Renovation smarts for your kitchen, bathroom and laundry

By: Alex Fulton

Gem has a loans repaymentGem Visa is all about helping Kiwis make smarter money choices and plan for a brighter future. For Gem, part of that involves bringing experts on board to share their knowledge and smart money tips.

Gem Visa Brand Ambassador and well-known Interior Designer, Alex Fulton, is one of those experts and here she shares her top tips for making wise choices when it comes to adding value to your biggest asset, your home.

Alex knows all too well, just how quickly costs can escalate when it comes to renovations, which is why she’s a fan of Gem Visa’s six-month interest-free terms and its unique shopper’s protection insurance.

Be clear about your budget

I know, I know, no one likes to talk about money but when you are planning a space, it helps when you work to a budget. In functioning spaces like the kitchen and laundry, great if you can put aside a good chunk to the ever-essential stuff like white-wear. A budget ensures you won’t run out of dollars when it comes time to buying the cute interior pieces like taps and accessories.

Identify functions of the spaces you are designing

Break down each space and nut out what you will be using it for. This will help to work out what to put where. Tradies often make assumptions about where things go and what they should look like based on their experience, but if you want to really make it yours, a well-drawn out plan will save you from any well-intentioned guesswork made on your behalf.

Be clear on your design style


I don’t care if you’re a modern classic with a scratch of vintage impressionism or Asian mid-century with a large dollop of English country, the main thing is to know what your vibe is before you approach a builder or a joiner. If it’s too scary to label yourself, dive into a pile of interior magazines or develop a Pinterest addiction and immerse yourself in the world of interiors. Nothing explains what you are thinking better than an image.

DIY vs Paying a professional

As much as my husband likes to think he is handy around the house, there is a definite failure: success ratio that needs weighing up. Getting a professional may cost more initially but if you’re not entirely confident, it can end up being cheaper in the long run. Be honest with yourself about your skills and the level of expertise the job requires. This is particularly important in wet spaces like the bathroom, where specialist skills, like waterproofing, are a must.

Seek alternatives to pricey products

Finding the right price comes back to your budget and having a handle on what you can spend in what area. Take the time to research items that you are quoted on. Could you find a similar item second-hand or on sale? Often going that extra mile will save you more of those dollarios I mentioned earlier. Buying more than one of something like taps or basins? Ask for a discount and see what happens – it’s another smart way of stretching your budget.

Things you need to know

Credit and lending criteria, $240 establishment fee, terms and conditions apply. Gem Personal Loans are provided by Latitude Financial Services Limited.