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How to capitalise on new renovation trends - October 2018

October 29, 2018 / Written by Rich Harvey


By Rich Harvey, CEO & Founder propertybuyer

Experienced property professionals can walk into a home and fairly accurately lock down its renovation date via a quick glance and some easy mental gymnastics.

In the 1990s, it was all about open-plan living. In the 2000s, high-spec and cutting-edge kitchens were essential. Then it was all-white everything.

Renovation trends come and go, and some are more effective at increasing value than others.

If done strategically, a reno can seriously improve your property’s worth. And in many cases, it can be the changes that aren’t immediately obvious to the naked eye that deliver the most bang for buck.

In a softening market, value-adding renos can be a God-send and we’re seeing some interesting new trends emerge as savvy investors think outside the box in order to boost their wealth.

Thinking of turning your hand to a project? Here are the emerging styles and how they maximise returns.


The multiple effect

Despite a softening in market conditions in some major cities, property prices remain good for the right product and buyers want to get as much for their renovation dollar as possible. In addition, space is at a premium in most cities, so clever adaption of the available square metreage is a must.

Rooms with multiple potential uses are incredibly popular and when done well, can make a property significantly more attractive to prospective buyers. 

A great example is the unobtrusive study nook which provides a space for people who want to work from home or have kids at school.

Also, think maximising opportunities to add storage, such as under the stairs or above wardrobes and via a built-in television unit with heaps of cupboards. I’ve even seen space under beds (formally the domain of monsters and toy trucks) ‘formalised’ via the addition of pull-out drawers.

A clever way to save space in the spare room is to install a wall bed.  There are several stylish designs which have storage underneath or even a fold up study desk or shelving on the other side when not in use as a bed.

Other smart-space ideas include kitchens that have a dining table incorporated into the bench top to help reinforce the area as the heart of a home.

Inclusions which merge storage and display functionality are also hot, such as cabinets or shelving that double as statement pieces – both sculpturally beautiful and functional.

Another continuing trend is bringing the environment in and blurring the line between inside and outside. Instead of standard doors leading to a courtyard, renovators are opting for bifold or sliding stacker doors which open up a room to light and views. This makes those fresh air outdoor rooms fell like a seamless extension of the lounge. Mind you, if you place a baby-grand on the patio, make sure it’s weatherproof, OK?

In the bathroom, consider the users and make sure it becomes a shared space for multiple people – mum and dad, or more than one child – by going for a double basin bench and plenty of separable storage areas.

And if you’re renovating a particularly small area that has high ceilings, consider the idea of a mezzanine space that could be used as a study, spare room, teenager’s retreat or play room. It’s an overseas trend that’s certainly gaining traction on our shores.


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Colours are getting bolder

For the past decade or more, white has been kind of ‘it’ when it comes to renovation paint colours. The feeling was that buyers want a blank canvas, and using bold or bright colours could alienate them.

While there’s still merit in the idea of white, it’s also true that many would-be home buyers don’t have either the time or money to put their own stamp on things.

If you’re shelling out a big chunk of change for a home, you increasingly want it to tick more of your boxes from the start. A blank canvas is a fun idea… but only if you can make it into something great.

I’m not suggesting renovators go for gold walls with orange and silver polka dots, but being a tad more adventurous with colour has payed dividends of late.

An on-trend choice when it comes to the hottest hues are block colours of darker blues and greens, as well as charcoal, paired with a more neutral colour. Softer shades of pink are also emerging.

Autumn-inspired shades not only suit Australia’s arid landscape but they historically tend to go in and out of style less frequently.

Away from colours, renovation trends are shifting away from white kitchens and bathrooms in favour of making big statements. Black kitchen cabinets and black bathroom tiles are at the top of the hot list.  Also black tap ware is now being viewed as more stylish an many new apartment developments.

There is room to work with more eclectic features such as printed wall paper and feature finishes, but unless you are renovating in a way-out artistic part of town, try and keep it just this side of gaudy. You want to pique a buyer’s interest, not alienate them with bad taste.


Spec it up

If you have to make a decision about where to splurge in a renovation, make smart choices that buyers will love and pay more for.

Sacrificing a little bit of space in a kitchen layout in order to create a butler’s pantry – one of the strongest new trends – can pay dividends. Likewise, stealing a bit of area from a room for a bigger bathroom with a standalone bath tub will make a big impact.

Back on sinks, renovation experts say bigger is best. A double kitchen sink is a must-have.

Ceiling-mounted rain showers are popular in bathrooms, as are wine fridges in kitchens.


Green is the new black

There are things not easily seen with the naked eye, but which buyers are gagging over, particularly if they can save them money in the long run.

Solar panels on the roof are good for the environment, the hip pocket and your sale price.

Similarly, energy efficient doors and windows, top-notch insulation and water-saving devices aren’t just popular – they’re a good investment decision.


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Tech it good

What a clever age we live in. Housing technology grows leaps and bounds, but staying on the trends can be hard work.

My tip – don’t be at the front of the pack but look at what’s working beginning to establish before you leap in.

Big brand in smart home technology such as Google Home and Amazon Alexa can be cost efficient and will pair with smart electronic hardware (such as light bulbs) so you can build tech in a modular way.

Wireless music streaming services can be matched with high-quality, low cost speakers to make a home feel like $10 million dollars without it costing an arm and leg.

Think of the practicalities too. Charging stations for phones and other devices are a must-have in homes, so guests don’t have to hunt for a power point and USB plug.


Final tip

If time or money is limited and you have to focus your renovation on the two key areas that maximise return on investment – kitchens and bathrooms are the go.

People spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking, eating and entertaining, and buyers value a space that is smartly designed, trendy and packed with features. Don’t skimp on premium inclusions. If you can’t afford an on-trend marble bench top, go for a slightly cheaper material that has the same look rather than a laminated one.


Clever renovations don’t have to cost a bomb. The key is combining an understanding of what potential buyers or tenants want with an almost intuitive sense of what they’ll need in the future.

Be careful when choosing your next renovation project – while some properties are marketed as a “renovators dream” they could well cost you dearly for many hidden costs lurking under the floor and in the walls that you can’t see.


If you’d like some guidance, talk to us. We are constantly inspecting homes and have a learned a thing or two about what’s gets hearts racing with renovation.


Please contact my friendly team of Buyers Agents who would be glad to help you further.  Tell us your property brief  or call us on 1300 655 615 today. 


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Find A Prestige Property In Sydney 


The Propertybuyer

Wed 22 Nov '23
with Rich Harvey
Using Data & AI for Better Property Decisions
Thu 7 Sep '23
with Rich Harvey
Northern Beaches Real Estate Outlook & Industry Trends
Thu 20 Jul '23
with Rich Harvey
How Sales Agents Think
Thu 15 Jun '23
with Rich Harvey
Auctions – The Inside Scoop
Fri 9 Jun '23
with Rich Harvey
Financing Innovation & Building a Property Portfolio
Thu 25 May '23
with Amanda Jones
Melbourne Property Insights


Listen to many more
podcasts on our
Podcasts page.