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How to do a reno using recycled materials

How to do a reno using recycled materials

If you, like many aspiring first-homebuyers, have considered securing a regional shack as a way to enter the market, the prospect of spending money on a renovation might put you off. But if you’re creative, you can do it on a shoestring. Take Tim Gauci and his partner Nicole Langelier. After buying a rundown cottage in the Hepburn Springs — Victorian spa country — they set themselves a challenge to refurbish it using as many recycled and repurposed materials as possible.

Welcome to La Villetta

After purchasing the rundown shell in January 2019, their little getaway, La Villetta, is now complete. ‘Most of the fixtures and fittings are recycled: island bench, range, fridge, tiles in the wet room, kitchen and ensuite,’ Tim says. Even the internal doors are salvaged from the local tip. In addition, most of the structural timber is recycled. ‘It came up exactly as we had hoped. Rustic. Perfectly imperfect,’ he says.

Hell yes, that ‘perfectly imperfect’ fireplace (Photo:  Dylan James )

Hell yes, that ‘perfectly imperfect’ fireplace (Photo: Dylan James)

Un-planning your interior

According to Tim, the key to renovating with pre-loved materials is not to have a specific plan. ‘Rather, find key pieces that are in line with the look you are going for,’ he says. It’s the flexibility that enables you to save. For example, the couple managed to score a $4800 benchtop with sink for just $350, so they made the island bench to suit it.

But how do you get such a find? Tim says Facebook marketplace, Gumtree and hard rubbish collections are the places to get an absolute steal. He explains that heaps of people buy things then decide they don’t suit and advertise on social to off-load the unwanted wares.

Second-hand score

That includes a stack of things you might not expect: tapware, vanities, sinks, bathtubs, ex floor stock toilets, lighting, doors and even whole sets of kitchen cabinetry are up for grabs if you’re prepared to scour sites. The biggest saving is often found in large pieces of discarded timber. ‘Solid timber can be sanded and sprayed — instant Hamptons-style kitchens, light fittings, window furnishings and flooring,’ Tim points out.

Discarded timber is your friend. (Photo:  Dylan James )

Discarded timber is your friend. (Photo: Dylan James)

Finally, if you’re not a professional builder, Tim says it’s a good idea to ask your tradie if the items you’ve found will fit and ensure they are useable.

With the budget renovation completed, the value of their property has improved by 35 per cent. The pair plan to keep it as a weekender and will occasionally put it on Airbnb for approximately $400 per night. They’ve worked out that leasing it for just 45 nights per year will cover their costs. There’s nothing second rate about that.

Those porch tiles. (Photo:  Dylan James )

Those porch tiles. (Photo: Dylan James)

See how Tim and Nicole’s renovation played out over at Design + Diplomacy Melbourne

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