How to get the best renovation result on a limited budget

Prioritise your spending on the form of the shell and keep the interiors as simple as possible says architect Eva-Marie Prineas

Story by: Paul Taylor Photography by: Chris Warnes
This addition to a 1930s California bungalow by architecture, elevation, facade, home, house, property, real estate, villa, white
This addition to a 1930s California bungalow by architect Eva-Marie Prineas provides a new kitchen, living and dining area at the back of the home, as well as greatly improving the indoor-outdoor flow. All of this was achieved with a modest budget, by prioritising money for the architecture of the shell and keeping the interior fit-out as simple as possible.

It's the dilemma nearly all homeowners face as they start a renovation project on one side of the equation is the wishlist and on the other side the budget. And rarely do they match up.

What's needed is a compromise, which usually means trimming the wishlist. But what should you cut out?

Architect Eva-Marie Prineas' advice is to prioritise the available budget on producing quality space rather than quantity.

"I'd prefer to have something that's beautifully designed and performs a number of functions rather than trying to get more space for your money," she says.


Architect Eva-Marie Prineas design for this renovation project architecture, ceiling, daylighting, furniture, home, house, interior design, interior designer, living room, room, table, wall, gray, white
Architect Eva-Marie Prineas design for this renovation project began with the premise that it was better to spend the modest budget on creating the best shell for the addition rather than on custom joinery. The kitchen uses IKEA components designed to not look like flat-pack cabinetry

For the 1930s bungalow renovation and addition featured here, that even meant having just one bathroom.

"Although it's not ideal, a family can live in a house with one bathroom. Instead of a second bathroom, you could put the money into creating better connections to the outside, or on a skylight things that will give you a better quality of life."

The villa had been in a sad state, with a tiny kitchen and dining room crammed into a lean-to on the back. While the lean-to opened to a deck, this was roofed over and enclosed by a fence, making it dark and poorly connected to the large garden.

Prineas reconfigured the original villa to house bedrooms, a kids' rumpus room and a toilet room. But it's in the addition at the back where her approach to quality space becomes most apparent.

Natural light floods into this ensuite from one architecture, ceiling, house, interior design, table, white
Natural light floods into this ensuite from one of the two lightwells built into the link between a renovated 1930s bungalow and an addition at the rear.

"Given the modest budget, we spent the money on the shell including oversized dormer windows to bring light in through the roof, and the sliding glass door panels to connect to the outdoors."

Everything else has been kept as simple and economical as possible.

With no budget for custom joinery, Prineas relied on IKEA cabinetry, installed into alcoves so they don't look like flatpack. Plus, the addition's concrete floor, also functions as the structural slab.

The link between the old and the new is also a cleverly designed structure, including two lightwells to brighten the master ensuite and a study, as well as housing the laundry.

Aug 19, 2017

Credit list

Architect Prineas
HardieGroove by James Hardie
Kitchen cabinets
Bathroom vanity
Halliday & Baillie
Trends International Design Awards (TIDA)
Element Constructions
Window and door joinery
Dulux Vivid White
Cabinetry handles
IKEA black
Fisher & Paykel
Shower fittings and taps
Bettertiles 23cm x 23cm, white matt
Gamma Illumination





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