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Close-up of hands on a wall planner covered in notes and photos
Tackling a big DIY project? Here's an easy-to-follow guide.

1. Make a moodboard

If an overhaul of a whole room is on the cards, a moodboard will help you form a plan. “Moodboards are a crucial part of the planning phase to make sure the colours, materials, finishes and furnishing items selected all work well together and are in line with the overall vision,” says Luisa Volpato of Advantage Interior Design.

Collect paint, fabric and material samples, take photos of things you like when you're out and about, and include existing furniture as well as fittings. Then gather everything together and play about with your findings until you settle on a look you love. A digital moodboard is an option for the tech savvy, or you can create a physical board made from cork or foam. The benefit of the latter is you can place tile samples, paint swatches and more on the board and get a true sense of the colours, which you won't get on a computer screen.

Watch it: How to install and style a pegboard

Timber kitchen benchtop with stools

2. Create a timeline

Set out a prioritised checklist of activities, assigning each a realistic timeline. For example, if you're painting a wall, you might need to factor in time for patching dings in the plaster, or devote a whole day just to prep – cleaning, sanding and taping up – so you can launch into painting the following morning.

If it's a large project, break it down into manageable tasks, and aim to work sequentially – in other words, finish all the preparation first before you move on to the fun stuff, such as painting!

3. Define the scale

Some tasks, including plumbing and electrics, require a licensed tradesperson. Also be realistic about your skills. If you can't manage every task yourself, call in the experts. “It's easier and more cost-effective to bring in a professional early on rather than make expensive mistakes and then seek assistance later,” says Luisa.

Work out when you'll need professional assistance – for example, laying a new floor – and when you'll be tackling the DIY part, like painting the walls and trim. Bear in mind you might want their help mid-project – such as after the messy prep work, but before finishing painting.

Child's bed in a child's bedroom

4. Make a list

Measure your project space, taking note of the dimensions of the areas you need to consider so you can work out exactly what you'll need to complete the task and in what quantities. There are convenient online planners, such as Bunnings' paint and flooring calculators, which can help.

Make a definitive list of everything you need to avoid mid-project trips back to the store. If you're ordering materials yourself, check and recheck your calculations and always order extra – 10 per cent more flooring, an extra roll of wallpaper, for example – just in case. Running out of materials before the end is not only inconvenient, but if you're relying on professionals, it will actually cost you money in your tradies' wasted time. It can also make a visual difference, as Luisa explains: “A plain white tile can really differ from one batch to another, so if you run out and then buy a box from another batch, those new tiles can be a slightly different shade.”

5. Draw up a budget

Assign realistic costs to each item. Make sure to record all your estimated costs and don't forget to include a decent contingency allowance. “Allowing at least 20 per cent for contingencies is smart, because there will always be something you forgot, need or want,” says Luisa.

Pro tip
“Floors and walls are the two biggest surface areas in a room. If a space you're making over is looking tired, that's a good place to start.” – Luisa Volpato, Advantage Interior Design

Start your project today

Check out our D.I.Y. Advice section for a huge range of project and renovation ideas.

Photography credit: Getty Images, Kaboodle and Porter's Paints.


Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.