Modern renovations you need to make


When you buy a house with a Cohen Handler buyer’s agent, you might think you’ve come to the end of the road. You own a new property, you can move in and get on with your life.

That’s not entirely true. One of the most important parts of buying a piece of real estate is making it your own. If you’re an owner-occupier, then you’ll be living in it for a considerable amount of time. You won’t want to be spending so much time somewhere you don’t like. If you’ve bought a beach house or a holiday home, then it’s likely a getaway retreat, so you should decorate and design it as such. For investors buying a rental property, the home should be turned into somewhere people really want to live, that’s going to be great for attracting tenants.

To make sure your new house is turned into a home, and to do it in a modern way, inside and out, the ideas below will serve as a great starting point. You might even find some inspiration to add to your existing home.

Take care during the inspection process

The best way to make sure you can turn your home into a modern paradise, with your own home decor and style, is to pay attention from the beginning. Some older homes can look fantastic with a modern touch, but some just aren’t going to suit contemporary decoration.

If you’re wanting modern furniture in your home, and are thinking about adding splashes of colour to the walls, then traditional Australian homes might not be the best option. According to the Archicentre Renovation Calculator, making major changes to a 150 square metre home, including a kitchen, laundry and three-bathroom upgrade with roof repairs, new plumbing and new wiring will cost around $180,000.

That’s not a very large home, either. Many people will be looking for at least 300 square metres of floor space, and with more home to renovate, there will be more to pay.

Unfortunately, not everyone has that kind of money to throw around. It’s also worth noting that those changes would only impact the interior of the home. If you want a modern facade, Domain Group suggests setting aside around $15,000 for a major renovation. The landscaping of your home might not be up your alley either, and modernising this can cost a whole lot more, depending on your needs.

An NAB report on the costs of a renovation also states that you should always have a back-up plan for when things go wrong. And in any renovation, something will. Between 10 and 20 per cent is the standard, and if all goes according to plan, then it’s money that can stay tucked away for a rainy day.

Look for a property that’s wired well

Newer homes have wiring that is capable of handling all kinds of new technology.

To avoid some of the major costs of renovating a home, such as re-roofing and re-wiring, it might pay to buy property that includes more modern construction and fittings. That way, when it comes time to install your new smart hub and devices, you don’t have to factor electrician costs into the budget. Newer homes have wiring that is capable of handling all kinds of new technology, and an older home doesn’t.

According to research from Home Toys, a trade magazine in America, installed wiring is worth four times as much. That’s because of the hassle of getting new wiring into a home for the next buyer down the track. A home with a complete wiring package, one that’s going to be sufficient to cope with modern devices, will be seen much more favourably to other buyers.

There are a range of amazing items you can install in your home, but most of them will require the correct wiring.

Leviton Humidity Sensor

A photo posted by Leviton (@leviton) on

Leviton products are brilliant for maintaining a healthy home environment. The Humidity Sensor actively monitors the level of moisture in the air and activates a fan or dehumidifier when required.

This is a particularly nifty gadget for the bathrooms or laundry, where mould and mildew can grow without you even realising.

Stack Downlights

A photo posted by Stack (@stacklighting) on

Energy-efficient bulbs should be the norm in most homes now, but go one step further with the Stack Downlight. This can be controlled remotely from an app on your phone, and automatically mimics your daily life – even when you aren’t home. If you normally go to bed at 10 p.m. through the week and 12 a.m. at the weekends, it will automatically turn off when it thinks you’ve turned in for the night. If it still senses movement, it will stay on.

Stack technology also makes the most of natural light – using a sensor to read how bright the sunshine is and adapting the brightness to a reasonable level. Without needing a dimmer, this can help to save on energy costs, as the light may not be using as much during the day when it’s turned on.

Nubryte All-in-one Home Management System

A photo posted by NuBryte Smart Home (@nubryte) on

This central hub from Nubryte is a fantastic way to keep tabs on the entire household from one location.

One screen in a central location can act as a calendar, intercom, weather forecast, energy saver, light dimmer and security hub. Regular reports about the power usage in your home can help to keep costs down as you learn where you could be wasting energy. The security system is also intelligent, allowing you to view security video of your home, wherever you need cameras. If someone is at the door, then without leaving the kitchen, you can check who it is (perfect for avoiding an annoying neighbour!).

August Smart Lock

This is one device that doesn’t require hard-wiring into the home, but runs on batteries. It replaces the interior lock on your front door, and can be monitored through an app on your phone.

