How to make you home look expensive on a budget: Three Birds Renovations share their styling tips

How to make you home look expensive on a budget: Three Birds Renovations share their styling tips

The home styling experts and interior designer trio from Three Birds Renovations have shared their top tips for freshen up your home on any budget – and the common renovating mistakes that can cost you in the long run. 

Erin Cayless, Bonnie Hindmarsh and Lana Taylor suggested budget tricks from rearranging furniture for a new layout to buying ‘soft stuff’ and even stealing styling notes from the garden.

However, they have some words of warning for renovators and revealed some costly mistakes people make while transforming their homes including skimping on trades, not sticking to budgets and starting without a clear vision of the style you’re after. 

How to make you home look expensive on a budget: Three Birds Renovations share their styling tips

Erin Cayless, Bonnie Hindmarsh and Lana Taylor (pictured left-right) of Three Birds Renovations have shared their tips for restyling your home with a budget of $100 to $10,000

‘Getting towards the end of your renovation and realising you’ve totally blown your budget or, worse still, not having the funds to finish can be devastating,’ they told FEMAIL.

They said to plan carefully, manage quotes, and add contingency plans for unexpected extras that will ‘inevitably’ crop up throughout the project. 

While the trio said they are ‘all for’ DIYs in some areas of a home reno, one area  worth splurging is professional, licenced tradespeople. 

The trio suggested budget tricks from rearranging furniture for a new layout to buying 'soft stuff' and even stealing some styling notes from the garden

The trio suggested budget tricks from rearranging furniture for a new layout to buying ‘soft stuff’ and even stealing some styling notes from the garden

‘We’re big believers that you should play to your best skill set – for us that’s the planning, design and project management, we leave the tools to the paid professionals,’ they said. 

‘Yes, it costs us more upfront but the completion time is a fraction of what it would take us (and time is money!) and the end result is high quality.’

Below, Bonnie, Lana and Erin share how to breathe new life into your space whether you have $10,000 or only $100 to spend.

$100 AND UNDER

Erin, Bonnie and Lana recommend starting a small spruce up by decluttering the room you’re restyling and clearing out all the stuff that’s ‘just adding mess’ by putting on a garage sale or using Facebook marketplace which can, in turn, increase your budget. 

‘While it’s empty, give the space a good clean, windows included. You never realise how dirty your windows are until they get cleaned! This can make a big difference to the light in the room,’ they explained. 

The home stylists said upcycling old furniture that ‘need a little bit of love’ will be friendly to tight budgets.  

‘Whether that means updating a piece of furniture you already have, raiding granny’s attic or scouring your local buy/sell/ swap pages for a bargain (someone’s trash is another’s treasure, right?). A coat of paint or whitewash can bring these items back to life,’ they suggested. 

‘Rearrange your furniture to give the room a fresh layout. Cushions, candles and vases, filled with greenery from your garden can be purchased cheaply and are some of our favourite styling items whether you’re on a budget or not.’

If you have just $100 to spend, the renovator pros said to upcycle some old furniture or buy candles and vases to fill with fresh greenery from your own garden

If you have just $100 to spend, the renovator pros said to upcycle some old furniture or buy candles and vases to fill with fresh greenery from your own garden

Three Birds Renovations: How to freshen up your home’s style on any budget 

$100  

  • Sell old furniture on Facebook marketplace or put on a garage sale to add to your budget
  • Give your space a good clean – including the windows to let in extra light 
  • Upcycle old furniture from your home or local Buy/Sell Swap pages 
  • Declutter unnecessary mess  
  • Rearrange a room’s layout to spruce up a space

$500

  • Buy soft stuff like rugs, linen, pillows and cushions
  • Invest in new bed linen and pillows – at least four plus a feature cushion
  • Add some greenery, fresh or faux, for freshness

$1,000 

  • Give walls a fresh lick of paint 
  • White paint can transform any space to be lighter, brighter, fresher 

$5,000

  • Choose a key piece of furniture like a new sofa, dining table or chairs
  • Paint bathroom cabinets
  • Update tapware and cupboard, drawer and door handles to gold

$10,000

  • Make outdated kitchen cabinets look modern with some paint
  • Update blinds, 
  • Adding some stylish homewares 
  • Install new pendant lights 

$10,000 plus

  • Add some cladding or moulding to walls before painting for a high-end look
  • Swap out light fittings and door hardware to match your chosen style
  • A few key pieces of new furniture and styling items will have a big impact 

$500 AND UNDER 

If you’re working with a budget up to $500, Three Birds said to buy some ‘soft stuff’ like linen, pillows, cushions and rugs that can ‘works wonders’ to conceal tired carpet or floorboards.

‘If it’s a bedroom you’re styling, new bed linen on all the beds will make it feel like a whole new room. And don’t forget the pillows! You’ll need at least four plus a feature cushion or two,’ they said. 

‘In the lounge room, you can spruce things up with a set of new cushions and a throw for the couches and chairs. This can help distract from dated furniture or just make your existing stuff feel new again.’

If you're working with a budget up to $500, Three Birds said to buy some 'soft' stuff like linen, pillows, cushions and rigs that can 'works wonders' to conceal tired carpet or floorboards

If you’re working with a budget up to $500, Three Birds said to buy some ‘soft’ stuff like linen, pillows, cushions and rigs that can ‘works wonders’ to conceal tired carpet or floorboards

$1,000 AND UNDER 

‘A fresh coat of paint does wonders for any room,’ the trio said. 

