective planning is key to keeping renovation costs down. Time spent in the early planning phase pays dividends further into the project. Mistakes and changes can be costly.

If you feel you do not have the expertise to perform a renovation task, seek the services of an industry professional such as North Shore Interiors. Industry professionals will save and even make you money by providing advice and workmanship that produce a superior result, whilst increasing the functionality and property value of your home.

About Linda Delaney and North Shore Interiors

Linda Delaney is the owner and manager of North Shore Interiors, a company that provides interior design, decorating, styling and project management services to Sydney’s lower north shore and greater Sydney metropolitan area.

Linda has been seen in Habitus, Inside Out, Grand Designs Australia and Money magazines. She is also a regular contributor for leading Australian interior design publications, Home Design and the annual Design & Decoration. Watch out for more of Linda’s work featured in the media.

Contact Linda at or on 0432 716 558.