DIY home renovations: Our experience, before and after!

October 30, 2019

IKEA kitchen home renovations

UPDATE – we now have a YouTube video with a home tour and our renovation journey with before and after photos! 

DIY home renovations – I’ll admit they always scared me. I was never very handy and would require assistance (more like supervision) to change a lightbulb. However, once Franky and I started house hunting we quickly realised we wanted to make our first home our own, plus add a bit of extra value to the place. So, this young couple with a background in communications and IT (not exactly helpful) decided to do a ‘little reno project’. We found a perfect house – pink carpets, yellow walls, very 90’s arches and a tiny, outdated kitchen. Perfect!

In reality, this is how two complete amateurs dived in way over their heads. And we did it!


With eager smiles and keys in our hands we drove to a three bedroom, two bathroom house for the very first time. First task, get advice from a builder. Luckily we had a good friend who could help. Getting advice from a builder before starting renovations is an important first step for figuring the rest of your project. Since we were knocking down walls, our builder checked for load bearing and gave us the go ahead to start demolition.

First, we hired an electrician to switch off live wires in areas of demolition like the kitchen and living room. While they were there, we installed some down lights, outdoors sensor lights, updated our power points and switches to Arteor Netatmo by HMP smart switches and socklets to make our house more automated. Now, our light switches and power points are connected to our phones and we can operate them from anywhere. Perfect for switching on the heating or cooling just before heading home!

The entire house needed a good coat of paint but we decided to start with the bedrooms. I chose a clean ‘Cotton Ball’ white from the Taubmans Paint selection to make the house appear larger and more open. Creating space and better entertaining areas is our top priority so we kept that in mind when making decisions for our renos.

We aimed to paint as many rooms as possible before ripping out the old pink carpet. This makes things easier and we don’t need to worry about using drop sheets, particularly when painting the ceiling. Once the bedrooms are done, out came the old pink carpet. Ripping this out felt surprisingly satisfying. Timber floors here we come!


By the second week of renos all I could see is white. I took it upon myself to paint the entire house in beaming ‘Cotton Ball’ while Franky focussed on demolition. I don’t know if ‘painters shoulder’ is an accurate medical term but my dominant painting arm had suffered! Another fun side effect of endless painting is the sudden loss of finger prints. Yes, you read that right. My iPhone stopped recognising my thumb and the convenience of Apple Pay escaped me. Lesson learnt, gloves are a must!

In addition to demolishing the kitchen, we organised a plumber to switch our stove from electric to gas. Luckily, this was easy due to our ducted gas heater system already in the house. So, he simply ran a new gas pipe. While he was there, the bathroom vanity and kitchen sink also received an update! To save money and make way less tradesmen appointments a good tip is to write a list of everything you want done in the space of your renovations. When the tradies arrive, give them the list and ask them to do as many of the things as possible. And if they can’t do something, they’ll generally refer you to someone who can.

In addition, this weekend largely involved running between IKEA and flooring stores. While we had a rough idea of our kitchen design thanks to the IKEA Kitchen Planner we booked a meeting with an IKEA kitchen specialist. If you aren’t familiar with the IKEA kitchens you must check them out! The entire process is super organised, customisable and the kitchen planning program rekindles your childhood memories of playing The Sims. With the kitchen cabinets, lighting and bench top sorted, we grabbed a van and loaded it with 122 flat-packs weighing at an easy 635 kilograms. Needless to say, our gym memberships are on suspension.


By week three we received our gorgeous oak timber flooring. While we are happy with the end result and the quality of floorboards we’ve definitely learned that you should not pay for these things up front. And generally, you don’t. However, due to the ‘super-special-one-time-only-offer’ we paid the full flooring amount before it arrived. Long story short, once they received our money their delivery promises and customer service goes out the door. 

Anyhow, our Aged Oak laminate floor boards finally arrived and the next two weeks were largely focussed on flooring. Alongside flooring and painting we also hired some plasterers to patch up walls and ceiling following demolition. Thinking back on this, I have no idea how we managed full time office jobs, renovations AND tradesmen appointments. Nonetheless, we made it with just a few paint stained fingers, late nights and lots of coffee.


By now we painted, floored, demolished and patched up the entire house. We also managed to squeeze in some flat pack construction. To be exact – 122 boxes of fabulous flat-pack fun. After four weeks we finally had most of our kitchen cabinets ready and awaiting their installation. Now, our priority is to rail, level and construct the kitchen. As daunting as it sounds, the hardest part is finding and matching the wall studs and installing the railing so our cabinets sit securely and levelled. Don’t worry – there’s a tonne of YouTube tutorials to help!  

Another challenge, cutting and installing our laminate bench-top. Yes, when I say DIY home renovations we really did everything ourselves. This was a long and confusing process of figuring out the right power tools, measuring (over and over again), levelling, stuffing up and starting over. We also installed our sink, siliconed the gaps and fit the kicks and bulkheads. With many new skills up our sleeves I am proud to say our kitchen looks exactly how I had hoped (with a few minor bumps, but hey, they add character). Plus, doing this ourselves makes me even more proud of our new home.


The painting, kitchen, flooring and plastering is complete! Small chores like fitting the skirting and furniture shopping is yet to be done but we are happily living in a near finished house not a construction site. Needless to say we don’t miss warming up our dinner in the microwave outside. 

To modernise our home we also installed a few cool systems to make our house smart and more connected. This included the ELIOT Doorbell and the HPM Wireless Charging Station. The doorbell in particular is a clever device with a built in camera that alerts your smartphone when there is someone at your door. Amazing! 

Next, the HPM Charging Station screws into any side table, coffee table or bench and allows for easy wireless charging! Simply place any compatible device on top and it will automatically start charging. Super convenient and avoids annoying, messy cables. Perfect for visitors and house parties!


So here we are! Five weeks later and living in a completely different house. While we did A LOT of home renovations  in a short period of time, we’ve learnt the incredible things that simple changes, like a coat of paint, can do. Add in new, modern flooring and stylish accessories and you’ve transformed your room to something comfortable and chic.

The IKEA kitchen was an incredible low-cost option, costing us just under $5,000. While it’s certainly not for everyone, if you’re up for a challenge I can’t recommend it more. And trust me when I say if two complete amateurs like us can do it, you can too!

As for the rest of the home renovations: flooring, paint, tools, electricians, appliances, plumber, plasterers etc., we made it just around $15,000. Meaning the whole renovation project came around the $20k mark. Not bad.

DIY home renovations IKEA kitchen

This blog post was a very broad overview of our home renovations, as you can imagine, much more detail went into planning and doing the work. If you have any questions or want to know more detail about specific things – let me know! You can also see more before and after photos on my @chicontherunblog Instagram ‘Renos’ highlight. 

Thank you to HMP Le Grand for gifting us the technology to make our home more modernised and connected. Please note all opinions are my own and no financial incentive was provided for this blog post.

Get in touch via my Instagram or leave a comment below if you’d like to hear more. You can also watch our home tour on my YouTube channel! 
Want to know more about home renovations and decor? Read: Find your interior design style.

Natalia x