Tag Archive | Renovating

From 70s relic to contemporary stunner

Injecting older homes with a whole lot of style Part 2

Do you dream of turning a rambling farmhouse into the quintessential country retreat or dragging a creaking Victorian into the present day with a sleek, modern makeover?

When we think of renovating it’s often these homes that come to mind. Highly sought after (with a price tag to match), with ageing wiring, stumps and dated layouts, costs for these fixer-uppers can skyrocket before anyone’s even started swinging a hammer.

So what about tackling a home from a less popular era like the 70s, 80s or 90s? Could there be one tucked just around the corner from that dreamy California Bungalow crying out to be updated?

While they might not have the initial street appeal these homes can really shine with a little love and offer excellent value for money.

Ask the experts

In Part 1 of this story we heard from Wayne Zantuck of Wayne Zantuck Design and Landscape Construction. Now, Dugald Campbell from Edifice Construction and Adrian Kowal from Kowelec share their ideas.

We’re also lucky enough to be able to show you the transformation of a 1970s Castlemaine home purchased from Waller Realty in 2015. From 70s relic to sleek, contemporary home.

“I think the best place to start with homes of these eras is by opening up the floor plan,” says Dugald. “This will bring in more light and create living spaces more in line with current trends.”

“One of the great thing about these homes is that the trusses usually extend to the external walls so removing internal walls isn’t an issue, ” he adds.

Dugald also suggests using skylights and solar tubes to bring in more light and one of the simplest renovation options of all – paint!

For our 70s transformation everything from the walls and lintels to door jambs has been given a coat of bright white and the change is striking.

Princess st Dining

Electrics can be a significant cost when renovating. Adrian says cabling in these homes is generally in good condition and won’t require re-wiring.

“We tend to find most fittings are compliant and safe and if switchboards do need to be upgraded it’s a pretty easy job,” he says.

Both Adrian and Dugald recommend checking how much power is at the property as mains may need to be upgraded if renovations include adding swimming pools or large air conditioning units.

Bathrooms are often a sticking point in houses of this era. Dated and dingy, gutting them is often seen as the only option. But with some simple changes like new tiles and taps, a bit of re-grouting and paint they can be brought back to life.

See the transformation above. New vanity, taps and toilet and suddenly this dated relic is looking right on trend.

When it comes to bathrooms no one likes to share. Homes of this era are more likely to have an ensuite than your ageing Edwardian and, while it might not be the one of your dreams, Dugald says this can be a real advantage.

“Cosmetic changes like replacing old style shower bases and screens with modern walk-in showers and updating tired tiles and vanities can all be done for a lot less than the cost of adding a new bathroom,” he says. “When it comes to managing a budget this can be a real advantage.”

Next time, local interior decorator, Lynne Mewett from Creative Ambience shares some ideas for simple upgrades in the kitchen and living areas.

Renovation images by @lynchmobmedia


Don’t write off the 80s 90s house

Injecting older homes with a whole lot of style

Mass plantings of natives and exotics create more street appeal and soften the look of this home. Image: Wayne Zantuck Design & Landscape Construction

They were the decades that brought us Madonna, the rubik’s cube, hyper colour t-shirts, He-man and the Masters of the Universe, mobile phones the size of house bricks, frozen yoghurt and acid wash denim.

The 80s and 90s also brought us a style of home many think will be too difficult to modernise. Generally built of brick veneer, this was the era of colonial or faux period styling, often with dark interiors, lower ceilings and exposed beams.

But don’t be put off. With some relatively simple upgrades these properties can really shine, not to mention offer excellent value for money.

What’s great about them?

Concrete slabs

No re-stumping worries or costs.


These homes have it in abundance. Think built-in and walk-in wardrobes, double garages, pantries, hall cupboards and living room units.


The trend towards open plan living was really taking shape so they often have great flow and large spaces (surely no child of the 80s could forget the rumpus room?). You’re also likely to find at least three if not four bedrooms.

Low maintenance

Unlike weatherboard, bricks require almost no maintenance. Unless you want to change the colour they’ll look great while you do nothing, forever.

Ask an expert

We asked three experts for their top tips to lift a classic brick veneer. First up, Landscaper, Wayne Zantuck from Wayne Zantuck Design and Landscape Construction.

“Front garden design in this era relied heavily on feature ornamental trees, often either side of a central path to the front door, with boundary hedges and lots of lawn,” says Wayne.

He suggests moving away from the rigid lines and symmetrical design, softening the lines with some organic curves and using ground covers that assist with passive cooling, preferably low evergreens. He also favours using a more simplified planting schedule, which can create street appeal at the same time as being functional.

“These days we’re more water and climate conscious – gardens need to be bullet proof!” he says.

“We’re replacing lawns with larger garden beds and mass plantings of what we call ‘set and forget plants. Usually a combination of natives and exotics, like grasses that don’t need to be pruned, plants like rosemary or euphorbia that are self doming and ornamental grape vines that grow quickly and are super hardy.”

Wayne also installs ‘living screens’, vertical walls of greenery that are often as simple as two posts strung together with open mesh, wire or other material for plants to be trained through. It’s a quick, low cost solution that delivers both a lush backdrop and more of that all important passive cooling.

Living screens add lush colour and help cool the property. Image: Wayne Zantuck Design & Landscape Construction

Here in Castlemaine Wayne likes to add sculptural elements made from materials with a link to our history.

“We often use steel, stone and red brick in our gardens,” he says. “It’s a great way to tie a dated house to the area.”

Steel and stone features help tie this property to the area. Image: Wayne Zantuck Design & Landscape Construction

Next time, a local builder and interior decorator share their ideas.