A home makeover need not cost the earth or turn you grey. LAKSHMI KRUPA speaks to a couple who made magic for a little over Rs. 5 lakh

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s land costs soar, it makes sense to buy a second-hand flat and re-do it to suit your needs. Take the case of architect and interior designer duo Vikram and Lakshmi, who run Golden Section. When they bought a 20-year-old, 500 sq. ft apartment in Adyar, it was a drab, ugly place. They re-did it entirely into a cheerful, modern space, and that within a tight budget.  

1. Carving space

Entering the cramped flat with a bathroom opening off the sitting room and a tiny balcony, the couple knew they needed to open it up. They tore down all the in-built shelves, broke down walls to include both the balcony and the kitchen into the sitting room, and closed off the bathroom door. Next, they sealed the windows in the living room, as there was enough ventilation from the bedroom. “We also installed a really powerful chimney in the kitchen,” says Lakshmi.

2. Living room

Removing the built-in wall shelves created more space, after which the flooring was changed to vitrified tiles to make it more modern. “We also created a 10’ by 16’ feature wall to display Vikram’s toy collection,” says Lakshmi, whose advice is to call in professional paint companies for such work rather than use ordinary contractors. Lakshmi added a quirky touch to her living room by devoting one wall to display her mask collection from Sri Lanka and Bangkok. She also hangs an exotic umbrella as lampshade to create mood lighting.

3. Kitchen

“For the kitchen, we chose a semi-modular option to personalise the space,” says Lakshmi. A half wall separates the living room from the open kitchen. Lakshmi made this wall tiered to create spaces for her bits and pieces. She also used the sill of the living room window that they sealed off to create a little niche where they showcase some of the artefacts they have collected during their trips across the world.

4. Bedroom

For the bedroom, the duo chose wooden laminated flooring. “We didn’t have to break the old mosaic; we just added the laminate over the existing floor and it took just two hours to finish the room,” they say. The flooring is easy to maintain and needs to be cleaned only once in three or four days, compared to tiles that not only have to be laid after breaking the old floors, but also need cleaning every day. They also invested in a bed that has plenty of storage space both as part of the headboard and beneath the bed.

5. Bathroom

The old bathroom was a cramped, damp place. Lakshmi raised one half of the room by a few inches to install the washbasin and WC, with the lower area getting the shower and drain. The area near the WC now stays dry, thanks to the split levels. The walls were painted with a matt enamel finish to make cleaning easy.

6. Smart add-ons

One of the biggest changes the couple made was to do away with tube lights and put in CFLs instead. This is not only on easy on the environment but also on pockets. They revamped the entire wiring, concealing and upgrading it to handle high-tech equipment such as their home theatre. Wiring and plumbing is the most important aspect of a revamp, says Lakshmi. Having done away with the balcony, the couple invested in a drier instead. Interestingly, they have wall-mounted it, thus saving vital space.

 

Get an architect to draw up a new blueprint. You don’t want to break down a load-bearing wall or pillar.

Research before buying chimneys, washers or driers. The wrong choice can prove costly.

Makeovers can be had for any budget. Put functionality first when you make your plans.

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