Category: House & Home
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Sub category: Renovate
14 May 2020

How I renovated our family’s dream home one room at a time

By Liz Amaya,

Renovating an entire house is a huge undertaking. Renovating an entire house while raising four kids and working might seem beyond what’s humanly possible – and that’s before you throw in a global pandemic. Pre-coronavirus, my partner and I created our ideal family home one room at a time while juggling busy schedules, keeping an eye on our expenses and making sure we still had quality time with our kids. If you’re taking on a renovation during lockdown, here’s how we broke down our big project into manageable steps that kept us all happy under the one (refurbished) roof.

We took it room by room

When we got down to it, renovating one room at a time was mostly a financial decision for us. We’d decided to live within the renovation so that we didn’t have to pay rent elsewhere, which saved us a bundle of money. It just meant that the project simply had to work with our day-to-day lives.

We broke up the job into steps, and one of these steps included breaking up our living arrangements. We started to think about parts of the house as ‘wings’, so we decided which area we could work on first and then we ‘moved in’ to the opposite end of the house.

Working step by step, room by room, had other pluses beyond being cost-effective. When it was time to add our style using existing pieces in the house to connect it all together, it took a lot of research to find inspiration and things that we liked and wanted to put in our home. That takes time, so it was much easier to tackle in steps.

We got comfy with cosy

Living in the ‘wings’ of the house wasn’t always very cosy, but we made it work. There were six of us living in two bedrooms. We moved bunks into the kids’ room, and my husband and I slept on our mattress on the floor in another room, with the baby in a cot. It was a challenge, to say the least!

The whole project, from planning to completion, took five months. When we first thought about how long it would take, we didn’t create a timeline because we didn’t want the pressure of sticking to that on top of living in such close quarters. We simply worked as fast as we could to get it done. We were painting till 1am most nights – we would do a lot at night when the kids were sleeping in their bunks.

It’s all about a combination of time management, finding time where you can, planning and flexibility. You’ve just got to be smart and work around your commitments. Take any moment of free time to work on your projects, and don’t worry about them stopping and starting – because they will.

We planned to plan

Did I say we planned? About 80% of renovating is the planning, and then 20% is the doing. You’ve got to plan ahead and be okay with saying, “We’re going to do this on this day.” We always tried to make sure we had everything we needed so we could go and do it. But, of course, you often run out of things, and you come across other issues, so you’ve also got to plan to make that inevitable Bunnings trip for an item you don’t have on hand – that’s a given.

When it came time to style each room along the way, I looked for the features of the house that I loved and thought about how they connected throughout the space. Your home has to have a nice flow to it, so your styling should be cohesive and carry from room to room. Instagram and Pinterest are really great for gathering and sorting visual inspiration. I played around with mood boards just to get my head into how a room was going to look. I’d also do a lot of googling for where I could shop to find certain items. So, again, planning is vital, as is knowing where you’ll find the things you want, and when you’ll (eventually) be able to get there. Patience also helps.

My top three tips for renovating your dream home one room at a time
  • Don’t start the project blind. Be practical. Planning saves you time and money in the long run. If you go in winging it, it’s never going to work out. You’re going to spend double, and you’ll spend double your time.
  • Get information wherever you can – do your research, and watch YouTube clips to see how others have done the job before. And research with your budget in mind. Find out as much as you can ahead of time about what things costs and how much you’re going to need.
  • Finally, budgeting is a huge challenge on a project that goes on for months and requires you to hire tradies and spend a substantial amount on materials, so come prepared. Especially at the start of a project, the mere idea of making a budget can be really overwhelming, so a tool like the ING Renovation Calculator can be vital to help you know where to begin.
Check out the ING Renovation Calculator

The article was prepared by Liz Amaya in partnership with ING.  The views expressed in this article are provided independently by Liz Amaya, and ING makes no warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or reliability of the information, nor do we accept any liability or responsibility arising in any way from omissions or errors contained in the content. ING does not recommend any products, services or financial strategies mentioned in this article. ING strongly recommends that you obtain independent advice before you act on the content.

The ING Renovation Calculator tool is hosted by RP Data, trading as CoreLogic Asia Pacific (CoreLogic).

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