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After leaving my marriage I moved in to a new home to start a new life. The costs and fees involved in buying and selling a place aren’t cheap, so by the time I moved in to my lovely new digs, I found I had little spare cash to spend on styling it, landscaping and some minor renovations.

Determined to have the house of my dreams, I called in some tenacity and creativity and managed to create a beautifully furnished and styled home with a lovely tropical garden for a fraction of the cost. Here’s how I did it:

  1. Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace and eBay are your friends – either to sell stuff you no longer need or want (I sold a heap of items to clear space and get some money to style my new place). If what you’re looking for isn’t there, keep looking – new items come online every day. I saw a beautiful teak day bed in a store near work for $1700. I bought the same model a week later on gumtree for $400 delivered. I also wanted a Moroccan rug but couldn’t afford the $600 price tag. I ended up paying $140 for a new rug direct from an importer on eBay…..and it’s no different to the ones I saw in the showroom. I also bought a white wicker nest chair on eBay for $55 – it’s in perfect condition and cost a small portion of its original value.
  2. Work out where you need to spend the money and where you can save – there’s often a big difference between premium and economy when it comes to the price of home styling, renovation and landscaping. There may be somewhere that’s a focal point of the house, or an area you’ll be spending a lot of your time (perhaps the lounge room or the patio) and you might decide that you are happy to spend more money fixing up and styling these areas so they look and feel amazing. But there will also be other areas which are rarely seen and little time is spent there (perhaps a storage room, cupboard or laundry) and this is where you apply the budget/economy buys.
  3. What can you do yourself? – One on the most expensive factors in any renovation and landscaping project is the cost of labour. So figure out what you can and can’t do yourself. For example, I hired someone to lay my tiles as this was too specialist for my limited DIY skills, but I asked a friend to show me how to use a drill and lay pavers and I was able to do  all the landscaping work myself. And believe me, I’m no natural handy woman, so if I can do it, anyone can! Surprisingly it actually turned out quite well and I found myself laying astro turf, building paths and hanging shade cloth as my confidence grew.
  4. Upcycle and recycle – I found that by looking at my belongings with new eyes, I was able to find new purposes for them. I wanted a white coffee table for my front porch. The only coffee table I had was an old pine one. So I painted it white and you’d never know – it looks fabulous! I also tarted up two delivery crates and turned them in to a gate and a dogs bed and repurposed an old bar in to an outdoor setting. It feels good to re-use things too –‘it’s less wastage and much better on my back pocket!
  5. If you’re looking for building materials, hop on to sites like Grays online or check out your local builders warehouse outlets – You’d be amazed at the bargains available. I bought a load of lovely tiles (no imperfections) for $12 per square metre from a tile warehouse near Brisbane. Their retail price was $35 per square metre. When you’re buying 79 square metres, that’s a big saving!
  6. Put the word out to friends – I told my friends that I was seeking furniture for two spare bedrooms. One of my (generous) friends had just bought new beds for her home and it created a win-win situation to take them off her hands..
  7. Get yourself some free plants – buying the plants can be the most expensive part of landscaping your garden. However, some kind-spirited plants multiply regularly, and make it easy to remove and plant their offspring. Agaves are a great example. You can remove baby agaves from underneath he bigger plants and pop them straight in the ground. They’re hardy and easy to keep and they look wonderful. You can also take parts off of yukkas and succulents and they are similarly willing to grow. At least 50% of my new garden is filled with plants which have been cut from others. It all looks healthy and happy and it has saved me $100’s! Here are a couple of web links with more information.

In short, home renovation doesn’t need to cost the earth. I calculated what my project would have cost had I paid full price and hired tradesmen for everything and the costs came in at 250% of what I actually paid.

So in summary:

– Think outside the square

– Prioritise your spend

– Do some of the work yourself

– Look into sources of free and cheap supplies

Good luck and enjoy the process!

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If you’re ready to get back on track after a breakup, we have the perfect companion to walk with you as you build your new life. Our 10-week online program called “Moving onwards and upwards after separation or divorce” will give you all the insights, tools and templates to work out what’s important to you and where you want to be… and then we’ll guide you to create a workable plan to get there. For more information, please click here.

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