One of the biggest trends in renovating we might be about to see emerge is the mini-makeover.
Think: paints, cupboard handles, tap fittings, wallpapers (yes, wallpapers going up, not coming down) and the polishing of timber floors. Also light fittings and window treatments. Anything that changes the feel and adds a bit of pizzazz without spending the big bucks.
If that sounds like the ’70s revisited, perhaps it is. Hopefully not with such garish results, though. And yes, if you are thinking, ‘hang on, hasn’t everyone been doing this all along?’ In part you are right. But the difference is the mini-makeover will be used by householders to make do for much longer than in recent years.
Why will we see this replace bigger aspirations – at least for now? It’s a meeting of several forces. First, the property market isn’t going anywhere in a hurry at the moment, so the belief that you can do a big reno and flip the property to make a good quid is quickly dissolving. Second, Australians are saving more than we have in years and there’s a propensity to pay down debt. That means making do with what we have and not taking on huge loans to expand our lifestyles. More broadly, employers continue to report that the biggest thing employees are chasing isn’t dollars but work-life balance. Money is still important, yes, but there’s a greater focus on living a life outside of the office, and people aren’t jumping ship for an extra $5,000 or $10,000 like they were a few years ago.
So if they are working less and aren’t prepared to move for a bit more cash, it’s a fairly reasonable conclusion that people will be looking to make their dollar stretch further by extending the life of their current home.
There’s times in life when you wonder whether you have been living under a rock. Like a few weeks ago when a friend mentioned to me that she wanted to buy a robot to clean the floor. A what? Do these things actually work? I had vague recollections of seeing something that looked cheap and nasty on the TV that gave off the impression it might last about as long as a McDonald’s Happy Meal toy, and be about as useful.
But anything that breaks the daily grind of washing, sweeping/vacuuming and doing the dishes is welcome. And as it turns out, robotic floor cleaners have come a long way in recent years. After doing some research online, I found out there’s a few leading brands that have decent warranties and a good reputation among forums on the web.
Sure, they may cost a little, but with the floor clean, your house will look a lot nicer (and bigger) 24/7.
If there’s truth to the talk that the new trend is for three-bedroom, two-bathroom houses, there’s going to be one thing happening for families, and that is lots more kids sharing bedrooms. Personally I’m all for it. Where else do you learn to fight (I mean negotiate) so well?
I shared a bedroom with my older brother until I was a teenager, and my parents were renting a house while building their own. I’m not sure if that was a good or bad thing. Good company? Yes. But her taste in posters was appalling. Jokes aside, there are dilemmas. If you have kids of different genders, when is it appropriate for them to share until? When do you say, ok, time to have your separate rooms, if they haven’t asked yet?
And there’s also another, unexpected, problem Mum and Dad encountered. The dreaded decoration drama. If you think it’s hard choosing between Imperial White and Egg Shell White, try sorting out a kids’ room. I know it sounds trivial against the greater world backdrop of natural disasters, financial meltdowns and overseas conflicts, but when you have a boy and a girl sharing and you want to create a space that they love (and more importantly, that you can convince them they should sleep in, all night), what do you go with?
Despite all this chatter about new-age men and metrosexual teens, when it comes to little boys, things still seem pretty black and white. Pink is yuck, gross, disgusting and only for girls. So, really, not much has changed at all. Animals, planes, trains and automobiles didn’t cut it.
Things have come a long way in the decorating stakes in recent years with the arrival of removable wall decals, those clever vinyl stickers that really can be repositioned. For less than $100 you can overhaul the look of a room without something as permanent as those awful stuck-on borders that permeated the bedrooms of the kids of design-conscious parents 20 years ago.
A good solution was reached: to opt for a universally popular theme. Superheroes, with bold primary colours and a cityscape on the wall with a life-size Superman decal flying through the air, ready to rescue a damsel in distress. But that is where the doubts began.
People worry about the violence associated with superheroes (for example, they are banned at some child care centres). And personally I prefer the retro idols such as Superman to more modern equivalents like Ben 10 because I perceive them to be less violent, even though it’s hard not to notice the 1978 Superman movie has drinking, mild swearing and plenty of sexual overtones.
But my parents were concerned with what sort of messages it sends to a little girl to be surrounded by superheroes that are all blokes? So, the search begins for some female crime fighters to add the mix and even up the gender imbalance. And sadly there are a few superheroes that are girls, but not nearly enough.
Wonder Woman seems a good solution, but then there’s a problem. Is she really a great role model or simply an object of sexual desire that compounds the raft of wrong messages that littlies are already bombarded with? Like bra tops for toddlers. In the real world women can be both sexy and smart, for sure, but perhaps that’s a bit advanced for a two year old girl.
Trawl the blogosphere and opinions seem mixed as to Wonder Woman’s status, particularly given she originally had to perform acts of daring in her undies. And plenty of posters have Wonder Woman intentionally looking more dominatrix than crime fighter.
In the end we ended up with one Wonder Woman (the non-dominatrix version, harder to find than you would think) and one Superman. So while it might not all be equal in the comic world of crime fighting, it was, at least, in our house.
After the number of bedrooms, buyers are most interested in the size. Use neutral colours to make your bedrooms seem larger and reduce the amount of furniture to maximise the feeling of space. Be clever with the space you have. If you have a small bedroom use a double bed instead of a queen, or bunks in a children’s room.
You can never have enough storage in a bedroom. To reduce the demands on limited space in small bedrooms, consider having built-in robes installed, but keep the interior simple.
Buyers want a bedroom where they can escape to. You can make your bedroom a sanctuary by adding a little luxury with fresh linen, puffed up pillows and extra cushions, a comfy chair and a few special features, like candles and perfume bottles.
Bedroom lighting is really important in creating atmosphere. To give a romantic feel, consider adding dimmer switches and bedside lamps. If you are having evening viewings, quality lighting is crucial.
However large your bedrooms are, they will look small if they are cluttered with personal items. When it comes time to sell make sure you clear away the clutter. That doesn’t mean your rooms need to look totally impersonal, simple displays, flowers or candles can make the room feel like home for potential buyers.