Budget Design Home Improvements

Budget-friendly home improvement ideas

A color palette

Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic is still going strong. This means staying home all the time. But, this also means that you are saving money you would otherwise spend on traveling, eating out, hobbies, etc. So, why not use that money to improve the state and the look of your home? Renovating and redecorating the interior and exterior of your home can be a great little project that will help you pass the time. More importantly, it can help you increase the general value of your home (if you decide to sell it in one day). And, the best part is that many home renovations are simple and cheap; you just have to be creative. We are here to help you out with that! So, without further ado, here are some budget-friendly home improvement ideas that you can do this weekend. 

Give Your Walls a Fresh Coat of Paint 

It is simple – if you want to add value to your home and completely transform it, you should start by giving your walls a fresh coat of paint. This is one of those budget-friendly home improvement ideas that you can do in just a couple of days, and you can do it all by yourself. So, pick a color you like, gather your painting supplies, put some music on, and get started. 

We strongly advise you not to go overboard with colors. Choose something neutral (white, beige, gray, etc.) or pastel (yellow, baby blue, or pink, etc.) for the majority of your home, and keep the darker colors for smaller accent walls. Of course, be sure that everything matches your new walls – floors, furniture, decorations, etc. If you feel uninspired, check Pinterest or some home décor magazines – they will undoubtedly give you some creative ideas.

A couple painting their home

Caption: You do not need professional painters; painting is something you can do all by yourself.

Refresh Your Floors 

Do not stop with your walls – give your floors a fresh coat of paint too! This is a relatively cheap way of upgrading the look of your entire home, yet, many people don’t even consider it. Just like there are paint variations for your walls or your furniture, for example, there are options for your floors too! So, again, choose the color you like, the one that matches the ‘vibe’ of your home, and start painting.

However, keep in mind that this project will require some time. Painting the floors and letting them dry completely can last from five to ten days. Moreover, you will have to take all of your household items somewhere else – to your garage, basement, attic, or storage unit. If you opt for a storage unit, be careful as there may be some things that you won’t be able to store. Thus, before making your decision, do a little bit of research first and take your non-storable items elsewhere.

Add a Backsplash in Your Kitchen 

If your kitchen needs some love, adding a nice-looking backsplash is the way to go. This will add value to your kitchen without breaking the bank, and it will completely transform it too. Basically, you can do this project in two different ways. The more complicated but nicer-looking way is to use tiles. But, to create a backsplash this way, you must be handy with tiles and glue. If you are not, do not worry, there is a simpler (and a cheaper) solution. You can use an inexpensive material made from a single sheet. All you have to do with this one is cut it to fit your kitchen and glue it with the glue that usually comes in the package. This will not only make your kitchen look brand new but will also protect your walls from splashes, splatters, and all the grease coming from frying pans and pots. 

A kitchen

Caption: Adding a backsplash is not as complicated as it used to be in the past.

Let There Be Light 

There is something so beautiful and peaceful about well-lit homes. Proper lights set the mood and the atmosphere in the entire house. Thus, you should give this project some thought! If your home looks a bit dull, maybe all you need to do is layer lighting. Start by taking advantage of natural light. Remove those heavy window shades and dark curtains. Let the light in! If you still want some curtains (for privacy), consider lighter ones. Then, think about the lighting fixtures in your home. If your budget allows it, change all of them. If not, change just the ones that are in the rooms you spend the most time in. Moreover, you do not have to spend a fortune on a chandelier or a floor lamp – you can find cheap and unique lighting fixtures in thrift shops, flea markets, antique stores, and garage sales.

A living room

Caption: Proper usage of lighting can change the look and the feel of your entire home.

Refinish all the Wooden Pieces 

Last on our list of budget-friendly home improvement ideas you should try is refinishing all the wooden pieces you have in your home. These can be your furniture, doors, windows, or even that wooden fence on your deck or balcony. To refinish these, all you need is a spatula for scraping, sanding paper, and a refinishing oil or paint in the color of your liking. This is neither a complex DIY project nor an expensive one but is a project that requires your time and energy. Moreover, it requires some space, preferably outside, where you can sand and paint without worrying about all the mess. Give it a go – the end results will be amazing! But, remember, if you have never done this before, it might be a good idea to watch a couple of YouTube tutorials first. Educate yourself properly, and you will soon become a refinishing expert. 

