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Extra Virgin - January 2010
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HomeWhether you’re about to move house, renovate, or tackle that bathroom you’ve been dying to change for years, there’s nothing quite like the prospect of re-doing a room. It starts with...

Every time you close your eyes, you can picture yourself swanning around an immaculate kitchen, pottering from the gleaming sink to the chunky jacaranda butcher block strewn with garden-grown bunches of fresh herbs (funny how in these fantasies we’re suddenly amazing gardeners with perfect manicures).
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Or perhaps you’re sitting in front of a freestanding fireplace imported from some northern country where they really know how to ‘do’ cold, feet nestled into an impossibly fuzzy rug in an impractical pale hue, and sipping on a mug of something steaming…basically, you’ve found yourself in the middle of a photo shoot for the cover of House & Leisure magazine.

The moment you open your eyes, however, you see that the indoor heated lap pool in which you’ve mentally been doing lengths will never fit into the peanut-sized entrance hall of your townhouse no matter how many walls you remove, and affording that much white Caezarstone in the kitchen would only be possible if you made a swift and sudden career change into a life of organised crime. In short, your expectations might be just a teensy bit too high.

But before you despair, take a closer look at the fantasy. Perhaps, rather than imagining a place where you’ll be comfortable and content, this innocent little decorating project has suddenly become responsible for creating a more perfect version of you. It might be a good start to realise that a new lounge suite or a remodelled bathroom will not make you into the ultimate perfect person. Phew, what a relief! Once you chuck that idea, you can relax and have some fun.

Here are a few quick tips on pressure-free decorating:

Ask yourself what little change would make the biggest difference right now?

Adding a window to let in more light?

Re-painting the walls in a colour that doesn’t make you think of school corridors?

Replacing your ancient kitchen cabinets with new, clean ones that are less, shall we say, spongy?

You’ll be astonished how much the little changes can make it feel like your home at last.

Before making structural changes, consider if the cost of the renovations you’re planning will be recoup-able when time comes to sell?

What are the other homes in your area like? It will be impossible to make your money back on a modern graphic masterpiece with a rim-flow pool in an area full of homes aimed at first-time buyers.

Make small changes to improve your quality of life right now, but save the glam plans for the house where you plan to settle.

Start small, put your personal stamp on things, and continue to dream big. Most of all: lay off the pressure. Re-doing a room, much like living itself, is a work-in-progress.