How To Get Started On Your Home Renovation

When it comes to renovating, some people know what they’re doing & others don’t. So many people find it difficult, just to get started on their home renovation with fear & the unknown, often getting the better of them …

Know this – you should never be scared to renovate or style any part of your home, even if you’re doing so, on a budget. There’s no need to work yourself up into an emotional state, getting flustered before your reno has even begun. The key to avoid all of this, is knowing strategically where you begin …

Start Your Renovation With “The End In Mind”

Before you get started on your home renovation, pick paint colours, fabrics or furniture, sit down & decide on a style – that is, a theme or general look for your whole home.

There are some common interior design styles out there such as classic, contemporary, modern, Hamptons, the list goes on. You can mix certain elements from one style into another, but overall, you must have 1 consistent theme running through all the rooms in your property. This sense of “design cohesion” is the starting point you’ll work from. It means everything in your home looks like it belongs together, rather than a mishmash of ideas all thrown together.

To explain it another way – think of renovating your home like baking a cake. Before you start that cake, you’d plan what sort of cake you want, what flavour it would be, what ingredients you’ll need & what you want the cake to look like. Believe it or not, getting started on your home renovation is no different.

To kickstart your renovation, one of the very best things you can do is start with a “mood board”. Think of this as your initial masterplan. It sounds super airy fairy but it’s actually not!

A masterplan is just a fancy word for your grand plan of attack, while a mood board is a collection of images that try to best capture how you want your rooms or your whole home to look & feel. Because you can’t design, transform or even style your rooms in isolation of each other, you need to do a mood board so you have 1 consistent design theme running throughout your home. 1 personality & nothing more.

Just 2 weeks ago, I bought my latest project, an unrenovated Australian homestead at the foot of the Blue Mountains in Sydney. See below:

As soon as the Contract of Sale was signed, the first thing I started on this home renovation was my mood board. I’ll be doing a structural reno to this property, turning it into hopefully, the “ultimate modern farmhouse”. If you want to follow the progress of this reno, be sure to join my Facebook or Insta page.

In order to brief my architect, she needs to know what’s in my head. I find one of the easiest ways to convey my thoughts to others is through my mood board. You know the saying “a picture paints a thousand words” … this is why mood boards are so powerful. Without giving away all the details of this project yet, here’s a small snippet of what I gave my architect this week.

Start Your Reno With A Mood Board

Creating your mood board is super easy; anyone can do it. There are 2 main ways to go about it …

The old-fashioned way is to buy 1 or more sheets of white cardboard from your local newsagency. Start cutting out images from home magazines, supplier brochures, internet printouts, as well as collecting paint, fabric & wallpaper swatches of things you like. Stick all of these things on your cardboard once you’re happy with everything. Hang your mood board on site when your reno begins so your tradies can see what you’re trying to achieve. Websites such as Pinterest & Houzz will provide plenty of design inspiration for this.

The more modern & easier way to create your mood board is online. You complete the same process of collecting all the images you like, but you’re not cutting or printing anything out. You’re copying & pasting into an online mood board such as Canva or at the very minimum Microsoft PowerPoint or a Google spreadsheet so it can be shared with others.

Just giving you an early heads up … you can easily spend hours, if not days sifting through thousands of images on the internet! Dump all the images you really like into your mood board as a first starting point. Then, once you’re sick of gathering home images, go back to your board & start a process of elimination. Cull the images you originally liked but now don’t like as much. Being exposed to so many images, intrinsically helps you zone in on what you really do & don’t like. Try & get to a position where the only images on your mood board really do capture the essence of the look you’re hoping for. That’s how you’ll ultimately undercover what your style is which motivates you by default, to get started on your home renovation.

If you’re making over your whole home, it’s not unusual to have a mood board for each room. If you can’t be bothered going to that extent, 1 main mood board will suffice. And, when you’re doing your mood board, think about what you want the rooms in your home to do for you & how they should feel. Ideally, capture those feelings in your mood board images.

Start Your Home Renovation With A Realistic Budget

Try to have a rough budget at the back of your mind before starting your home renovation & especially before you pull your mood board together. There’s no point putting images of high-end fixtures & furnishings on your mood board, if you’re working with a more modest budget. You’re just setting yourself up to fail. Good interior design is important, but it’s equally as important not to overdo it & stick to your budget.