By Mary Aspen Richardson


Buying a Home in New Zealand: A Guide for Foreigners

Homes in New Zealand, housing in a coastal townIf you’ve watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy, you’ve probably considered moving to New Zealand. This beautiful island country truly has some jaw-dropping landscapes that make hiking a pure joy. And if you are considering relocating to New Zealand, we can only assume that you are also considering buying a home here. With this in mind, we’ve written a comprehensive guide for buying a home in New Zealand.

Housing marketing in New Zealand

Before we get into specifics of home purchase, you must understand the current housing market in New Zealand. Namely, more and more people have decided that buying a home in New Zealand is a good idea in the past decade. This increased property value would’ve continued to do so if the New Zealand government hadn’t stepped in. Today, in order to buy property in New Zealand as a foreigner, there are some difficulties that you need to overcome.

Buying a home in New Zealand may not be an option for you.

Homes in New Zealand

Buying property as a foreigner

Depending on where you are coming from and your reason for buying real estate, you might experience different restrictions. For instance, people in Australia require little to no permissions to purchase a property. But, if you come from the US or UK, you may find purchase restrictions that outright ban you from buying a particular type of property. We suggest that you visit the New Zealand government website and use their tool to find out more. Through it, you will get a good idea of what you can buy and what permits you might require.

Finding a home to buy

If you are eligible to purchase a home in New Zealand, you’ll find that it is a pretty straightforward endeavor. The benefit of such high regulations of the real estate market is that you can easily find information and experience ample protection from fraud. By simply going online, you can get accurate data on housing prices and purchase options. Keep in mind that the area where you buy a home can be a significant factor in how expensive it is. For instance, the median price of a home in Auckland is NZ$850,000. Meanwhile, the median price of a home in Whanganui is NZ$330,000. The housing cost usually reflects job availability and general living costs. So, before you make your decision, try to first consider your budget and see which area suits you best.

Finding a good realtor

While you can, theoretically, try to find a home of your own accord, we strongly suggest that you find a good realtor. Even though you have easy access to accurate information, there is still no substitute for having your finger on the pulse of local real estate. So, once you feel that you’ve found a suitable area, try to find an experienced local realtor. They will be able to guide your purchase and ensure that you understand what you are getting into.

A real estate agent shaking hands with clients after buying a home in New Zealand.

An experienced realtor will help you navigate the New Zealand real estate market with ease.

Keep in mind that there might be some language barriers to overcome, even if you are from the UK or the US. Notions like:

  • Attached properties.
  • Standalone options.
  • Sections.
  • Zoning permits.

All of these are paraments that can impact your purchase. An experienced realtor will help you understand the local market and ensure that you make the right decision.

Moving to New Zealand

Since you are a foreigner, you are likely wondering when to relocate to New Zealand. On the one hand, it does seem pretty straightforward to relocate after you’ve bought a home. On the other, finding a suitable home might be easier if you are physically present in the area. So, what is the smart call?

When should you relocate?

If you’ve never been to New Zealand before, we strongly suggest visiting it before buying property. While it may look beautiful on videos and pictures, know that New Zealand is no fairytale land. Just like any country, it has its culture, with various pros and cons. And if you find them unsuitable, you better be renting out a place there and not be stuck with a purchased home. Ideally, you will spend at least a couple of months living in New Zealand before making your purchase. Only if you have visited it before and have a good idea of what living here is like should you opt to buy a home online.

Finding the right movers

Moving to New Zealand is best done by having capable movers by your side. While you may be able to tackle a local move, you shouldn’t even consider attempting a DIY international relocation. The only way to ensure that both you and your items remain safe is to have experienced professionals by your side from the get-go.

Moving to New Zealand

It is simply not possible to tackle an international move without professional help.

Fortunately, finding international movers is easier than ever. It is customary to either hire movers from your current area or from the area where you plan on moving. Therefore, if you want to have an easy relocation from the US, either go for US movers or New Zealand ones. In either case, you should avoid trying to cut too many costs. International relocation is complicated, so you should accept that it is going to be costly. Ideally, you will hire cost-effective movers that will reduce the cost of moving while ensuring overall safety.

