Renovation Diary

This Australian Kitchen Is No Longer A 1920s Meets 1980s Eyesore

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(Image credit: Lorna Ziller)

Name: Lorna Ziller
Type of Project: Open plan kitchen, dining, and sitting room remodel
Location: Moonah, Hobart, Tasmania
Type of building: Brick cottage

After planning, dreaming, destroying and shopping, Lorna’s new kitchen and living space is here! Take the full tour now. Afterwards, she crunches the numbers and offers some hard earned DIY wisdom — as well as shares her favorite things about her sleek new space.

The Renovation Diaries are a collaboration with our community in which we feature your step-by-step renovation progress and provide monetary support towards getting it done in style.

You probably want to see all the before photos of this 1920s meets 1980s home.

The Finished Kitchen

The big project is done! Tell us a little bit about your new space. Have you used it yet? How satisfied are you with the outcome?

While I don’t feel that I have quite accomplished what I wanted, I am delighted with the outcome. Where the previous configuration was awkward and the kitchen was cumbersome, the space now is open, light, and functional. Though it might appear quite economical in size, storage was well considered and everything has a place, allowing for a clean, uncluttered countertop. The kitchen now has the effect of being an element within a greater space, and it has an unassuming elegance about it – it’s delicate, sleek, and has sense of calm neutrality about it.

What is your favorite element of the new room?
I adore my new kitchen. The arrangement of the countertop along one wall maximizes space and the configuration of drawers makes using it a much more pleasant experience. Clean lines and refined forms are complimented by a sense of playfulness, through the incisive use of grey cabinetry with periwinkle undertones, which insinuates a connection with the moody Tasmanian skies and surrounding mountain scape, existing as greater elements of the space beyond each window. The convexity of the brass drawer pulls is a nice counterpoint to the linear lines and grey hues of the cabinetry. Although the Tasmanian oak hardwood floors and the birch butcher block infuse the room with a degree of warmth, I feel that the room has a quiet, subdued vibe, which is exactly what I had hoped for. It’s a calm, unimposing, and functional space.

How did your budget change between the beginning of the project and the end of the project? Were there any things that really surprised you?

Working within a budget is always challenging, however there are a number of factors that can influence whether or not you exceed it. Having a clear understanding of what you want at the beginning of your renovation is tremendously helpful, as is researching and planning how you will accomplish it. I exceeded my initial budget due to a somewhat last minute decision to lower the ceiling in the kitchen and dining area, and attempted to compensate for any additional expenses through concessions made as I went along. Everything was, otherwise, more or less, as expected. The only deviations in my budget, aside from costs associated with lowering the ceiling, were furnishings. I made a few changes. I decided not to reupholster my old lounge, sold it, and purchased another one secondhand. There were also a small number of small purchases, such as coffee tables and a lamp, which were unaccounted for in my original budget.

Actual Costs


Electrical: $0.00 (a wonderful friend very kindly, assisted me with this)
Plumbing: $0.00 (again, courtesy of a lovely friend)

Design Fees:

Architectural Drafting & Construction Drawings: $0.00 (Thanks to my wonderfully talented friend and architect, Roly Dizon Villapaña.)


Fridge: +$50.00 (I sold my fridge for $300.00, and purchased a brand new smaller one for $250.00) Stove: $0.00 (re-used existing stove)
Overmount Exhaust Fan: $100.00 (Purchased on Gumtree, brand new.)


Faucet: $50.00
Stainless Steel Undermount Sink: $80.00

Cabinets and Countertops:

Doors, &
Countertops: $1801.00


Removal of Existing Carpet: $0.00 (DIY)
Sanding & Polishing Existing Floorboards: $700.00
Carpet (including installation): $900.00


Paint: $225.00

White Gloss Subway Tiles: $150.00
Grey Grout: $10.00
Superfront Drawer Pulls: €236.00 or $355 AUD (including shipping)
Kitchen Oil: $22.50

Other Building Materials:

Original Early 1900s Colonial Solid Wood Door – $50.00 (Purchased on Gumtree)
Colonial Skirting Boards: $280.00
Electrical Outlets & Light Switches: $50.00


Pendant Lights: $150.00

Edison Bulbs: $42.00

Venetian Blinds: $15.00

New Sofa: $300.00

Old Sofa: +$175.00 (Sold)

New Sofa with Chaise: $0.00 (Free – given to me by a family member)

Miscellaneous Furnishings: $99.00

Total: $10,411.50 (AUD)

Lessons Learned

(Image credit: Lorna Ziller )

Now that the project is over and you’re looking back on it, what are the most important lessons you learned through the remodeling process?

Know your limitations. Working within a budget is challenging, and DIY is a brilliant way to reduce labour expenses, however it’s important to be realistic with your expectations of your abilities, and what you will be able to accomplish. Things such as painting or sanding are easy, however for more complicated aspects of your renovation you’re more likely to make mistakes that could cost more money to rectify than if you had used a professional. While saving money is wonderful, DIY can also make things tremendously stressful, and it’s physically taxing, and so reflecting on whether or not the money you save will be worth the potential time and effort involved is important.

Be creative. If you are demolishing a kitchen or bathroom, you may save on labor, or avoid the trouble of DIY, by advertising it for free, on the condition that whoever takes it will remove it themselves. Alternatively, if you do remove it yourself, don’t hesitate to advertise it for a small amount, or for free, to avoid the hassle of disposing of it yourself.

Finally, always allocate a contingency budget. Tracking your expenditure as you go in an attempt to stay under budget is brilliant, but it is, I imagine, terribly rare for things to go exactly as planned. Whether it’s an unpleasant plumbing or electrical discovery, or a last minute change that needs to be accommodated, a contingency buffer will ensure you remain financially stable. If you don’t have one, depending on what arises, you may have to make concessions in your plans to accommodate expenses, and in the worst instance, this may be something important or integral to your vision for the space.