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Shoestring Renovation Ideas For Cash-Strapped First Time Homeowners

  • 6 min read

House sales statistics for South Africa show that property sales are booming thanks to first time buyers who are clamouring to take advantage of the current interest rate.

However, climbing onto the property ladder and paying off your first home can be daunting and ‘good deals’ on the property market may mean the need to renovate in order to make the place your own, especially if you have purchased an older house that needs some TLC.

The good news is that scouring the web and media you’ll find  a range of pocket-friendly DIY home-improvement projects that will revitalise your home and have it looking its best.  Family-owned hardware chain, Brights Hardware, has also put together a list of ideas to assist:

Make a good first impression with a “new” front door

Freshening up the curb appeal of your home is a good place to start as the front entrance is the first thing visitors see when arriving at your house. 

“To start, you can give your front door a new coat of paint in a colour of your choice,” says Orlando Luis, CEO of Brights. “Adding some new handles to the door will have it looking good as new.  If your door is beyond rescue, replace it with a new one – just ensure the new door will fit into the existing door frame.”

Paint – a good go-to home renovation solution for any room

“Paint is a wonderful way to update and brighten any space and make it your own,” says Luis.  “Whether you are redoing a colour scheme or just refreshing old, tired paint with a fresh coat, this is a sure-fire way to get your home looking and feeling refreshed.”

Lighten up – new light fixtures will brighten up your home

Old, dated, broken or dull lights can really detract from a room and changing these for new lights is a great – and affordable, (if chosen carefully) – way to modernise and personalise your home. 

“There are so many different styles and types to choose from that you will find something to match any taste.  Make sure that you turn off the power at the breaker box and connect the new wires.  If you are uncertain about working with electricity rather get an electrician in to help you with this one,” advises Luis.

Bright new bathroom

In addition to a fresh coat of paint and a new light, replacing the old taps and shower head in your bathroom is another way to modernise and refresh this space.  An added bonus is that many of the new products on the market are water-wise – which will help you save on your water bill every month too.

“Just ensure that you choose new ones that match your current configuration otherwise you will end up having to redo the actual plumbing, which can be time consuming and costly,” cautions Luis.

“If budget allows, re-tiling the bathroom is a sure-fire way to update, refresh and reinvigorate this essential space in the home.  Much like lighting – there are so many different styles, colours and shapes of tiles to suite any taste or budget that you are sure to easily find those that are a match to your needs.  If your budget doesn’t stretch to new tiles there are clever vinyl tile adhesives on the market that give an instant make-over to old, dated and tired tiles.”

What’s cooking in the kitchen

Much like the bathroom – a fresh coat of paint on the walls, a new light and some new taps will go a long way to revitalising your kitchen.

“But you don’t have to stop with just painting the walls,” advises Luis.  “For those who may be unhappy with their tired and outdated kitchen cabinets but can’t afford to replace them, there are paint products available on the market that will allow you to paint them a fresh new colour – whether your kitchen cabinets are wood or melamine.  Add some new handles and accessories and you will feel like you have a brand-new kitchen.”

Garden overhaul

“Moving out of the home – removing patchy, brown and unhealthy grass and replacing it with gravel/stone chip gives gardens an instant uplift and also means far less hassle.”

Luis further advises that you can quickly create an outdoor alfresco entertainment area by laying down paving stones – “perhaps in the shade of a favourite tree or near to a water feature or the swimming pool.  If the ground is level this is a project that can easily be undertaken in a few days as paving stones do not need a concrete foundation or substrate but can be placed directly onto the ground,” says Luis.

For those new homeowners keen to embark on the renovations and DIY journey ahead, Brights has compiled a list of recommended items that you may want to buy to help bring your projects to life:

Tool Kit – From hammer and nails to different kinds of screw drivers and a variety of pliers, you will need a tool kit to fix and change things around the house.

Long Extension Cord – This will come in handy in a myriad of ways, from home improvements to garden work and everything in between.

Fire Extinguisher – This is an essential item to own for home safety!  Make sure you also have fire extinguishers regularly serviced.

Toilet plunger – A plunger can be an overlooked home essential for times when your toilet gets blocked.  You don’t want to be caught un-prepared!

Ladder – Essential for changing ceiling light bulbs, cleaning out gutters, fixing hard to reach fixtures like cornicing, painting, trimming trees and a variety of other homeowner tasks.

Level – Now that you own a house, it is likely any picture or decorations you hang are going to be up for the long haul. Rather than eyeballing, use a level to get it right. 

Power Drill – You may be surprised at how often this essential tool comes in handy. Look for a cordless drill for the most convenience.

Measuring Tape – Another essential item for the toolbox.  From measuring furniture to see if it will fit to planning and pricing renovations – measuring tapes are a must!

Q20 – As you go through your new home, you are likely to find doors, drawers, and other items that could use a little oiling to keep them from squeaking.

Garden care items – This includes, but is not limited to, a rake, outdoor broom, spade, garden fork, gloves, trimmers, wheelbarrow, and a garden hose. 

Luis advises that Brights Hardware has an online store where customers can browse and shop at their leisure.  We also have on-site experts in all of our branches to provide advice and guidance on any home renovations and upgrades that first time homeowners may wish to tackle.  Whatever you may be wanting to do around the house, our knowledgeable staff members can provide you with all the product insights and information that you need.”

Brights stores are located in Boston, Blackheath, Langebaan, Mitchells Plain, Montague Park, Plattekloof, Uitzicht, Brackengate and Sunningdale. As well as an online store shopping experience available at