What to keep in mind

As we have mentioned before, buying a home in New Zealand can be surprisingly straightforward. But you must do the necessary research and go through the proper channels. Once you make sure that you are eligible and have the necessary funds, you can hire a realtor. With them by your side, you should find a suitable New Zealand home to move into. When it comes to international movers, try to hire them as soon as possible. Not only can they help you prepare appropriately for your relocation, but the cost of their service can vary drastically based on the timing of your relocation.

By Mary Aspen Richardson


How to Design Safe Bathrooms for the Elderly

a simple, bright bathroom design, perfect for the elderly

The main reason why older adults leave their homes is that it becomes impractical and uncomfortable for them. Tasks that were once a routine become risky and challenging things to do as we get older. Probably the most problematic room in the house becomes the bathroom. Slippery floors, tiles everywhere, and a dangerous shower/bathtub make the simple tasks very unsafe. And as we buy homes to make a lifetime commitment, it is challenging to leave it after such a long time and go live somewhere else. Luckily, you don’t have to do it. Adapting your bathroom to be a much safer place in just a few steps is possible. We prepared some tips on how to design safe bathrooms for the elderly. Hopefully, they will help designers understand the needs of older people and make it easier for their families to provide them a safe home.

Start with making the bathroom accessible

The first thing to do is make sure older people in the house can access the bathroom with ease. This means that the doors should be 80cm wide – at least. It will make it easier for those in a wheelchair or with a walker to enter the bathroom. Next, think about the doorknobs. They are usually difficult to grab, which is why lever handles are a better option – not only for your bathroom doors but all around the house. They provide a better grip and minimize the risk of the hand slipping away from it and making the person fall back. Generally, doors should be light and easy to open. Finally, consider getting a sliding door – sliding is a much simpler and safer solution and doesn’t take a lot of space.

Make enough space

If the person needs a wheelchair, it is essential to think about the space necessary to access different areas and function in them. There should be enough space for the person to turn around the wheelchair – at least 150 cm. Also, additional space underneath the sink is necessary so the wheelchair can come close enough and the person can use the sink without any troubles.

Bathroom floors that minimize the risks of falls and injuries slippery floor warning

Slippery floors are the biggest threat for those who have seeing issues or trouble walking. Therefore, to design safe bathrooms for the elderly, be sure to use tiles that have textured surfaces. They are much safer than the smooth ones as they don’t make the floor that slippery. Furthermore, try to avoid rugs that wrinkle easily, creating a tripping obstacle. Use rubbery mats instead, as they will not move due to the friction between them and the floor.

Slippery bathroom tiles are a common cause of injury.

Taking a shower – the safest way

One of the significant steps in creating or renovating a bathroom should be removing the bath and building a walk-in shower. It’s a much safer option for older people as they don’t need to lift their legs and go inside a tub. Walk-in showers are great even for those who have trouble walking, so be sure to create one with zero thresholds.

Walk-in showers are the safest option – be sure to add a seat to make showers more comfortable and easier. alt.tag: an example of how to design safe bathrooms for the elderly

an example of how to design safe bathrooms for the elderly

Shower handrails

Don’t forget one more important detail – safety handrails or grab bars. Place them on each side of the shower space, so people can hold onto them on their way in and out and prevent slipping accidents.

Shower floors

When it comes to the shower floors, it is essential to add a shower mat that will make the floors less slippery. There are other solutions you can try – anti-slip formula for tiles and adhesive threads. However, mats are a widely used and inexpensive option.

Shower seat

Another great addition to the shower would be a built-in seat. It is much easier for the elderly to take a shower in the sitting position, so they can take their time without getting tired.

A safe toilet

Sitting down and getting up is a difficulty for many seniors. Thankfully, it’s possible to simplify this process when you design safe bathrooms for the elderly. Just place the toilet slightlyA white bathroom with easy toilet access higher than usual. Also, don’t forget the handrails on both sides of the toilet. And finally, secure it both to the floor and the wall for maximum safety.

Remember: grab bars need to sustain a lot of weight, so they must be strong enough for such pressure. Avoid using classic towel racks at any cost, as this can be very risky. Use bars made of steps to support the person using them, and provide the highest security.

Declutter and organize the space

To make the bathroom practical and easy to use, simple organization methods can help you out. Ensure there’s no clutter around and that all the items such as cosmetics are placed on dedicated shelves. Remove any unnecessary items that might block the way and rugs that can be a potential tripping hazard. Also, make sure you create some easily accessible storage space for all the bits a person in their bathroom needs. These shelves or cabinets should be within reach, so there’s no need to stretch a lot or climb a stool to get something.