‘We love white paint because it can transform any space into a lighter, brighter, fresher version of its former self and for the fact it pretty much goes with any furniture and styling items.’ 

Swapping out light pendants and cupboard door and drawer handles can be an inexpensive way to give a room a new lease on life. 

Retailers like Big W, Kmart and IKEA have furniture and homewares that are stylish and budget friendly.

Before: Three Birds completely transformed an outdated bathroom into a dreamy, luxurious space for less than $4,500

Before: Three Birds completely transformed an outdated bathroom into a dreamy, luxurious space for less than $4,500

After: The highest cost was $1,476 for the gold tapware on the shower, sink and bath that adds a touch of luxury and made the room look high end

After: The highest cost was $1,476 for the gold tapware on the shower, sink and bath that adds a touch of luxury and made the room look high end

$5,000 AND UNDER 

‘Choose a key piece of furniture that will be the hero in the space – perhaps a new sofa, dining table or chairs. Then go to town styling the room to suit this new piece,’ they suggested. 

Previously, the renovators completely transformed an outdated bathroom into a dreamy, luxurious space for less than $4,500.

How Three Birds renovated a kitchen for under just $8,965 

Painting labour

Paint

Sink

Pendants

Plumber

Tap

Handyman

Electrician

Blind

Cabinet handles

Stool 

– $2,295

– $1,468

– $1,240

– $798

– $530

– $461

– $455

– $353

– $313

– $282

– $70 

The highest cost was $1,476 for the gold tapware on the shower, sink and bath that added a touch of luxury and made the room look high end. 

Secondly, they used paint that can withstand high-humidity and protect against mould and mildew at $1,139.

Some elements of the makeover cost under $100 including the mirror for $40 and cabinet handles for $67. 

$10,000 AND UNDER 

‘If your kitchen cabinetry is still in good nick but needs some love to bring it into the current decade, you could achieve it on this budget,’ they said. 

Lana, Bonnie and Erin managed to renovate an old kitchen for under $9,000 by giving the walls and cabinets a lick of paint, updating hardware, tapware and blinds, adding some stylish homewares and new pendant lights. 

They said to splurge on professional trades for the tough jobs to save money in the long run. 

‘We’re all for DIY to save some cash but some jobs are better left to the licensed professionals,’ they said. 

‘You may think you’re saving money by doing everything yourself but when you consider the time it takes you and the quality of the end result, the benefit of DIY often just doesn’t pay off.’

They renovated a kitchen for under $9,000 by painting the walls and cabinets, updating hardware, tapware and blinds, adding some stylish homewares and new pendant lights

They renovated a kitchen for under $9,000 by painting the walls and cabinets, updating hardware, tapware and blinds, adding some stylish homewares and new pendant lights

Lana, Bonnie and Erin said to splurge on getting professional trades in to get the tough jobs done right to save money in the long run

Lana, Bonnie and Erin said to splurge on getting professional trades in to get the tough jobs done right to save money in the long run

$10,000 PLUS 

‘With this kind of budget, you have the flexibility to add some cladding or moulding to the walls of your home before painting for a more high-end look,’ they said. 

A huge budget with endless options can be overwhelming for novice renovators so Three Birds recommend creating a mood board to have a clear vision of the style you want to achieve. 

‘We see so many renovators selecting products that just don’t suit their home because they didn’t set a clear vision to help them choose,’ they said. 

‘You might choose to swap out light fittings and door hardware to suit your new vision board. In addition, a few key pieces of new furniture and styling items will have a big impact.’ 

Three Birds’ five most common mistakes to avoid when renovating

1. Starting without a clear vision

The very first thing we teach people is how to create a vision board that becomes the bible for their renovation. 

A vision board summarises the end goal of a renovation or styling project visually on one handy page that will make selecting fittings, fixtures and furniture a breeze throughout the project. 

We see so many renovators selecting products that just don’t suit home because they didn’t set a clear vision to help them choose.

2. Budget blowouts 

Blowing your renovation budget through lack of careful planning and quote management or failing to add a contingency budget for unexpected extras that will inevitably pop up throughout the project can definitely be costly.

3. Failing to choose a ‘Dream Team’ 

In the current climate, when good tradies are like hen’s teeth, it’s tempting to jump on the first trades who say ‘yes’ to taking on your job. 

Perhaps you got lucky and caught them with a break in their schedule but pretty please don’t let that stop you doing your due diligence to ensure they’re the rock stars you need on your tradie Dream Team.

4. Not using the professionals for tough jobs 

We’re big believers that you should play to your best skill set – for us that’s the planning, design and project management, we leave the tools to the paid professionals. 

Yes, it costs us more upfront but the completion time is a fraction of what it would take us and the end result is high quality. 

5. Forgetting the landscaping 

Erin, Lana and Bonnie said not to forget about landscaping when renovating

Erin, Lana and Bonnie said not to forget about landscaping when renovating 

A gorgeous garden can be the cherry on the top of your dream home renovation. Failing to plan for landscaping in your budget is a cardinal sin in our books – but it’s a commonly committed one!

We recommend approaching your landscaping budget as you would your home reno budget; be detailed and allow for a contingency.

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