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Home makeover tips and tricks you need, from Three Birds Renovations

High key living room with an arched window.

Credits: Three Birds Renovations | Project: House 13

The stars of Three Birds Renovations, Bonnie Hindmarsh, Lana Taylor and Erin Cayless give us 12 of their best reno tips of all time. They’ll be sure to inspire you to design, renovate and style the home of your dreams.

Starting your home makeover 

A vision board is crucial to nailing the style of your renovation and keeping on track throughout the renovation process. We teach budding renovators exactly how to do this in our six-week online course, The Reno School. We also get our inspiration from Instagram, Pinterest, holidays we’ve been on and hotels we love, the list goes on.

Create and stick to a budget 

You’ll need to have a good handle on your budget right from the start. There’s no point engaging with trades before you have some idea of the budget you have to work with. They’ll be able to help you with quotes to make it more accurate.

Plan, plan, and plan again

Renovations can be daunting, but with enough planning and ensuring you have a clear vision of what you want to achieve, it can be really enjoyable. You only get one chance to get it right so nailing the layout and considering if you want areas like a built-in outdoor BBQ, is essential in the planning stage. 

Don’t be afraid of big projects

Believe it or not, you can turn any house around – sometimes the more dilapidated the better. We know from experience – the first renovation the Three Birds ever did was a hoarder’s hovel; the garden was so overgrown you could barely see the house and the neighbour swore the same bed sheet had been hanging on the Hills Hoist for over 10 years! As long as everything is structurally sound, it’ll stand up to rehab.

Invest in quality appliances

There’s no two ways about it. Tapware, sinks, and appliances are an investment in your home that will instantly enhance the look and feel. Always do your research, particularly with appliances, to make sure they meet the needs of your family. Our go-to for appliances for House 13 was Electrolux. There’s nothing worse than a dishwasher or washing machine that’s too small for your family’s needs!

Add kitchen storage

If you have the space, adding a butler’s pantry can be handy to prepare food without messing up your main kitchen and for storage of appliances and larger items like platters that might clutter your main kitchen. You could go all out, like Bonnie, and include an extra oven and fridge in there, which might be handy for a large family.

Invest in the kitchen

Putting money into a kitchen will always pay off – if you can only afford to renovate one room, make it your kitchen. Create window and door openings that connect the kitchen with the outdoors and upgrade the bench tops with engineered stone. 

Always think about storage 

Storage is always a biggie. You can never have enough storage, so think creatively about how to add more. For example, dead spaces, like along the side of an island bench where the stools go, is a great place for cupboards for things that don’t get used regularly. We especially love the Electrolux 501L Stainless Steel Refrigerator because it lets you customise the storage spaces for bulky or small items.

Every room needs a focal point

It can be a structural element, like a picture window or fireplace, or a piece of statement furniture or artwork. Once you’ve determined that, build the rest of the room around it, starting with big-ticket items like large furniture pieces. Without homewares, trinkets, books, and candles, a room can end up looking more like a hotel than a home. But it’s best to leave these items until last, after all the major furniture and soft furnishings are in place.

Balance open space

Australians love open-plan living. But we learned the hard way that there is such a thing as too open plan. One of our renovations saw us having to add walls back in between exchange and settlement because buyers were concerned about noise travelling between the two open living areas. It was like residential reverse psychology – the exact thing we thought made the house more liveable had, in fact, done exactly the opposite. Not a mistake you make twice!

Consider your home’s purpose

The main objective of creating a vision board is to capture not only how you want your family home to look, but also how you want your family to feel in the home. The layout, functionality, etc. all have a massive impact on family life.

Avoid fads and short-lived trends 

We prefer to keep our bold design choices to features that can be changed over time, like paint and furnishings.