Remember: these senior-friendly home improvements are not only practical for your bathroom but also when you need to get your entire home ready and adapted for a senior. Organized space with practical storage solutions will make the space cleaner and simplify the daily tasks of older adults living in the house.

Invest in an accident alarm

When you design safe bathrooms for the elderly, you also need to think about the possibility of something happening. Accidents can happen even with all precautionary measures. And if they do, it is important to react as soon as possible, so investing in an alarm system can be a great option. These systems allow the person inside the bathroom to press a button and contact someone outside. These buttons should be in a place where a person can reach them, especially if they fall on the floor. Even though we’re sure our tips will make the bathroom space as secure as possible, it’s always good to think about the ‘if’ scenarios.

By Mary Aspen Richardson


How to Build a Home Gym on a Budget

How to Build a Home Gym on a Budget Everybody knows how important physical activity is. It’s excellent for our health – both physical and mental. And staying strong and healthy during the past year was extremely important because of the whole Coronavirus situation. Since everything was closed, many people started working out at home. […]

Why People Invest in Real Estate

Why People Invest in Real Estate

In today’s world, there are all sorts of great places to invest your money. From finance schemes to shares to cryptocurrencies, modern investing knows no bounds. With so many ways and places to invest, you may be wondering why so many people continue to choose real estate.

Here’s why people continue to choose real estate as their top investing choice.

Predictable Cash Flow Read more

6 Tips for Designing a Smart Kitchen

6 Tips for Designing a Smart Kitchen

A kitchen is the heart of a home. It’s where you start your day by grabbing a morning coffee and a quick bite before heading to work. It welcomes you after a hard day with a refreshing beverage and a savory meal. And, if you love cooking, it’s where you spend hours of fun, too. However, you can make it even better without wasting a ton of money on heavy remodeling. Instead, you can use technology to improve virtually every aspect of it. With almost no effort, you can add value to your kitchen, both in terms of functionality and selling. And when you see how easy designing a smart kitchen is, you’ll realize it’s the smartest option of all.

Why go smart?

As an essential part of every household, a kitchen must provide comfort, convenience, and, above all, functionality. Designing a smart kitchen allows you to achieve that on a much greater level compared to a standard remodel. Yet, the benefits don’t stop there. A smart design equals high-value home renovation that improves two other significant factors:

  1. Sustainability;
  2. Resale value.


A smart kitchen wastes fewer resources than a standard one. You can fine-tune its functionality and make it spend less electricity and water. In turn, this allows you to lower your utility bills. So, in the long run, turning your kitchen smart will pay for itself.

A person holding $100 banknotes.

Turning your kitchen smart can help you save money in the long run.

Resale value

Are you planning to sell your home and move in the foreseeable future? If so, upgrading your kitchen to a smart variant is one of the best things you can do. Handling a move and selling a house at the same time are a pain. That’s why most people want to rush through both. However, this leaves them vulnerable. On one end, they don’t pay much attention to moving. Thus, they risk missing hidden moving costs and overpaying. On the other, they don’t focus on getting the best price for their home. The smart design lets you avoid being one of those people. It enables you to sell your house faster, leaving you free to focus on moving. This will ensure you avoid spending more than you planned, which isn’t insignificant considering how moving can be very costly.

Tip 1: A smart layout makes a smart kitchen

The first thing you should focus on when modernizing your kitchen is optimizing the layout. Although appliances are the actual smart parts of it, it’s the layout that gives your kitchen functionality. Once you set up the basics, it’s easy to improve the rest and add more features.

With that said, to do this, first, you must understand the basics of kitchen design. These are:

  • The five areas of the kitchen, and;
  • The kitchen work triangle.

The five areas and why should you take the time to set them up

You can split your kitchen into five distinct zones, each serving a specific purpose. These are:

  1. Food storage;
  2. Food preparation;
  3. Pots and pans;
  4. Cleaning and waste;
  5. Dishes and cutlery.

When designing a smart kitchen, it’s essential to clearly define these areas. Doing this will help you stay organized, thus increasing convenience and efficiency.

The importance of the Triangle

The kitchen triangle refers to the space between the stove, fridge, and sink. It’s crucial to design your kitchen so that this area is always clear. This will allow you to work without obstructions and without the need to pace from one end of the kitchen to another. Or, in short: it will increase your efficiency and save time.

