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Share Your Space: An interior designer's beachy bungalow that she's renovating on a budget.

Age: 27

Job: Interior Designer.

Mortgage: $400 a week and I live with my fiancé, Border Collie and cat!

Location: Narara, Central Coast, NSW.

Lifestyle

We moved to the Central Coast from Sydney as we both live a very laid-back lifestyle and love being surrounded by nature.

We’re a short drive to beautiful dog-friendly beaches, state forests and national parks, which we are usually exploring with our dog most weekends! Unfortunately, we don’t have any cafes or restaurants in walking distance, but it’s a nice quiet suburb with great bushland views and it’s our stepping stone to moving to the country.

So, take us inside: 

This is our first home, and we have been slowly renovating this ugly, 80s brick house on a very tight budget! 

Image: Supplied.

We have done everything ourselves (having a handy fiancé has been very helpful!), which has mainly been a lot of painting and landscaping. 

I’m not the best at tracking our expenses, but I’d estimate we have spent $5-6K and already made such a big impact on its appearance. We’re yet to do the big projects, but hoping to renovate the kitchen and laundry in the near future (I’ve already modelled what I’d like to do). 

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The layout is quite strange, but gives the house a unique flow. It’s a split-level with a central courtyard and multiple gardens/deck spaces as we are on a hill, so there are lots of different views and spaces to hang out. It’s also got a double-car garage and workshop, which was a huge selling point!

Bedrooms: 

We’ve got two bedrooms and I use one as a makeshift home office. 

Our main bedroom is quite large with built-ins, timber beams and big windows on both walls with a view to a little garden at the back of the house and also into the central courtyard, so it gets a lot of natural sunlight. 

Before:

Before. Image: Supplied.

We haven’t done much to this room yet, just styled it with bedding from I Love Linen and some plants! 

After:

After. Image: Supplied.

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The plan is to redo the flooring with oak floorboards throughout the whole house, as it’s a bit of a patchwork at the moment, continuing into the bedrooms. We'll also add white linen curtains and a decorative rug.

In terms of furniture, you could describe us as “thrifty”, as we haven’t bought any furniture new (yet!). I’ve been handed down a lot of the furniture from my grandparents and we get a lot from Marketplace, or even the side of the road and fix it up! 

The spare bedroom is currently in the works, as I’ve reached a point where I need to set up a better home office with storage.

I’ll be replacing the bed with a sofa bed to create more space, painting the walls a deep green and currently have my eye on a beautiful teak and rattan cabinet for storage from Cocounika and a Persian-style rug from Temple & Webster.

My partner made the desk from plywood from Bunnings ($100 from memory) and the chair is from Officeworks ($69).

Image: Supplied.

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Bathroom.

Our bathroom is quite big and was newly renovated by the previous owners. It's not to my style and I would love to make some changes, but I'm planning to leave it as is as it’s quite a costly project. 

There’s plenty of storage and great light.

Image: Supplied.

Lounge/Dining area:

The lounge and dining area is the main space of the house and it’s very open plan with the kitchen attached and deck adjoined. There are large timber beams running across the ceiling, which is a great feature and it looks up into the courtyard.

We spend most of our time here so it was one of the first areas we got our hands on. 

Every window had doubled-up, purple curtains (why don’t people like light?!), the brick was overbearing, there was a classic 80s fan with a pull cord right in the middle of the walkway, and the front door had yellow glass which created a lovely sickly glow.

Before:

Before. Image: Supplied.

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Before. Image: Supplied.

Before. Image: Supplied.

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We spray painted the bricks Dulux ‘natural white’ and the feature walls in Dulux ‘white cabbage’ to add subtle colour, removed the fan, replaced all the lighting with simple surface-mounted ones from IKEA ($140) and added a large rattan pendant light over the dining table from Marketplace ($50), originally from IKEA as well.

After:

After. Image: Supplied.

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The kitchen had what Ben liked to describe as ‘floor on the ceiling’, so we removed that, exposing the beams and painted the ceiling. 

It was winter when we were renovating this space and mid-COVID-19, so got a bit excited when we found a beautiful cast iron fireplace on Marketplace (approx $1000 with a new flue) for sale. We also built the hearth underneath, using tiles that cost $6 and timber edging from Bunnings.

It was so luxurious and entertaining though, and our cat slept under it every night. 

After. Image: Supplied.

We have furnished this space with a lot of eclectic pieces either found on Marketplace or from family that didn’t want it anymore. I’ve littered the walls with my travel photography, art and masks we’ve collected from different countries and of course a lot of plants!

After. Image: Supplied.

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After. Image: Supplied.

Kitchen: 

The kitchen is a great size, but super ugly. I can’t wait to renovate it with terrazzo, brass and timber! I also want to add a bi-fold window out to the deck. I’ll keep dreaming...

Outdoor space: 

The exterior and street appeal was terrible with this house, all bricks and a mix 'n match of colours, finishes and add-ons. There are a few separate levels, so it was a lot of work, but there are fruit trees, a vegetable garden and large gum trees surrounding us, so it’s beautiful to hang out in with our dog.

Before:

Before. Image: Supplied.

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Before. Image: Supplied.

After deciding on colours, we went for it, painting the whole exterior in Dulux ‘oolong’ and trim in ‘endless dusk' with a handheld spray gun from Bunnings. It has made such a difference, but it was such a pain to do! And we still haven’t finished, don’t look too close...

After:

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After. Image: Supplied.

The central courtyard was very dark and gloomy, and all brick. It was a very sad space and impacted the whole house, so we ripped it all out including the roof, allowing a lot of sunlight into the lounge room.

Before:

Before. Image: Supplied.

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Before. Image: Supplied.

We picked up trailer loads of used sandstone flagging from Marketplace (of course!) which cost about $500 and one by one we shaped and laid them. 

We also added a timber awning, planted grapevines to grow over it and laid a new lawn ($200). It’s one of my favourite spaces in the house.

After:

After. Image: Supplied.

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After. Image: Supplied.

The entryway was very 80s, with a green plastic roof, which went nicely with the yellow glass door. 

Before:

Before. Image: Supplied.

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Before. Image: Supplied.

After fencing in the front and building a gate, we painted and replaced the roof with clear plastic, planted native proteas, a fig tree and added a hammock chair.

After:

After. Image: Supplied.

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After. Image: Supplied.

I looked into buying a new front door, but in the end restored the original, painting it Dulux ‘coral blossom’ and replacing the glass with clear ($50) from a local glass supplier, cut to size, then we installed (another skill we now know how to do after watching a YouTube video).

After. Image: Supplied.

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Final thoughts:

Overall, I love our house. It has been so much fun designing and planning the spaces to make it our own and seeing it evolve.

During the lockdown and COVID-19, we were able to get a lot done. We were very appreciative of our space and having so much to do, to keep us busy!

As an interior designer, of course, I wish I had all the money in the world to fully renovate and furnish it, but with it being our first house we’ve had to go the budget, DIY route. Which, if I’m being honest, is more our style anyway - trying our hand at everything and anything! 

Feature Image: Supplied.

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