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Maintaining a home

What I learned from my kitchen and bathroom renovation

21 September 2018

Many people take a staged approach to their renovation, starting with big ticket items such as the kitchen or bathroom. Renovating in stages can be a great technique if you can’t tackle the whole house at once due to financial or time limitations.

Another great reason to renovate this way is that even though the whole project may take longer to complete, if you renovate one room at a time you can generally keep living in your house while the renovations take place, so you may not need to find somewhere else to live.

Gavin’s story

Home owner Gavin Moore shared his kitchen and bathroom renovation story with us.

When Gavin and his wife Margaret bought their Box Hill North property in 1998, the original 1950s design – complete with pink bathtub and faucet, and cork flooring – was in a liveable but not quite desirable condition. Right from the get-go, Gavin’s mind began ticking away, planning the renovation. 

“I started to build my vision for this place and when we finally decided to start a renovation, it was already planned out in my head – every detail,” Gavin says.

Start your renovation with common rooms

The kitchen and bathroom are common rooms to start with as they’re often the most used rooms in the house, and they’re thought to provide the greatest return on investment. Both can require quite a bit of cost and hard work to transform, so it’s a good idea to know what’s involved before you commit.

The kitchen renovation

Not wanting to dive into a huge renovation all at once, the family started with their kitchen back in 2011.

“It was an old, tired kitchen. We knew it was time to do it up when tiles started falling off the walls,” Gavin explains. 

Thankfully, the Moores family were able to live in their home while the kitchen renovations took place, as they had a small kitchenette with basic facilities in another part of the house. This meant they didn’t need to find somewhere else to live (or eat out every night!) for the 3-4 weeks that the renovation took place.

“We spent about $40,000 on the kitchen,” says Gavin, “but, we went into it knowing it had to be done. We weren’t concerned about the budget, we really wanted to create something that we loved.”

The kitchen renovation involved a complete strip and gut, replacing all old appliances and surfaces, including the old cork flooring.

A few of Gavin’s amazing kitchen renovation ideas included:

  • Fixing a TV into the splashback
  • Installing 3 brand new ovens (standard, microwave and steamer oven) to replace the old stove-top oven unit
  • Installing an innovative matte black sink
  • Installing a “coffee nook”.

The bathroom renovation

“Again, we knew it was time to update our bathroom when tiles started coming away from the walls,” Gavin explains. “It was a very 1950s bathroom, with a tacky pink sink, a tacky pink bathtub, and an ancient-looking tile design.”

The impressive full bathroom renovation took place in 2017, 6 years after the bathroom. Fortunately for the Moores family they have a second bathroom in the house, which they could use while renovations were underway, meaning they didn’t need to skip out on showers for a month! The bathroom’s walls and floor were stripped right back, and Gavin decided to take this opportunity to move the bathroom door, in preparation for a future renovation activity that will involve segmenting the room next to the bathroom.

Rather than purchasing a new bathtub, Gavin and Margaret chose to repurpose the old pink bath “because newer tubs aren’t made of the same hardy materials. They’re a bit more flimsy.”

“We resurfaced the tub to a beautiful pure white,” says Gavin “It cost about the same as buying a new one, but at least this way we can keep the strong structure of the old bath.”

From old school to space age, the new bathroom features:

  • A glass top vanity with LED lights installed to shine through the glass
  • A touch-screen illuminated mirror
  • Illuminated ‘nooks’ in the shower and beside the bathtub
  • A thermal sensing LED light in the showerhead.

My top 5 tips for a kitchen and bathroom renovation

Having gone through the massive process of renovating both kitchen and bathroom, Gavin shares his top tips on renovating these rooms, based on his personal experience and situation:

1. Start with a budget 

“I went into the renovations with everything figured out. I’d spent years visualising the finished product, selecting appliances and fixtures, and I was able to share my own research with the people who worked on the project to get a pretty accurate quote. I wasn’t opting for the cheapest prices, because I knew what I wanted, but I recommend everyone to carefully work out your expected budget – especially if you are budget constrained.”

Plan your budget

2. Avoid changing your mind

“I’d already planned my renovations down to a T."

"If you change your mind halfway through, this is when things are going to get expensive. Go into it with a good plan, select your appliances and fittings before any of the works start.”

3. Work with a good partner

“We worked with a great kitchen specialist and bathroom specialist who managed contractors for us and were able to try and fit all the pieces together to achieve exactly what we wanted. By working with someone you feel comfortable with and can communicate easily with, you can discuss your ideas and get the outcome you’re looking for.”

Find a local tradie

4. Prepare yourself for disappointments

“I ordered a beautiful high-tech tap that my plumber refused to install for me because it didn’t meet approved Australian water safety standards. That was a let-down. We also ran into troubles with the tiles we chose, they couldn’t effectively be cut into the shape they needed to be. We had to compensate in some areas, but in the end we were happy with the result.”

5. Go for visual impact

“Although we had the money to do some impressive things, if you haven’t got a big budget and are trying to do a lot with a small amount of money, I’d recommend go for the areas where you will see the most impact for your money. A lick of paint is enough to freshen things up and make it brighter. We’ve done a bit of this throughout the rest of the house, rather than doing an all-in renovation of each room. Kitchens and bathrooms are money pits – you can pour so much money into them, especially if you’re altering plumbing. If you’re on a tight budget, start with painting or updating the flooring.”

 Explore Suncorp Bank’s Personal Loan options for your renovation

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