Tip 2: Enlist the help of smart people to help you with designing a smart kitchen.

Previously, designing a kitchen involved an architect drawing a plan, conversing with the client, and then making changes. Today, however – this is a complete waste of time. The advancement of technology and 3D design made the above method obsolete. And this is perfect for you! Now, the majority of contractors include this as a part of their remodeling service.

A person with a VR headset in front of a laptop.3D modeling allows you to see how your finished kitchen will look.

They will make a 3D model of your kitchen and all the furniture and appliances in it. Then, you can move and shift things around without ever moving a muscle (clicking doesn’t count!). But, the best thing of all is, you can see how your kitchen will look once it’s finished. You can fine-tune colors, patterns, and even lighting – all from the comfort of your chair. And, once you’re satisfied, it won’t take more than a few minutes for your contractor to print out the floor plan and start organizing the work. Therefore, this is an efficient, effective, and fun way to design your kitchen without wasting paper or time. But, above all, it’s the smart way!

Tip 3: Don’t rush when choosing smart items for your kitchen

Before you start dishing out money on smart appliances, it’s advisable to research them in-depth. Although the market abounds with options, smart technology in home improvement still hasn’t reached its peak. Now, we’re not saying that smart appliances don’t do their job. They do – and exceptionally well, at that. However, the communication between various devices can get a bit finicky at times. Therefore, the main thing you need to watch out for here is compatibility. Some devices work well with one another, while others simply refuse to cooperate. So, take some time to do the research and read the reviews, and you’ll end up with a kitchen that makes your life a breeze.

Tip 4: Focus on major investments first

Smart appliances cost a bit more than their regular counterparts. Which doesn’t come as a surprise since they make life so much easier. Therefore, it’s essential to prioritize your investments. That said, the two smartest things you can get for your kitchen are:

  • A smart fridge;
  • A smart oven/stove.

Both provide fantastic functionality and so many additional features that you’ll wonder how you managed to live without them. Here’s a fun example:

There are smart fridges that can – check this out – find you a date! We’re not even joking! Some smart fridges can take a snapshot of their contents and match you with people with similar groceries in their fridges. The wondrous times we live in!

Tip 5: Top it off with things that make life easier

With big things secured, you can proceed to pamper yourself. There’s a whole myriad of smaller appliances you can get to enhance your lifestyle. Here are some of them and a fraction of what they can do:

  • Coffee machine – set it to “wake up” before you, and have a fresh coffee waiting for the second you get in the kitchen;
  • Faucets – tell them (yes, tell them) to turn on and off, or to dispense a certain amount of water;
  • Kitchen lighting – program the lights to switch on or off on command, or set the intensity depending on the time of the day;
  • Kitchen respirators – never again will you cough and “wave your hands through the air like you don’t care” while cooking. Your smart stove can tell the respirator to start working the moment you start cooking.

Sounds pretty amazing, doesn’t it? That’s because it is! And this is only a tiny part of what these things can do.

A modern black and white kitchen.Smart kitchens aren’t only comfortable. They look awesome, too!

Tip 6: Choose the right people to “smartify” your kitchen

Designing a smart kitchen is a pretty straightforward process. However, implementing changes can be a daunting task. That’s why you should leave this part to the professionals. With ample experience, knowledge, and the right tools, they’ll make sure your kitchen gets the IQ boost it needs.

Make the smart choice

Designing a smart kitchen is one of the best choices you can make. It allows you to skyrocket your comfort level without sacrificing convenience or functionality. Quite the contrary – it improves all those aspects. And – without having to break your home apart to do it. So, when choosing your approach, don’t think large. Think smart.

By Mary Aspen Richardson


Buying a fixer-upper tips for first-time homebuyers

Buying a fixer-upper tips for first-time homebuyers

a fixer-upper home in the middle of renovationsBeing a first-time homebuyer, your budget might not allow you to purchase a property that is ready for you to move in immediately. In fact, some estimates note that around 70% of people aged from 18 to 34 plan on buying a fixer-upper. Luckily, it’s possible to improve and add value to your home with improvements. We have a few tips you should keep in mind if you are a first-time homebuyer looking to buy a home in need of major repairs or remodeling.

