A former Vogue beauty editor and mother-of-two has revealed the eight lessons she learned when she renovated her dream home.
Determined to avoid spending a ‘small fortune’, former magazine editor and founder of Beauticate Sigourney Cantelo said she wanted to see what she could do without enlisting the help of builders.
Since transforming her Sydney property, Sigourney revealed that she has learned eight lessons about renovating.
From laminating floors to save cash to using bright paint in small rooms to make them appear bigger, FEMAIL reveals her top tips.
A homeowner and mother-of-two (pictured with her kids) has revealed the eight lessons she learned when renovating her dream home
While you might think laminate floors won’t necessarily look as classy as timber or hardwood, in fact Sigourney said the opposite is true (pictured: before and after of her flooring)
Lesson one: Laminate floors to save cash while still looking good
While you might think laminate floors won’t necessarily look as classy as timber or hardwood, in fact Sigourney – who was recently awarded a certificate in interior design at TAFE – said the opposite is true.
‘We initially intended to get timber, but the laminates now look so real and are not only much cheaper but are much more hard-wearing,’ she told Beauticate.
Not only this, but such flooring is practical with children as you they are hard-wearing and means you can wear whichever shoes you want.
Sigourney explained she and her partner Damien removed the old carpeting and tiles themselves without ‘much trouble’.
They then ensured they had a really flat concrete surface in order to lay down the floating floorboards by laying down ‘self-levelling concrete from Bunnings’, having heard it would cost $2-$3k to get a builder to do the same job.
However, Sigourney said things didn’t exactly go to plan as she said it’s ‘really hard to get it smooth’.
The family ended up calling in a professional to fix it up somewhat, which cost less to fix than it would have been for the whole job, but wasn’t worth the extra effort.
However, once this was done, Sigourney said the floorboards went in ‘pretty easily’ and gave a sleek, modern and minimalist look.
After her concrete disaster, Sigourney said one of the main lessons she has learned is that it really helps to have a pro help out with your floors (living room pictured before and after)
Lesson two: Get a pro to do your floors
After her concrete disaster, Sigourney said one of the main lessons she has learned is that it really helps to have a pro help out with your floors.
‘The carpet was quickly and easily installed and I’m really happy with how it feels underfoot,’ she said – adding that the whole project set her back $3,000.
Sometimes, she said, it’s worth spending a little bit more money to get a pro finish.
Sigourney said the third thing she learned was that you should definitely get a personal recommendation for a builder where possible to avoid nightmares down the track
Lesson three: Get a personal recommendation with builders
Sigourney said the third thing she learned was that you should definitely get a personal recommendation for a builder where possible to avoid nightmares down the track.
She said she found a builder online, but was disappointed when after a few days he didn’t turn up on time, ‘citing some convoluted excuse about not having access to a suitable car’.
She said her builder eventually got the job done – over two months late, but was thankful the cost only came in $750 over budget.
Paint is so important among those who know about interior design that it is often described as ‘liquid gold’ – Sigourney said paint can make a small room appear bigger (pictured)
Lesson four: Adjust your paint colours to suit the lighting of each room
Paint is so important among those who know about interior design that it is often described as ‘liquid gold’.
And Sigourney said she completely agrees with this idea – and said you should paint each room according to its size.
‘If a room gets less daylight, you may want to brighten the colour of the paint,’ Sigourney said.
This can help it to appear bigger and more up to date.
Sigourney said she painted most of her home white as she wanted it to appear ‘fresh’ – and after much deliberation she said she called in the experts and spent $4,000 getting two paints done around the house.
Renovating is messy business, and Sigourney said putting dropsheets down further than you think will save you time in the long run (pictured: her home)
Lesson five: Put dropsheets down further than you think when using spray paint indoors
Renovating is messy business, and Sigourney said putting dropsheets down further than you think will save you time in the long run.
‘There’s a lot of prep work required as things can get a bit messy,’ she said.
‘We bought several cans of black matte spray paint and all the equipment then spent a day just masking and preparing the surrounding area.’
The mum said she learned that putting down the dropsheets further than she thought is always good, as because they were doing it on a windy day, black spray paint ended up blowing further into their apartment than they would have liked.
‘We managed to save a lot by buying materials direct from suppliers and doing some of the work ourselves with the help of a carpenter friend,’ Sigourney said (her kitchen pictured before and after)
Lesson six: Be creative with your kitchen
For many homeowners, the kitchen is the centre of the home – and the most important room to think about.
It’s also the room that Sigourney is most proud of.
Having visited a few kitchen renovation stores only to be quoted somewhere between $10,000 and $50,000 she said she realised they didn’t need to rip out the whole thing and start again – only redo the island and benchtops and add a rectangular sink.
‘We managed to save a lot by buying materials direct from suppliers and doing some of the work ourselves with the help of a carpenter friend,’ Sigourney said.
They also saved cash by finding a Quantum Quartz supplier for the benchtops on Gumtree and later a ‘gorgeous black tap’ on eBay.
Sigourney said she managed to do her entire kitchen for under $5,000 and urges any renovator to look in unusual places for what you want with your kitchen – as you don’t always have to spend a fortune.
Even if it’s cupboards in your roof or a bed with a base, any storage space is good storage space, Sigourney said – she found space under her stairs which became extra storage
Lesson seven: If you’re tight on space, use any available area for storage
Even if it’s cupboards in your roof or a bed with a base, any storage space is good storage space, Sigourney said.
She ended up turning her space under the stairs into extra storage and built a cupboard into a desk nook with pull out drawers and a set of book shelves for more storage.
Because the family were in an apartment, Sigourney said she really had to think about other storage ideas.
They found a void above the bathroom which became an attic storage room and also bought a bed with storage to keep excess beauty products in.
There is always extra space to be found.
Sigourney said she benefitted hugely from taking a TAFE interior design course, and said it left her with ‘the foundations to play with the design aspects’
Lesson eight: If you’re interested in interior design, take a course
Sigourney said she benefitted hugely from taking a TAFE interior design course, and said it left her with ‘the foundations to play with the design aspects’.
When she was starting, Sigourney said she did a mood board of what she wanted to create, adding swatches of colours and furniture styles she liked – before setting out to work slowly and steadily on her home.