Californian Bungalow

We purchased this property site unseen whilst we were overseas on a buying trip. We instantly fell in love with this 1920’s Californian Bungalow brimming with gorgeous charm.

The budget for this renovation wasn’t huge. We had 3 other properties on the go and didn’t really need a forth, but we couldn’t resist and made an offer.


The roof needed immediate attention. The tiles were cracked and faded and they dated the property. We replaced the roof with tin which gave it a more modern, contemporary look. The cost of the new roof was $27,000.

I’m not going to lie. Getting a new roof presented problems. Enter local council.  We pressed on and never gave up, eventually getting our hot tin roof! 

Hot tip : If you are planning to change the exterior of your heritage listed home be prepared for hold ups.  Plan ahead for any type of work that involves getting council approvals and work these projects into your timeline. Definitely allow for delays! 

The sagging roof of faded and cracked tiles really lowered the curb appeal of this property.  The new tin roof gave the exterior a more modern and fresh look. We refurbished the Jarrah decking by replacing all of the old, damaged floorboards with recycled Jarrah and painted the whole exterior using a combination of Dulux Tranquil Retreat (light grey) for the brick and Dulux Antique White for the trims and posts.  The brick boundary wall orignally dark grey was also painted white to create a cohesive feel.  The house now had fabulous street appeal.

The bungalow had tremendously good bones, but it was just so dark and dated. 
The walls were painted an obscure combination of aubergine and jade with striped feature walls. It was all over the place. The dark tones particularly on the ceiling, made the rooms feel like they were coming in down on top of you.

In the renovation world we are constantly told that kitchens and bathrooms sell houses, and in many cases, we agree this is true.

In the instance of our Californian Bungalow project, we knew that whoever was in the market to buy this property would more than likely tear down the back section of the house and rebuild.

This would entail maintaining the facade and bedrooms but moving the living and kitchen to a new location and opening up the back of the house to create an open concept. Spending a fortune on a new kitchen would lose us money in the end.

We simply made cosmetic changes. We painted every square inch (including the floorboards!) and replaced the bench top.
We tidied up the internal carcasses of the kitchen cabinets so that it felt clean and new.

The old leaking tiled roof had left severe water damage in the kitchen so Karl had to patch and gyprock the ceiling in several places then repaint.

The end result, was a pristine clean, light, and bright space that was a pleasure to cook in.

Beyond the kitchen was probably the ugliest room in the whole house. It didn’t make a lot of sense. The miserable brown painted concrete floor and nasty (also brown) metal window frames with dented venetian blinds were very unappealing. The room had no identity or purpose. Beyond the blinds however was a lovely aspect

We pulled out the metal window frames and replaced these with large timber frames maintaining the integrity of the 1920’s home. The view from here particularly at sunset was breath taking so we decided not to use any window treatments here allowing the natural light to flow in.

The room instantly felt open, bright, and inviting and was the first impression when you walked through from the living room to the kitchen.

We used natural fibre sisal to soften the room and create a coastal effect.  We placed counter stools along the kitchen bench for guests to mingle with the Chef. 

Our sunroom was the perfect place for relaxing and entertaining with direct access to the outdoor BBQ.  

Hot tip : Absolutely shop around for trades and contractors. Get a minimum of 3 quotes for contract work.

Our quotes for new timber window frames ranged from $7,000 to $15,000 + for the exact same materials and finishes. We saved $8,000 by approaching 3 different businesses.

The dining room in this house was tiny and the budget wasn’t going to allow structural changes so we simply painted out the striped feature wall and dressed the space with simple, space saving furnishings.

Yes, if you know anything about us now,  you know that we absolutely love white.

White paint comes in literally dozens of shades. Its far from one dimensional.

If you’re looking to create a more contemporary, clean look then a cool white is the colour for your walls.  Cool whites work beautifully in rooms that have a lot of natural sunlight as they work to neutralise bright light.

The reason why we love white so much is simply that it never dates.  You can easily change up your interior from season to season.  It provides you with the perfect base in which to work from, and it never polarises.

Styling tip: When furnishing a small space make sure the furniture itself is not too big for the room. We selected a square antique dining table with pull out leaves and paired it with Thonet Bentwoods that sat neatly under the table top. The dining table seats 6 – 8 guests but for the purpose of presenting the home for re-sale and maximising profit we set the table up as a small square with 4 chairs. Making the room feel bigger.  The open shelving was also a clever space saving option.


The dark timber floor, door and black fireplace made this room feel small and uninviting. There was evident water damage in the ceiling and the walls were showing large cracks.

We stripped back all of the timber doors in house. They were in good condition but needed a new lease on life.

We used enamel paint in high gloss white to update the doors throughout. The labour component to do this is pretty intense, but the end result is incredible. We maintained the door hardware as a nod to the 1920’s era.

We chose to flip the bedrooms and use the largest bedroom (kids room) as the Master. It had a lovely outlook through the double French windows onto the deck and a lot of natural light.

Karl painted the walls in Duluxe Flax Seed (a dove grey with a hint of olive) with white on the ceiling rose and trims. We repurposed some of the old furniture left behind including two free standing wardrobes. The rug on the floor was a custom design from our own collection.

Reno Tip : If you want to keep the budget down then look to do as much of the work as possible, and minimise the number of trades. Labour is costly.

If you can learn to do all of the prep work for example for any painting projects (including cleaning, stripping, sanding, taping) you will save a huge amount.

None of these tasks are particularly good fun, but with good music and a positive attitude you can achieve a lot! Think of the contestants on the block, they are always doing the painting themselves to save on budget.

For resale we decided to turn this bedroom (very tight and narrow) into a nursery.

We painted the walls, ceiling in Infinity white and dressed the window with gorgeous gender-neutral block out curtains in Dove Grey from Pottery Barn Kids. We limited the amount of furniture in the room to make it feel open yet cosy.

Styling Tip: Don’t over clutter a small room. Use a single occasional chair, area rug and pair with a side table & vinette.

Open shelves create the illusion of space and should always be beautifully styled with an assortment of decorative items.

In this case we used neatly folded dove grey towels from K-Mart (to complement the window treatments) books, baskets and storage articles to create an emotive room designed to grab at the heartstrings of our potential young family buyers.

Bed 3 was a polarising combination of dull creme painted walls with a heavy dark green feature accent wall. 

The single bayonet light bulb above with red Jarrah floors meant the room was almost black when you entered the space. It was so dark.

We repaired the water damaged ceiling and large cracks in the walls due to the leaking clay tile roof.

We then painted the ceiling, walls, and floor white to lighten up this space.
The French doors were also painted white, and we built a trellis out from the room to extend the room out and create a cute little sitting area for guests to enjoy a cup of tea.

The natural rattan feature pendant light when on gave the room a beautiful wash effect on the walls and ceiling. This room instantly felt larger and more inviting.


The total budget for this project was $60,000 plus furniture purchases approximately $50,000.

Our decision not to spend a huge amount of money on renovating the existing kitchen and instead just do cosmetic things to improve the aesthetic was right. The new owner did pull down the back section of the house and move the kitchen to a different space.

We loved this house before, during and after the renovation. It was a hard one to let go.