Buying a fixer-upper means you can potentially buy a larger home in a better location. However, you need to assess the situation realistically. At times, the low price of the home may sway you to think you are at an advantage. Yet, the cost of repairing a fixer-upper may turn out to be much more than what you anticipated. Sometimes, such homes are not financially rewarding at all, so keep your eyes open when you start browsing through property listings.

an old home with wooden windows

Old homes usually have poor insulation, which might necessitate elaborate construction work.

Consider the time you have at your disposal

It probably won’t take much time until you find a fixer-upper. However, the construction work needed to transform the property might take a lot of time. In fact, this is one of the reasons why you need to be adamant about choosing a good real estate agent. As a first-time homebuyer, you probably do not have that much experience with home renovations and how long they may take.

An experienced real estate agent will be able to give you realistic advice on what home you should buy based on the condition of the property and the time you have at your disposal until your move-in. Since you are probably focused on saving money, renting a home while the renovations take place is completely missing the mark. Hence, a real estate agent will know whether the investment pays off – money-wise and time-wise.

Consider your home renovating expertise

Some first-time homebuyers go into buying a fixer-upper with the idea that they will renovate it on their own. In this case, make sure that you definitely consider time as a crucial deciding factor. If you are doing things on your own or with minimal help from professionals, be sure to leave a reasonable amount of time for everything – much more than what you initially thought you might need.

For instance, you might be planning a kitchen remodel to add value without breaking the bank. But what may be in store might entail much more than changing the doorknobs and repainting the cabinets. The property might have an underlying problem with the piping, sewage, wiring, etc.

So, a fixer-upper that may look acceptable on the surface might be a bag full of problems that can considerably delay the renovation project and, consequently, the move-in deadline.

an old home surrounded by vinesFixer-uppers are charming, but sometimes a handful as well.

Organization is everything

So, sometimes buying a fixer-upper may be much more challenging than it seems. In most cases, people have a fixed date when they need to move out of their old home. This is why you need to be organized to a tee.

Devise a plan and stick to it, but also prepare a plan B (and a plan C). Remember, you are giving that fixer-upper a new lease on life. It is unlikely it is going to be completely straightforward or stress-free!

You can execute the main bulk of renovation work before you start bringing in furniture and make more minor repairs, finishes, and improvements after you move in. However, if you decide to renovate the fixer-upper after moving to your new/old home, be sure to estimate the duration and find inspiration for your project well before you sign the purchase contract.

Organizing a major home remodel from scratch is no easy feat. So, don’t fool yourself that you will be able to do so in a few days after you relocate.

an architect drawing out necessary fixer-upper repairs

Find a good contractor or architect that can help you plan the renovation perfectly.

Consider your budget

Budgetary considerations are a crucial aspect of deciding if you should invest in a fixer-upper. As little as half of home renovating projects stay within the planned budget. Hence, here you need to be mercilessly realistic when it comes to your budget.

Keep this in mind while you are in the process of choosing your fixer-upper. Basically, the purchase of the property should not consume your entire homebuying budget.

As you will soon see, fixing a fixer-upper is likely to be a continuous series of expenses. With an old home, you may not even be able to anticipate everything that needs fixing. Some issues pop up unexpectedly, even after you finish the remodel.

One way to go around this is to divide the money you have into two ‘funds’ – one for the purchase of the fixer-upper and a separate one to cover the renovation costs based on estimates you can devise with the help of a home inspector or a licensed contractor.

By allowing two budgets, you are unlikely to overspend on the purchase of the fixer-upper.

Do you have a place to live until the renovations are finished?

Dreaming about adapting a quaint old home to your needs may be one of your main motivations for choosing a fixer-upper instead of a ready-to-move-in home. Other people find it more convenient financially, as they can invest in repairs according to their possibilities.

However, before you start warming up to the idea of buying a fixer-upper, you should consider whether you can finance a rental where you can stay until the home is ready for move-in. So, this is another factor that may move the scales either toward you buying a fixer-upper or purchasing a ready-made home you can relocate to immediately.

By Mary Aspen Richardson


How to Layer Lighting and Make Your Home Shine

Are you feeling dissatisfied with your current home décor, but not sure what needs a change?
Before you swap out the furniture, paint your walls, or upgrade your floors, it’s important to make sure that your current lighting plan is one that complements your home style.

