Nila Sweeney
Whether you’re updating the apartment you live in or upgrading the “renovator’s delight” you bought as an investment, there are loads of low-cost ways you can improve the look of your unit.
 
“Renovating an apartment is quite different from renovating a house but in ways that are not immediately obvious – and you don't want to discover that when you're halfway through the project and all work is suddenly halted, because you failed to ask permission from the Executive Committee of your building and its members are annoyed and have decided to play hardball,” explains Jimmy Thomson from www.flat-chat.com.au.
 
Before you begin your renovation, Thomson says you can “save yourself a lot of grief – during and after your renovation” – if you
apply for permission through the appropriate channels, get your neighbours onside, and choose a builder or tradesperson who has worked in apartments before.
 
With the organisational side sorted, you can the get stuck into your low cost renovations:
 
1. Go white, light and bright
Generally speaking, apartments are smaller spaces than stand alone houses so you need to use design strategies to make each room look as spacious as possible. White paint on the walls opens up the space and creates the illusion of light. “A fresh coat of paint can really lift the atmosphere within a home, but when considering colours, remember that everyone's taste are different, so the safest colour choices are neutral tones,” suggests the Real Estate Institute of South Australia. “If you decide that painting throughout is not necessary, a thorough wall clean and paint touch-ups in high traffic areas will still make a big difference.”
 
2. Replace the carpet
By changing the flooring you can completely transform the look and feel of your apartment, without breaking the bank. Carpet Choice estimates the average bedroom or living room to be roughly 15 to 18m2, and decent quality carpets can be found for around $20 per square metre if you’re prepared to shop around, which means you’re looking at around $300-$400 per room (not including installation or underlay). Light coloured carpet will have the same spacious impact that lighter walls have, although you may want to opt for a darker shade on the floor if the property is being rented out.
 
3. Get handy with the handles
A quick and easy way to give your kitchen and bathroom a contemporary upgrade is to replace all of the cupboard door handles with brand new knobs. The cost is minimal and you’ll be surprised at the improvement it makes to the overall look of each room.
 
4. Create clean lines through storage
Look for opportunities to add storage to each room by adding clever design features, like a day bed on the balcony that opens up into a storage trunk, or a kitchen island that can store pots and pans. “Clean and free surfaces make an apartment seem more open and relaxed,” says Sydney-based architect Eva-Marie Prineas.  
 
Don’t forget!
As an apartment owner, you will generally need approval for any external alterations or any proposed renovations that dramatically affects the appearance of the building. According to the REISA, putting in a new kitchen, knocking out a wall, building a balcony or replacing window frames are examples of things which may need approval. If in doubt, be sure to check with your body corporate manager.

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