Bedrooms are right up there in the hierarchy of most important rooms in a home as they are an exclusive, private space for its resident – a sanctuary, a haven away from the stresses of the world. However, in many cases, especially when it comes to larger families, there aren’t enough bedrooms for everyone to have their own private room, and someone has to share.
The value of a bedroom is such that an extra one in a home can have a crucial impact on its appeal to tenants.
“The more habitable bedrooms a house can offer, the more rental income a landlord can receive,” says Paola Tapia, the CEO of renovation firm Refurb4Profit.
There may be rooms in your property that you don’t really have use for. Whether it’s a too-large living area, a storeroom or a rumpus, redoing a room to alter its function can be a rewarding endeavour in the long run.
Making a major change in order to repurpose a room can be challenging, as it generally involves some structural work. You may need to check the wiring and plumbing, especially if you’ll be knocking things down. However, it’s not impossible to do with a skilled builder to help you out – and may also be possible to achieve at a reasonable cost.
Careful planning from top to bottom will be your greatest asset here. Determine what you want to see in the new room early on and how you want it to work with the rest of the property, then assemble the team that will help you realise that vision. If you can reconfigure a floor plan to add an extra bedroom, you can create greater functionality and add buckets of value along the way – the ultimate win-win!
THE PROJECT: BEDROOM
STEP ONE: CREATE AN ATMOSPHERE
One of the most crucial features of a bedroom, and one that generally serves to separate it from other types of rooms, is atmosphere. A beautiful bedroom is one that’s warm, cozy and comfortable. One factor that aids in achieving this effect is the right flooring.
Carpet can be an excellent choice to add a sense of comfort to a bedroom. It’s a versatile type of flooring that doesn’t need to be permanent, which is ideal if you’re looking to sell or rent out a property. Carpet will also help you save money by allowing you to keep the original flooring while making it more aesthetically pleasing.
Grey carpeting can be a smart colour choice as it is a neutral shade that doesn’t get visibly dirty very quickly. Nonetheless, carpets do require regular cleaning and maintenance, as the material can retain a lot of dust.
STEP TWO: SPRUCE UP THE WALLS
When renovating, you must always keep in mind the end result you are aiming for.
“We always look at the objective of the property, taking a holistic approach and making it work for the demographic,” Tapia explains. This can sometimes mean plastering older walls.
“Plastering gives you a nice finish and a consistent and clean look. The main reason why we plastered one room was because of its lack of insulation. Once you take the panelling off to put insulation, you can’t use it again, so plastering is a great solution to achieve a consistent look afterwards.”
If you choose to do DIY plastering, be very careful or you could wind up with rough, uneven walls. A flat, smooth application of coats is crucial to a well-plastered wall.
STEP THREE: TAKE A RISK WITH COLOUR
Many renovators go for white walls, particularly if the property is meant to be sold or rented out. However, Tapia believes this default isn’t always the best option.
“People sometimes think, ‘Oh, just put white walls.’ But white walls in many instances feel clinical. It also depends on the height you’re working with and the style of the home,” she says.
“If a house has character or a low ceiling, we tend to choose based on what the natural lighting is like, what reflects onto the wall and what reflects onto you when you look at it.”
To get out of the ‘white’ rut, some neutral shades you can try are ‘greige’ – a mixture of grey and beige that has a warm depth – or taupe with mauve tones.
STEP FOUR: MAXIMISE NATURAL LIGHTING
If the original space you’re working with doesn’t have great windows, it would be wise to invest in new ones to brighten things up. Natural light is ideal for bedrooms as it provides an easy warmth that’s perfect for the environment.
If you’re repurposing a sunroom, you’re in luck – that means you’re working with large windows that already bring in lots of natural light. If you have a balcony to work with, a sliding door can open up the space further. Soft curtains or blinds can add privacy without compromising the brightness.
With windows being such a significant feature of the room, it will be vital to keep them looking good. Aside from a regular wipe-down, they need to be examined thoroughly every year, especially the seals.
STEP FIVE: KEEP IT PRIVATE
Large windows may look lovely and make your bedroom look brighter, but this is the most personal space in your home and needs to be kept that way.
Curtains are a traditional option and generally create a cozy feel. You’re also not limited to heavy or plain fabrics – the many kinds of curtains out there mean you have your pick based on the mood you want to achieve.
