Budget-Friendly Home That Looks Like A Million Bucks

I love it when I come across a small-budget renovation because a lot of people think to have a million dollar "look" the renovations need to cost that much and it's just not true. I once was involved renovations on a regular basis, mostly city apartments but some homes and commercial spaces too, and I can assure you that the budget you set rarely is met - it's always exceeded and by thousands, sometimes tens of thousands. Have you found that to be the case too?


Mostly, it's the labor that drives up costs. Don't you think? You try to save on labor by hiring less expensive contractors only to find that they need 3x the hand holding and double the time to complete the project as the more expensive professionals you'd turned down. Contractors can be so shady and if you've ever renovated a house outside of your own country, it gets even more complicated.

When I worked on renovating the apartment we currently have in the city (when I was 7 months pregnant!), our paint/wallpaper budget was 5k and it ended up being 10k in the end due to miscommunication, misunderstandings and just one thing after another that you'd never had even thought to factor in if you were still in your home country doing the same work.


This small-budget (well not SMALL but I guess based on how it turned out and where it's located - it's small) renovation of a 1930's California-style bungalow in Sydney’s Lower North Shore is minimalist and gorgeous. (The total cost of the build was $410k.) The challenge was to reconfigure the home with living spaces that connected to the garden which would include a rear addition connected to the original space, all on a very tight budget. I love the angles, the natural light, the openness. Isn't it a terrific space?

The family of four had a wish list for this reno:

  1. Lots of natural light
  2. Space for kids
  3. Transform the kitchen into a gathering space

Clearly, their wishes we both met and exceeded by the firm they'd hired, Architect Prineas.


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If you want to read all about it, you can over at Inside Out where they've interviewed the homeowners for the nitty gritty renovation low down.

(Photography: Chris Warnes)