The August Smart Lock can be opened and closed remotely, to allow cleaners or tradespeople in without you needing to give them a key. It can also be used for guests staying the night, as you don’t have to wait up for them, nor do you need to cut a new key!

It can even be wired to open and close based on your proximity. When you approach the door with shopping bags or gym gear in hand, you don’t have to put it all down to unlock the door. And going out in a hurry is made more secure, because if you forget to lock it, it will do so automatically. Even if you don’t set up proximity locking, you can still do it remotely, so you’ll have peace of mind on your outing.

Samsung Family Hub Fridge

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One of the most advanced fridges ever designed, the Smart Hub features one central, WiFi-enabled screen that has more functions than you’ll know what to do with.

Every time you open and close this fridge, it takes photos from three cameras, and sends them to the cloud. You can access these on your phone, so when you’re out shopping, you know exactly what you have at home, and what you need to get.

On the screen, you can also leave notes for people in your home as reminders, or just because you want to tell them that you love them! It’s the perfect fridge for a family, and can even play your favourite music.

It needs modern wiring to function, however, like most of the items listed above. If you buy a home that only has old wiring, and want to install some of these devices, then the first thing you’ll need to invest in is an electrician.

The modern facade

A modern home isn’t complete without a facelift. When you walk up to the property, it should be screaming to you that it’s at least from this century, if not this decade. Over the last few years, design principles have evolved drastically, and renovating an old home to include them might be more expensive than you first think.

Don’t be afraid of the dark

If you’re really stuck for a colour choice that suits you, it might be worth considering a different option – black.

A photo posted by @myluxuryfeed on

It sounds demure, like it’ll make your home look like something from Gothic times, but there’s very good reason for choosing a black facade.

Without colours, the design of your home will be highlighted, because the eye isn’t drawn to the bright and bold greens or reds that so many people are using on their own facades now. This is a perfect option for people with architecturally designed homes because it will make the interesting points of your home obvious as soon as it’s looked at.

A dark exterior can also contrast really well with a bright interior. If you have a lot of windows, or bright marble floors, then light will shine even more brightly on these features.

Install a new letterbox

When we say “install a new letterbox”, we don’t mean go down to the local hardware store and pick up a new plastic one that you can dig into the ground.

What we really mean is ditch the old, worn-out one that looks like it’s from the 1980s, and create a feature with your letterbox. It might be something as simple as a concrete box with a slot in the front, or one built into a sliding gate or a stone fence.

When designing your new letterbox, think of a cool way to make it interesting. One great option is to carve out the street number of your home. If you install a black board behind it, the numbers will be visible during the day, but for the night, you’ll need to include a backlight. This can be a stunning addition to the facade, and it’s so simple.

You can get rid of those tired old numbers on your front door, too.

Light it up

Aside from installing a light in your letterbox, there are plenty of other ways that lighting can change the entire feel of your facade.

If you have some fabulous trees in your garden, like a Japanese Maple, then show them off with a light shining upward through the branches. Over a fence, this can look amazing, and the pinks and purples in the tree add another dimension to your home.

If your home has a name, then add a light to that as well. It might be a simple metal stencil sign, but at night, this can look really cool from the street. Another great way to add lights to your facade is on the path up to the front door. You might have landscaped in a clever way so that it’s like walking up the garden path – why not show this off?

It might be just a few lights here and there, and they could mostly shine through the plants, but it will also be a useful addition to show where the path goes, and if there are any steps in the way.

Lighting is such a simple feature, but it’s so often overlooked. While the electrician is there re-wiring your home, get them to install the exterior lights as well!

Give yourself a grand entrance

All of your good work in the front of your property can be undone by a worn-out and boring front door. It can be tough to change the height of this feature in an existing home, so your options might be limited.

If you do have the luxury of having a very tall front door, then use as much space as possible! A tall front door doesn’t have to be heavy, so don’t be afraid of that. You can even install hydraulic hinges that assist you when you push or pull the door if it is a concern.

A photo posted by @myluxuryfeed on

A tall front door looks grand, and the right sort of wood can be really inviting, rather than looming large and being frightening. Again, the goal isn’t to turn your home into Count Dracula’s mansion!

On the other hand, a shorter front door can be just as stylish. A contrasting colour to the exterior paint looks great here, as do windows within the door itself. To go for a really great look, a seamless front door might work for your aesthetic, although these can look a little confusing to people who haven’t been to your home before.