Blinds have an elegant appeal and lend themselves very well to maintenance. They can effectively filter out light to keep it at the level you desire.
Is the sun shining on your face but you’re too lazy to get up? Motorised curtains and blinds allow you to adjust the shade from the comfort of your bed.
STEP SIX: LIGHT UP AT NIGHT
Natural light is gorgeous, but it does fade. So you need to complement your new bedroom with the right lighting for the evening. If you’re working with a space that originally had stark white lighting, opt to trade that for a warmer glow.
“We recommend warm lighting for residential renovations to give a welcoming and cozy feel,” Tapia explains.
LED lights are affordable and energy-efficient, and many bulbs these days can be adjusted with a dimmer to let you dictate the tone of the room. These lights are also long-lasting.
You can use your lighting to make a design statement as well – some flush-mount lights are etched with beautiful designs set off perfectly by warm yellow lights.
STEP SEVEN: RENOVATE WITHIN REASON
When repurposing a room requires big COST changes, it’s important to ensure you stay within the limits of renovations that can be done without council approval. For this reason, it’s important to work with the right team, especially the right consultant and builder.
“The regulations in each state indicate how much work can be done from a carpenter perspective without seeking approval. When a builder is hired, it is their responsibility to check that whatever is planned is compliant with current state regulations,” Tapia says. With any structural modifi cation, it is best to engage a professional who knows the limits, and how to do it safely.
Installing a new door can serve as one of the biggest heralds that a major alteration has been made to an existing room. Don’t take the process lightly, however; one miscalculation and you’ve got a misaligned door!
STEP EIGHT: DECORATE WITH PURPOSE
As a crowning touch, the COST repurposed room needs to be decorated to add some personal flair that transforms it into a private bedroom space.
Naturally, the room has to be stocked with furniture that you would defi nitely want to doze off on, storage spaces for clothes, and perhaps some shelves for its inhabitant’s personal effects.
If there are existing items from the original room that you can reuse, doing so can help you save money – just ensure they’ve been cleaned and spruced up to fit that nice new space.
Open storage areas are a fantastic way to add space to a small bedroom. Large mirrors also create the illusion of a bigger space, so they’re a wonderful and functional accessory.
When Paola Tapia was hired to completely revamp a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house in Melbourne, the owner’s plan was to eventually demolish the property for redevelopment into a collection of apartments in a decade’s time.
On inspection, however, Tapia saw that there was more potential to the house because of how much space there was to work with.
“I said to the owner, ‘I think you have great potential to turn this into a four-bedroom home’. They had one big living area in the centre of everything, and a room in the back of the house that was used more as a rumpus room,” Tapia says. She envisioned transforming all of that inviting space into a large master bedroom with an en suite.
“When we looked at the rental potential of improving the confi guration from a threebedroom, one-bathroom home into a fourbedroom, two-bathroom home, it was obvious that the investment would be worthwhile.”
Tapia got to work on modifying the rumpus room, which needed some structural changes.
“The only other access to the back bedroom was through the third bedroom, so we had to create access for it straight from the living area. We changed the hallway so that you could now enter the back room and put all four bedrooms in a row,” Tapia says.
She also spiced up a substandard floor with carpeting to make it feel more like a bedroom.
“We decided to put carpet in that room because it only had chipboard, whereas the rest of the house had floorboards. If we had put in different flooring, it would have been slightly more expensive – as a rental, every decision and material selection has to be strategically thought through and considered for feasibility of the project.”
Tapia focused on what the property could become and on its appeal to its target demographic – a growing family household. This mindset informed all the decisions made.
“We work with a lot of suppliers, so it depends on who has the skill set for the job and can work to our timeline and budget. The trades are invited to our projects depending on the property we’re working on, whether highend, mid-tier or low-end. Similarly, that defi nes the process of material selection – what brand, product and specification we go with.”Ultimately, the owner was so pleased with Refurb4Profit’s proposal that they decided that renovation was better than demolition, and put their development plans on hold.
is the founder and CEO
of Refurb4Profit in Melbourne
Disclaimer: All products and prices listed are correct at the time of printing. The advice contained in this article is for general information only and should not be taken as financial advice. Please make sure to speak to a qualified professional person before making any investment decision.