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Cottage transformation

Making a Splash
Making a Splash

A tired weatherboard was dramatically transformed into a gorgeous cottage with an exterior makeover plus new kitchen and bathroom.



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The project


We purchased this cottage on the north coast of New South Wales and updated the kitchen and bathroom, created an ensuite to the master bedroom, gave the property a good scrub and fresh paint and opened up the verandah. The house sold after the first inspection.


As a general rule of thumb we set the renovation budget at 10 per cent of the purchase price of the property, spending the money where it will reap the most return – kitchen, bathroom and landscaping at the front for a great first impression. We try not to spend money where buyers won't notice and we always renovate to target a specific demographic. There'll be a 'wow' factor of some sort in every room and that doesn't have to be expensive for it to look good. We're always focused on creating a great look for less money that will appeal to buyers right from the beginning, and we're lucky that tackling projects ourselves saves our budget too.


I use wooden shelves a lot in kitchen renovations as it's a trend that is more affordable than overhead cupboards, and I style these to sell the home. As long as there is a good pantry in the kitchen, I'll use these wooden shelves made by my husband and I. We were pleased with how they look in this kitchen.

When it comes to paint, we always use flat over Wash&Wear type finish to paint on Gyprock walls, and semi-gloss on all skirtings, architraves and wardrobe doors. We also use semi-gloss on internal rendered walls as it actually hides lumps and bumps better than flat. 


We use exterior paints that are labelled as low sheen but have a bit more shine to them such as Taubmans low sheen exterior paint, and we use exterior paint in a semi-gloss or gloss (depending on the brand) for exterior posts and railings. The exterior of this house was painted with a custom tinted colour, but it's very close to Taubmans Cable Ash.  The interior colour is Dulux Whisper White, which is white with a little bit of warmth.


Budget breakdown:

2015 – Purchased the property at $445,000

Renovated the front house (this house in the photos) Complete a structural renovation adding new bathroom, deck, reconfigured internals creating ensuite to the master bedroom, opened the verandah. Cost $120,000

2016 Sold (this house) for $545,000

Subdivided off the rear block at the cost of $50,000

2016 Sold rear block (property two) for $306,000

Gross Profit $236,000 (not including stamp or legals).


Before and after




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Belinda's top tips for renovators


  • Establish what your property is worth now and predict its value after renovation. (Research previous sales of highly renovated properties in the area to predict the equity gain.)


  • Set a sensible budget, be realistic about what can be achieved within that budget and never overcapitalise.


  • Plan the look you are after, what properties are sought after in the area, the people you are appealing to – and target that specific demographic. Plan the renovation. Schedule the trades. Select product early.


  • Don’t make emotional decisions when choosing fixtures and fittings, even if you are upgrading for yourself. Remember that everything goes out of fashion eventually, so keep a cool head and watch the pennies.


  • Find good tradesmen through recommendations and ask to view their work and speak to previous clients. Get quotes.


  • Keep your trades happy. Pay them on time, give them lots of praise and coffee when they work well. It makes it easier to approach them for discussion when something is not up to scratch. Also, keep notes in a log or diary.


  • Keep up to date with your paperwork, and keep all of your receipts together.


  • Style to sell, or enjoy your hard work and stay in a home you love.


You can read more about project creator Belinda Smith in our member profile story A lifetime of renovating.


More renovation projects


Belinda has shared other impressive renovations much admired by the Workshop community, like this coastal cottage renovation


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Other projects include:




You'll also find plenty of inspiration for tackling your next renovation in Top 10 most popular renovation projects.



Making a Splash

Love this transformation - beautiful colours and inspiration!

Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Hi @Caron


Let me tag @2Belindas to make them aware of your kind words. I totally agree, their cottage transformation is amazing and inspirational. Should you try something similar on your property, please make sure to post an update. I'm sure our members would be keen to see the transformation of your home.




Making a Splash

Thank you for your kind words @Caron  and @EricL  for letting me know.

There's nothing more enjoyable than transforming something old into a lovely home.


Making a Splash

Fantastic reno; I love the kitchen! Great job. Thanks for sharing.

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