Lighting has the ability to make or break the look and feel of your home. Without the right lighting, focal points, architectural details, unique textures, and even gorgeous colors can get lost.
The key to a good lighting plan is a layered approach that combines four types of light: Ambient, task, accent and decorative lighting. Here’s how to use all four to make your home shine.

How to Turn Your Garage into a Home Office

How to Turn Your Garage into a Home Office

Man planning his garage office

How to Turn Your Garage into a Home Office

At this point, the odds are that your “home office” is really just a kitchen counter or a coffee table. However, with the steady cadence of businesses across the globe adopting and employees welcoming the remote work policies, home offices have become a must. WFH is here for the long haul. This calls for investing some time and money into transforming a makeshift space into a den of focus and creativity. Given they are somewhat set apart from the rest of the household, garages are perfect for home offices. If you have an empty space in your garage, why not use it to carve out a dedicated working space just for you and improve your remote-work experience? Here are some tips on how to turn your garage into a home office.

Alt-text: Car parked in front of a garage

Take your WFH experience to the next level

Clear the decks

It is not uncommon for garage space to turn into a one-size-fits-all dumping ground of a household. They are convenient for storing any number of things – from garden tools, holiday decorations, car accessories to the staple of many garages – miscellaneous nails and screws. If you’re ready to reclaim some space in your garage, it’s time to start clearing out the clutter! Start by figuring out what stays and what goes. Then pack the things you need to hang on neatly away in boxes and find a safe place to temporarily keep them out of the way. Your mission is to empty the entire garage out and then slowly build it back up, piece-by-piece.

It’s typically a weekend’s worth of work to declutter and scrub everything down from top to bottom. Removing motor oil stains, wiping away any mold, cleaning the garage walls and floors will call for special attention. Still, dedication will pay dividends.

Survey the space

Converting your garage into a home office begins with making sure that the space is usable and structurally safe. Once you’ve removed the clutter, take a closer look at the space you have to work with. Is the area large enough to be functional? Will you be using the space for your car as well? Where should the shelves for storage go? What’s the best place to set up the desk? Drawing up some scaled sketches should help you figure out how you plan to use the space and what it could look like with a bit of work.

If it has been a long time since you’ve bought your house, contact an architect or a surveyor to make sure your garage is suitable to convert and structurally sound. The walls, roof, and foundation should be sturdy and safe as much as the next habitable space, even though garages aren’t typically designed to be one. If constructed out of brick or block, your garage should be okay for you to use. It’ll still need an interior fit-out, however. If it is too poorly built, you’ll need to have your walls plaster-boarded and insulated. Lastly, inspect the footings to make sure they’re up to scratch.

Think comfort

Your garage no longer has to be humble. Start planning heating, plumbing, and electrics early, and watch as your outbuilding turns into the perfect business space, one that is comfortable all year round.

  • Electricity. Employ a certified electrician, and explain early on how you intend to use the garage so they can install the adequate number of sockets and light fittings in the right place and with the correct cabling. Consider installing a bigger fuse board if your current one doesn’t have a spare circuit, and it may be a good idea to install an isolator to separate the electric supply of the house from the external supply.
  • HVAC. To keep the space comfortable, add insulation in the garage, and think about installing heating and air conditioning. If your plumber isn’t able to extend your home’s HVAC system, electric wall-mounted heaters can be a great alternative that is relatively cheap to install. A portable air conditioner or a fan can help you adapt easily to warmer temperatures.
  • Water supply. If you plan on getting a hot and cold-water supply into your outbuilding, and installing a toilet, basin, or shower, remember to make provision on time. If you have a boiler in your garage, make sure to include proper carbon monoxide detection and ventilation provision in your to-do list.
  • Insulation. You might also want to rethink your garage door. Consider investing in a well-insulated garage door for reasons of energy efficiency and comfort. An insulated glass garage door can compensate for the lack of natural light in your garage.

Start thinking about utilities early on. You need to feel comfortable in your new home office

Brighten it up

Proper lighting in a home office is a priority, mainly because most garages lack natural light. As always, you need a decent mix of task and ambient lighting. Moreover, with the insulated glass garage door, you can kill two birds with one stone. Actually, it’s more than just two. If you’re looking to elevate the curb appeal and add value to your property, few things could ramp it up like these sleek and stylish all-glass doors.

Add functional storage

Time to start bringing all those boxes in! Yes, with the right storage options, you won’t have any problems using your garage as a catch-all while simultaneously keeping your workplace clutter-free. Deep shelving is perfect for holding tote bins, and you can use vertical space for hanging bicycles as well as pegboards for tool organization.

