The West

Picture: Robert Andary Architecture/Silvertone Photography

Updating a wet area needn't be a five-figure job.

From paint to handles or elbow grease, here are 14 easy and affordable ideas to spruce up these rooms in a weekend.

1. Glen Robinson, from Beacon Lighting, suggests replacing boring or daggy kitchen lights with eye-catching pendants and practical downlights. "After the cooking is done it's nice to be able to turn off some of the lights and set a more relaxing ambience," he says. Budget around $100/hour to have an electrician install them.

2. If you like your kitchen cabinets but can't stand your benchtop there are options to make it over without having to rip it out, according to cabinet-maker Paul Lings, of Symmetry Cabinets. He recommends re-laminating or, for a more polished look, having slim engineered stone installed on top (for around half the price of a thicker new one). Masters' Matthew Robertson says DIY countertop coating systems (such as the Rust-Oleum Countertop Transformations Kit) are another great option for tired, worn or damaged tops. "In five easy steps you can restore your surfaces at a fraction of the time and cost of a complete kitchen reno," he says. Hardware stores also stock inexpensive ready- made benchtops from as little as $199.

3. A bit of elbow grease and less than $10 is all it takes to bring new life to discoloured bathroom and kitchen grout, according to Mr Robertson, who says a soft-grip, stiff-bristled grout brush, a front scraper and household bleach or Jif Cream are all you need.

4. Time for new taps? It's easier to swap like for like when replacing a traditional three-piece set but if you have your heart set on a shiny new mixer, licensed plumber Jaymie Sims, of J & R Sims Plumbing & Gas, says a simple and affordable option is to fit the mixer in the middle hole and plug the other holes with caps, which should only take about an hour. Expect to pay from $100-$1000 for a mixer and at least $60/hour for a licensed plumber.

5. "Showerheads can be easily replaced and your licensed plumber will be able to advise you on the simplest way to do this, especially if you are looking to change from an overhead shower to a rail shower or vice versa," Reece's Belinda Geels says. While the government is still offering a swap-your-showerhead initiative, she recommends consulting your local bathroomware retailer to find the most cost-efficient and waterwise product.

6. You don't need to rip up your tiles or lino to give new life to your kitchen floor - simply hide it under floating flooring, suggests Mr Robertson. "First you put down a foam, sound-insulating underlay and then directly on top of this sits laminate, vinyl or wood flooring," he says. Bunnings flooring and window furnishings buyer Brad Lawrence says another option is to lay vinyl tiles, which he says are durable, affordable and easy to install.

7. Wall-mount bathroom furniture to modernise and give a feeling of space to cramped bathrooms, says Gro Agencies' Cameron Burbridge. "Before deciding on wall-mounted furniture you need to know where the waste pipes are located," he says. "If it's through the wall there are no real problems but if the waste is in the floor, you will need to check with your plumber to see if the waste can be positioned in the wall." Mr Burbidge says you can hang the vanity yourself but always get a plumber to hook up the connections.

8. If your kitchen cabinets are in good shape but don't cut it in the style stakes, give the doors a coat of paint, recommends Mr Lings. "If it's just the colour that you're not happy with, and the doors are in good nick, a lick of paint is the easiest and cheapest option," he says. For worn doors, Mr Lings says it's best to get a cabinet-maker to measure up, make and fix new melamine doors to the cabinetry "carcass" or provide the hinges for you to hang them yourself.

9. Stuck with an ugly, old-fashioned toilet? If the seat is a standard size, then it's a fairly simple DIY job to swap an old toilet lid and seat for an off-the-shelf one from hardware or bathroom retailers, according to Mr Burbridge. "Take some pictures of the complete toilet suite including the pan and cistern as well as a template of the seat into the hardware or plumbing store and pick a new one - installation is generally very easy just by tightening some fixings," he says. Prices range anywhere from under $10 for a basic one to up to $300 depending on the brand and its features.

10. Replacing handles is an inexpensive way to spruce up a tired kitchen, according to Mr Lings. "Choice can be limited to size if you're just swapping handle for handle but if you're painting doors first, you can patch over the hole and go for a completely different size," he says. He says an average-size kitchen usually has 20 handles, with handles costing anywhere between $5 and $30 each, meaning a replacement job could cost as little as $100.

11. If it's time for a new splashback but the budget won't stretch to ripping out the old one, Mr Lings says you can simply resurface it. While a sheet of glass is the costlier option (around $1500-$2000), Mr Lings says it's a good place to invest - though acrylic or ceramic finish sheets laid on top are another option. Revive Design's Fiona Hutchinson says another option is to paint over a tiled splashback with a specialised tile paint (a job that would cost less than $100).

12. "A paint job is the quickest and most cost-effective renovating job that can provide an instant lift to your kitchen or bathroom," says Bunnings paint buyer Mick Heanue, who recommends choosing a paint formulated to resist mould, mildew and fungi.

13. Make over your bath or basin with a re-enamelling product, such as Rust-Oleum Specialty Tub & Tile Refreshing Kit, which Mr Robertson says can be applied to ceramic, porcelain or fibreglass. "It acts and looks like porcelain and ceramic and will make a tub, tile or sink look like new in less than one day," he says.

14. "Giving the kitchen a quick clean and makeover can be as simple as repairing cracks, scratches and dents with timber filler in a matching colour, then sanding it down until it's smooth," Bunnings kitchen buyer Andrew OpdeCoul says. "For timber cabinets and fillings, a quick coat of varnish will have the area looking new in no time."

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