7 things experienced renovators avoid

... so you can get your home reno right
Jacqui Way

Get your renovation off on the right foot by avoiding the mistakes that have tripped up the most seasoned of renovators.

1. Vague plans at the rough-in stage

A rough in is builder talk for the early plumbing and electrical works that are carried out ‘behind the walls’. During a rough-in, electricians will run wiring to all of your pre-determined points – the lights, switches, power points, ovens – everything,” says Lisa Appleby of Realm Building.

“For plumbers, it’s the underfoot drainage points plus behind-the-walls water points that work in and around the wall frame.” While some changes down the track might be okay, some elements may be too difficult – or expensive – to reposition, so a precise up-front plan is always preferable.”

2. Cramped bathroom layout

Freestanding baths can be found in lengths from 1500mm, making them brilliant for smaller bathrooms. Allow 800mm clearance from the wall parallel to the bath and 200mm either side, so it doesn’t appear cramped, says Patricia La Torre from Outsideinside Building Elements.

Bathroom | Home Beautiful Australia
(Credit: Jacqui Way)

3. Not future-proofing

It’s a wise homeowner who makes design decisions with one eye on the future. “We need to think in terms of the life cycle of a home, so it can adapt with the people who occupty it, “ says Scott Harper of Genliving. This could involve incorporating a second master bedroom into a renovation, splitting the two-storey family home into self-contained levels, or just reimagining the garage.

“We have many clients who need a design that will still work as their kids become adults, or they’re looking to build their last home and want flexibility so they can age in place,” explains Will Leave of Ewert Leaf architects. “It’s about zoning and adaptability.”

4. Doing everything cheap or everything expensive

Be savvy with where you spend and where you save,” says Lana Taylor of Three Birds Renovations. “Spending on the right type of benchtop can be a great investment, even with a flat pack kitchen. In another house we did a big dressing room.

We had our carpenter build the frame and hang Ikea cabinet doors that were $50 each. But then we put in a beautiful chandelier and an ottoman, and we got feedback from people asking, ‘Who did your cabinetry?’ Don’t do everything cheap, and don’t do everything luxury and expensive.”

Kitten | Home Beautiful Australia

5. Minimising the role of task lighting

It’s easy to focus on hero lighting in bathrooms, kitchens and studies, but you need to take overhead and task lighting into account. “Under-cabinet lighting provides task lighting while you’re working or applying make-up, with the bonus of highlighting the finish of your joinery,” says interior designer Donna Guyler.

6. Blowing your budget on a butler’s pantry

Incorporating a butler’s pantry into a kitchen renovation can easily cause a major budget blow-out. To keep costs down, opt for less expensive finishes in the tucked-away utility space.

7. Getting white wrong

An all-white scheme is the instant go-to for a lasting look, but to guard against a sterile space, it needs an element of texture – think honed marble or penny-round mosaics – to bring it to life. This could be as simple as a timber vanity unity or pale grey tiles.

“If a client wanted an all-white bathroom I would suggest using a handmade wall tile such as a subway or square shape to add interest,” says interior architect Sally Rhys-Jones of Rhys/Jones Interior Architecture. “They add subtle texture that is really beautiful when the light hits them.”

The good news – classic doesn’t necessarily mean light colours, as Serena Elise interior designer of White Chalk Desing reveals. Grey, charcoal, earthy tones and, of course, the ageless pairing of black and white all defy the fluctuations of fashion. “Try being creative and introducing dark navy cabinets with a light grey benchtop,” says Serena.

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