Vellum Interiors | Full-service interior design & styling studio in Sydney • Residential • Design & Decoration


Questions to ask yourself before renovating

In this post, I want to share a couple of important questions to ask yourself before spending money updating your home. I often have clients who know they want to re-do some things — either renovation works or some new furniture — but have no idea what it will cost. This is completely fine with me, as it’s something I can help with, and also something I can relate to. When I was re-doing my website and branding, for example, I had no clue what it would cost! I relied on researching, talking to colleagues with similar businesses and with professionals to figure this out, then determining what I could afford to do now. I take a similar approach when advising clients on a budget for their interiors projects. 


The one question I find that helps to narrow down the budget conversation is — how long are you going to live in this house for?


Especially in Sydney, many people aren’t buying a “forever home” for their family, but one that will help them get a little further up that real estate ladder. The decision to stay and renovate or sell and buy something better is something I find many homeowners grappling with on a regular basis. 


If you’re only looking to stay in your home for the next 3-5 years, I find that the time and money spent on the renovation is more geared towards selling. This also helps to determine what colours and finishes to use, as you need to strike a balance between creating something you like and will enjoy every day, and also something that will appeal to “the masses” when the time does come to sell. So maybe pull back on anything a bit ‘out there’ that might deter future buyers, or see if you can live with what you’ve got until it’s time to sell. Generally whites and neutrals, classic, clean design sells easily. Maybe save that purple feature wall for your next place! 


If you’ll likely stay in the property for 5 + years, I think that any money spent on improving it is more like an investment in your lifestyle, so you can make decisions based on your personal preferences and create a space that’s exactly to your liking. In this case you've got permission to splurge and to do what you want, without considering what other people will think. In saying that, many people find comfort in knowing what the property’s value is, to avoid over-capitalising on the renovation.


The other question I ask to determine budget is — what figure would you be uncomfortable spending? For every client this is different, because each project is different. I will often start with asking something like “Is your budget more than $10,000?” or “Is your budget less than $100,000?”. I can usually tell by the look on my client’s face when I’ve reached the amount that makes them uncomfortable! 


After asking yourself this question a few times, you’ll find you’ve got a much better idea of what you’re happy to spend and what you’re not happy spending. It’s helpful to think about this before you engage any professionals (architects, designers, builders) so you make sure you’re all on the same page up front.


Booking a 2-hour consultation with us may help you determine what you can improve in your home within your budget. Contact us to find out more. 

Alex Gourlay