A good rule of thumb is to spend no more than 15% of your current property value on a full cosmetic renovation, covering all of the internals & externals of your home, to ensure you don’t overcapitalise on your property. For a property valued at $500,000, your reno budget should be no more than $75,000. The only exception to this, is if there’s evidence of higher property resale values in your suburb that warrant the extra spend.

If you’re property is screaming out for a structural renovation, where parts of your home need to be demolished & rebuilt, there’s no set formula for what you should spend. Your budget should be very much guided on what local property values are selling for, what your property is worth currently and the gap in between that. This can help you determine how little or far you go with your property & what you spend.

Now for those of you who have no-where near this sort of money to spend, you’ll be glad to know you don’t need to spend up big to make your rooms look fabulous. Rooms can be transformed cost effectively with the right know-how. For example, the average kitchen reno is typically upwards of $30,000 these days. I cosmetically transformed this kitchen last week for just $5K, proving a limited budget shouldn’t stop you from renovating.

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When faced with a limited budget, the top 5 internal improvements you can make to your home are to change:

  1. Your paint colours;
  2. Your flooring;
  3. Your window furnishings;
  4. Your lighting;
  5. Your furniture & styling items.


Don’t Start Your Renovation With Overwhelm

We all know renovation is up there with death & divorce in terms of stress levels. Many people get overwhelmed, often delegating their reno to the “too hard” basket. If you fit this description, here’s my best piece of advice: tackle 1 room at a time, rather than trying to do your whole home all at once.

Which rooms can you start with? By far, the easiest rooms to renovate are your bedrooms. They’re fun ones to do as bedrooms can be far more expressive with paint colours & styling items, being people’s private space which others typically don’t see. These rooms typically don’t need a swat team of tradies & they aren’t fixture & fittings heavy, in comparison to other rooms such as your kitchen or bathrooms. Stuff those rooms up & they’re costly to fix. Any mistakes made in your bedroom are far easier to correct so can often be a good place for newbie renovators to start with.

Other great & easy rooms to start off with are your lounge room, dining room or rumpus room (if you have one). Remember these are the “communal” rooms in your home where visitors will spend time in, so make sure they’re not too expressive. Make them more neutral & use pops of colour in your furniture & styling items to inject personality into these rooms.

Last but not least, before you start your renovation, ask yourself these 5 key design questions:

  1. What do I really love & hate about my place right now?

Keep all the things you love & eradicate the things you don’t.

  1. What practical needs aren’t being met in the room that I should fix?

Go room by room & document what problems you need to get corrected.

  1. What interior style or mix of styles do I really love?

Get your mood boards happening so you can really definite the style you aiming to achieve.

  1. What furniture and furnishings do I want to keep and what should go?

Identifying that list early on will help keep your budget under control.

  1. What’s my rough budget?

Don’t spend more on your property than what it’s truly worth.

At the end of the day, while starting your home renovation seems like a daunting task, it really isn’t. Tackle these easy tasks, one baby step at a time. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day nor does your home renovation 🙂

For more detailed information about How To Get Started On Your Home Renovation, listen to my latest podcast episode now called:  Step 1 – Creating Your Masterplan.

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Much love,

Cherie x

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  1. Very inspiring, I was feeling overwhelmed as to where to start and how to take that first step, thank you

    1. Hi Cherie,

      Honestly I was overwhelmed with moving into new city, buying home and now renovating soon. Since am on a tight budget, I started reading about Reno and I bumped into articles and videos by honest you, and my confidence now getting the home Reno done smartly and within my budget is up high.

      Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and inspiring and boosting confidence in many like me.

      Wishing you the best in everything you do.

      Warm regards,

      1. Hi Ramani, thank you so much for your lovely feedback. We are so pleased that you are enjoying Cherie’s blogs & its wonderful to hear they have helped give you some guidance in your upcoming renovation. Cherie Crew x

  2. Hi Cherie

    I loved all your knowledge as it is so practical and it is not hard to see my vision ahead, now that you have clarified the where to start on the renovation.
    Simplicity at its best. Thank you

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