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Know-How: 7 renovation tips for first-time home buyers 

You’ve taken the property plunge, and now you’re eager to turn your first purchase into your interior dream home. But how do you start this renovation journey?

We took a tour of first-time buyers @number_thirty_one inspiring success story and discovered their budget-friendly DIY tips.


Tip 1. How did you start your renovating journey as first home buyers?

We had to stretch ourselves to get the house that we wanted in the location that we wanted. We were quite mindful that we didn't want to start splurging with the interior and hiring people.

It's surprising how much you can actually do yourselves if you think about it and put your mind to it—there's a lot that you can learn online with YouTube videos and things like that.

Tip 2. Did you have to get an engineer and builder in?

We were lucky with the wall that we wanted to knock through; it was just a stud wall, and we got one of our family friends to help. He had power tools, and he helped knock that through without creating any damage.

When on a tight budget, I think it makes you realize what you can actually do yourself, and people are doing their own panelling and reupholstering furniture, and it shows a DIY approach can pay off. For their small 1930s home, a young couple chose our streamlined Clara sofa in Cosmic Latte (featured above) and painted their lounge room in All White by @farrowandball.

Tip 3. What was your strategy behind making your lounge room feel special?

We wanted to think about how we use our space, and we also wanted to keep the lounge separate. It's more of a snug kind of lounge that we don't use often. We spend most of our time in the kitchen and dining, so the lounge is our evening area with the fireplace and watching a film.

Tip 4. How did you create more light in your period home?

We were happy to make the kitchen and dining area open plan and keep the lounge separate. And then, with regards to the hallway, because the previous owners had blocked up the door leading through to the kitchen, it felt like quite an enclosed space and quite dark. So we knocked it through, which means when you enter the front door, you can see all the way through to the garden now.

It's worth considering how you want to use the space in your home, and it's also nice to keep the lounge private while still maintaining the kind of social space in the kitchen and dining room.

Tip 5. How did you use paint to elevate your tight-budget scheme?

When we bought the house, it had an original built-in unit, which we loved and at first painted white. But we found that it didn't stand out with the wooden floor, the wooden table and chairs, and I felt like it was getting lost, so I painted it navy to stand out.

The room itself is a south-facing dining room, and it's really light and bright with most of the colour scheme is quite light, and the navy then creates more depth. It's also nice to bring that kind of accent through, and it showcases the unit's contents and is more of a display cabinet than just for storage.

Tip 6. Favourite first-home renovation tip that you have learned during this process?

Our tip is to start with a blank canvas. For example, we first painted the whole house white, and that's because when we moved in, we had wallpapers and bright colours everywhere like dated greens, blues and even purple. So we stripped all the wallpaper off and painted it white, and created a completely blank canvas. And then, from there, it was a case of thinking, "how do I want the house to feel?"

"To elevate your interior space, I would always try and think of the overall scheme for the house and the kind of flow from room to room."

Tip 7. How did embracing a DIY approach help your budget?

Definitely thinking about light because that makes a huge difference to colour. And so I would advise to select four to six key colours that you really like and make sure they all work together and then think about how you might apply them to each room.

Plus, if you've got any big pieces of furniture that you don't want to get rid of, considering how they'll tie in as well. For example, I didn't want to pay for a new one with our bed, but I didn't really like the headboards anymore, so we sprayed it.

It's just thinking about what you own and how you can change it - there's so much you can DIY, whether it's upcycling furniture or finding vintage pieces and fixing them up, so you don't have to buy everything new all the time.

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