At the very onset, let me clarify that these are very subjective tips because they are completely based on my personal experience. They may work for you, and they totally may not. I am definitely not boasting of an interior design cover-worthy house but about how to renovate a simple middle-class home.
But the point of this post is to share what we went through while renovating our house and hopefully help all my readers take some positives from the lessons we learnt.
To give a background, the house we currently live in was a property we had owned for a long time (around 10 years) and when we decided to move here, the house was basically in the as-is condition given by the developers, which translated into bare walls, no wardrobes, a really small kitchen, bathroom tiles that screamed the 1990s, and a backyard that had weeds coming out of every corner. The backyard and lots of sunshine are what made me finally move to this house. The promise of grass and homegrown vegetables was something I could not resist. When we decided to renovate the house, we were exasperated. Where should we start and how much should we spend? But four months later, we are living in the labour of our love and while it may not be much to a lot of people out there, it is certainly more important to us than the Taj Mahal and Eiffel Tower put together.
Five tips we learnt on the way of renovating our house
Skip the Interior Designer
Although we were thinking about hiring an interior designer to do up the place, we eventually decided against it. The reasons- I didn’t want to live in a house that was someone else’s version of what we envisioned for our house, I had enough confidence in our sensibilities to convert this house into a home, and frankly, we could not afford one on our budget.
We opted to hire a contractor who would be able to work according to our interior design ideas & directions and yet would be able to pull off the civil work required in the renovation. We wanted a contemporary look for the house and wanted it to look uncluttered yet full of personality. Armed with scores of interior design magazines I had collected over the years and our gut instinct we started the renovation.
Break some Walls
Honestly, space is in your mind. Just focus and you will be able to create space from the most unlikely place.
In our master bedroom, there was an entrance to a utility area that was adjacent to the master bathroom. There was another entrance to a small store too, in the bedroom. A single wall separated the utility area from the store. We broke down this wall and closed the entrance to the utility area, and what resulted was a large space which we have now converted into a walk-in closet and dressing area.
Similarly, all it took was tearing down the wall of the kitchen and removing the door to create an open kitchen that not only looks spacious but is also the kind of space where friends can hang out while one is cooking dinner.
Although we might not be able to recreate a french look from the latest edition of better homes and garden or copy an ethnic look of the royal palace, we can still recreate a spotlight piece which will accentuate the theme you want for your room or house.
I saw a headboard that I wanted to recreate for my bedroom. As I analysed the design, I found out that it was basically a particle board with some sort of accent tiles or stones set into it. I searched high and low for these pieces and finally found imported tiles that are set on a thin mat and can be easily cut to fit into any space. We were able to create a designer headboard for less than half the price of what it would have cost. In fact, from the two tile pieces that were left from the headboard, we were able to create two side tables with the accent pieces set into them. Score!!!
From a picture I had found on the internet, we were able to create our dream kitchen.
So take as much inspiration as you can. All it takes is a bit of ingenuity to pull them off in real life. Check out sample flats in under-construction building complexes. These builders hire professional designers to decorate the sample flats, and you can use their ideas to create your own designer flat.
Research, research and research
One of the biggest cash sucks is the appliances which you need in a new home. Believe me when I say that the price range on appliances is just off the charts. We were looking for a chimney hood and lots of stores gave us the quote of Rs 20,000/- but we kept on searching for a better deal and finally at a traders’ store for less than 20,000 we got a high-end chimney hood and a glass hob. Is that a deal or what!!! Similarly, we found deals on LED televisions, refrigerators and even kitchen sinks. So research prices thoroughly before you make a final deal.
Another area where people tend to spend a lot of money is the furnishings and the one tip I can give you for that is to go online. India is in the throes of an e-commerce revolution and you can save a bomb when buying from online home furnishing stores. I have bought cushion covers, photo frames, bedcovers and various knick-knacks at a steal price from these online stores. Some of the prominent ones are good
The house is still a work in progress and there are weekend shopping expeditions and online searches to find the perfect pieces to complement the decor. But that is how you convert a house into a home with patience, feelings and lots of love.