Shifting to WFH is a significant lifestyle change, one that requires you to adjust your everyday habits. Sure, you can turn your garage into a home office, but you will still need to try extra hard to get your work done at home. Clean and cohesive office space can motivate you and increase your productivity. So, don’t underestimate the benefits of proper storage options and clutter management. For your desk storage, consider purchasing a large open office desk, and then add a drawer cabinet or a filing cabinet to place underneath. Stores offer them in minimal designs that are simple and stylish, so they fit nicely into most home office designs. As for on-desk storage options, you can include classic organizers, wire baskets, and accessories tray for corralling documents and paper clutter.

Beautifully decorated workspace

The right storage options are key for a tidy and clutter-free home office

Style and Aesthetics

Once you have the basics in place and have turned your garage into a more comfortable and functional setting, it’s time to turn your attention to the aesthetics. This is the fun part, ladies and gentlemen, as you get to adjust the interior to fit your style and needs. Start turning those pages of interior design magazines to get your creative juices flowing, but select designs that love and are timeless.

Start with your desk and comfy office chair as the protagonists of your home office. As for the color palette, designers recommend neutral, restorative tones because they keep down any visual clutter, give the office that cool and relaxing vibe, and pair well with anything. Most shades of blue are great for workspaces. A beautiful blue not only promotes focus and productivity but also feels sophisticated and elegant. The final trick is to make it your own. Turn your garage into a home office you will love to spend time in by bringing in your favorite decorative items. Include playful art, family photographs in fun frames, colorful vases, etc.

By Mary Aspen Richardson



Top Ways to Add Value to Your Garden

Top Ways to Add Value to Your Garden

Spring and summer are a popular time to sell your home, but where do you begin? Most people will spruce up their property by decluttering and cleaning their house, but many people don’t realise how much impact their garden can have. Here are some easy ways to help ensure your garden adds value to your property before you put it on the market.

  1. Get the basics right
    The outside of your home is just as important as the inside when it comes to selling your home. An attractive garden can add value to your home while a poorly kept garden will detract from it. Tidying and doing some basic maintenance on your garden is a great way to start. A well maintained lawn will enhance the appearance of your home and complement the rest of your garden. Check if fences and trellises need repairing, trim shrubs and trees, cut back dead growth and clear away any debris remaining from the winter months.
  2. Brighten it up with colour
    Once your garden is shipshape, you’re ready to start turning it into something potential buyers will love. Potted flowering plants are a simple way to add colour to any size garden. Spring and summer are a great time to show your garden off to its full potential to help maximise your selling price.
  3. Focus on first impressions
    If time or budget are an issue, focus on the areas that buyers will notice first. Don’t underestimate the value of street appeal.
    First impressions really do count, so always start with your front garden and entrance area.
  4. Add a point of difference
    Why not add something that sets your property apart from the rest. A well organised garden shed, delightful play area for the children or lovely seating area in the garden can all go down a treat. Remember some features won’t appeal to all buyers, but if they are well presented and cared for, they will add value for the right buyer.
  5. Freshen it up with paint & stain
    If you’re on a tight budget, nothing freshens your property up like a good coat of paint or stain on fences, decks, sheds and other wood in the garden. Adding value to your home through the garden doesn’t have to break the bank.
  6. Take living outdoors
    If you are going to invest, spend your money on good quality patio, paving or decking. It will enhance the overall appearance of your outdoor space and encourage buyers to visualise themselves entertaining or dining alfresco. Good outdoor lighting also adds ambience and makes the space usable during the warmer evenings.
  7. Style your garden with furniture
    You wouldn’t show a room to a potential buyer without any furniture in it, so why show a garden without a table and chairs? The right furniture will help buyers imagine themselves sitting outside enjoying those sunny summer days ahead.
  8. Make it feel secure
    If the people viewing the house have pets or small children, they will want a garden that is fully secured. Investing in secure fencing, walls or gates, can make your property appeal to a wider range of potential buyers.
  9. Keep it private
    If your home is overlooked by other homes or gardens, you may want to add hedges or trees in key locations to provide privacy. Sails or retractable covers will also provide some privacy and have the added benefit of offering protection from the sun. Make sure they are clean and in good working order.