Add something that excites you

No matter the scale of your renovations, you should be putting your own needs and wants first. This will probably include having something brilliant at the front of your home, like a water feature, or an external piece of art. If you go down the artwork route, it might be worth installing glass all around your front door and hanging a colourful or striking piece inside, so it doesn’t get damaged by the elements. You’ll still get the effect of the art from outside, it’ll just last longer.

If you go through months of renovating the front of your home just to be left with a space that doesn’t make you happy every time you walk or drive onto your property, then you haven’t done it right.

Take a few more weeks to carefully plan what the home will look like, and invest in some time with designers and landscapers who can help you to bring your dreams to life. That way, you can be sure that you’ll love the finished product.

Four to the floor

Linoleum floors and old bathroom or laundry tiles are practical, but not exactly modern and exciting. Even old timber can be updated to look special, but if you’ve got something dated under your feet, it might be worth ripping it all up and starting again.

Don’t be too quick to get rid of the hardwood flooring in your new home, because a quick sand and polish can bring it totally back to life. It’s also a unique selling point to have the original floors in a home. What’s more, if you rip up the tiles and linoleum that are just sucking the energy out of a space, you might find a perfectly good slab of concrete underneath.

Polished concrete is a modern touch of genius. It’s taking an industrial material that’s vital to the construction of your home, and making a feature out of it. It’s hard-wearing, doesn’t show the dirt too much and can easily be rejuvenated if it starts to look a bit tired after a few years of wear.

Even if you don’t have a concrete slab, many houses have strong enough foundations that you can pour your own. If you decide to do this, it’s also possible to include underfloor heating and cooling systems. For hot summer days and harsh winter nights, this will be something you’re very thankful for.

Don’t discount the value of carpet, though. In bedrooms and home theatres, for example, carpet is the perfect flooring option. It’s soft, easy to clean (or vacuum) and feels cosy underfoot. That’s exactly what you want in a bedroom or place you’ll curl up in front of a movie. Pick a colour that works for your interior palette, a luxurious softness, and you’ll never be sorry you installed carpet.

Where do you spend the most time?

One of your biggest considerations when renovating should be where you spend the most of your time. Many people use the kitchen the most, so need a modern paradise in that space. For others, the bedroom is the most important part of a home, and so making it as relaxing as possible is at the top of the list. Still, others constantly work from home, so need the most comfortable office or study.

Weigh up what rooms you spend the most time in, and you’ll likely have a good picture of where to focus your renovation attention. also outlines how much money should be set aside in your budget for each specific room. A medium-sized kitchen can cost up to $16,000 to fully renovate, but if you want premium accessories, stretch that budget out a little more.

A 12-square-metre bedroom can cost up to $24,000 to renovate, or add, if you’re expanding. Even new flooring will cost a significant amount, up to around $100 per square metre, depending on the material. Finding luxury marble at that price might be a tough task!

If you decide to go down the kitchen route, make sure to keep it open-plan, use stone for benches and get a dishwasher (or two). That has become one of the most necessary parts of the family home, and if you’ve got the space, then you should use it wisely.

Kitchens should be functional. If they aren’t, it’ll add a significant amount onto the time you already spend in the room, but it won’t be enjoyable. It’ll be finding space to put your hot pan down without burning the non-stone benches, or constantly having to stop washing dishes to dry what’s already in the rack so you can make room for all of the other dishes, because you didn’t install a dishwasher. It seems like something that won’t be as important as what colour to paint your home, but even including the simplest appliance in your new kitchen could make all the difference.

How to start your journey

Before you start running wild with ideas of ripping up your floors, you should consider if your current home is the ideal place to renovate.

If it isn’t then you’ll need to move, and a buyer’s agent from Cohen Handler can help you. When you put forward your requirements for a new home, the property specialist will make every effort to find the perfect place for you – even if it’s a home you want to renovate.

If it’s a complete wiring package you’re looking for, a big front yard that can be brought back to life or even somewhere with a worn-out floor that can be totally rejuvenated, a buyer’s agent can help you.

Buying a home, and renovating it, can be a very emotional journey. You don’t want to dive in without sound advice and find yourself somewhere not fit for the kind of alterations you want to make.

You’ve probably got a range of ideas spinning around inside your head, and some of them will be inspiring you to start renovating over the weekend! To start your journey toward a modern, renovated home, get in touch with Cohen Handler today.

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