Townsville Renovation / Before & After

We love a successful “Before & After” at The Home Journal and this recent renovation in Townsville, Queensland shows the ultimate transformation of a drab 1970’s style high set into a fab family home.

If you’re a regular Home Journal reader (or even a newcomer) then surely you have realised by now that I’m partial to a renovation project. And when I say partial, I mean I LOVE renovating. But, renovating is definitely not to be taken lightly, it’s hard work, stressful and can test even the strongest of relationships both with your partner and relatives alike.

Last year my mum expressed the desire to sell her rental property after years of renting as she no longer had the time or energy to worry about tenants or upkeep of the property. So naturally being the inquisitive (or nosey) type of person that I am, I immediately took a trip up to Townsville (my hometown) to check the place out.

Overall I’d say the house was in extremely poor condition and the further we investigated, the worse it got. Being a keen developer, my instant reaction was to bulldoze the place and put three townhouses on it but unfortunately Mum didn’t share my enthusiasm for a project of that size.

As it stood, the house could have only been sold for the land value, as it was virtually unlivable from the stench alone (which I’ll get to) so it was either cut our losses and get rid of it, or spend a minimal amount of money on improving and fixing essential elements and hopefully secure a decent price come auction date.

It’s difficult for me to put into words the condition of the house pre-renovation but I’ll give it a go. The outside wasn’t too bad… picture and two-storey property painted in a terracotta tone with a dark blue tin roof. Not an amazing combination, but definitely looked liveable from the outside. Well that impression quickly changed once I stepped through the front door.

The first thing to smack me in the face was the smell. It smelt like wet dog crossed with decay… not pretty. The house was completely rat and roach infested with both pests having built nests in the walls, and to my horror, underneath the kitchen cupboards. There were also numerous leaks throughout the place so we pinned the smell on the rot from water damage and the rodents that seemed to have moved in for the long haul.

There was very dark and drab timber patterned linoleum on the floor upstairs and very low budget timber laminate downstairs, severe water damage in the bathroom/laundry on the ground level, water damage to the upstairs ceiling from a cyclone, holes in walls with dodgy patching attempts, an awful latte and purpley brown colour palette on the walls and trims, mismatching and broken tiles in the bathrooms, commercial style florescent lights both upstairs and downstairs and the list goes on… So in short, there was quite a bit of work to be done.

It’s difficult to fully understand how the house ended up in such an awful state, but it seemed that every rental inspection undergone had failed to raise suspicion for one reason or another. Who knows, but as you can imagine mum was heartbroken.

Once we got over the initially shock of the property’s state we quickly realised that there may actually be the need for some minor structural work downstairs which would be difficult for me to assist with being based in Melbourne. So with that in mind, we recruited the help of a local builder for the heavy lifting and I project managed from Melbourne with several trips back and forth.

The whole house was treated for pests and the bathroom/laundry downstairs was completely demolished as it was beyond repair thanks to water damage from the ceiling above having not been sealed properly years before. To avoid a repeat of the water damaged and keep costs down this room was cut in half and made into a dedicated laundry space. A new ensuite was built in an adjoining room downstairs, as we didn’t want to completely eliminate the second bathroom. A fresh selection of materials was chosen with a simple white glossy tile for the walls and matte grey tile for the floors. I specified the configuration of the laundry from the DIY Flatpax product range available from Bunnings and selected an off the shelf benchtop, laundry tub and tapware.

The same grey and white tiles were carried through into the ensuite and mum selected a small powder room style vanity and shaving cabinet to ensure sufficient storage. It’s not the biggest of rooms, but definitely all you need in an ensuite.

When we lifted the lino upstairs and boards downstairs we found that the concrete floor downstairs was significantly out of level and so any new flooring we put down would probably buckle and lift. To avoid this, dad poured a self-leveling compound in all the low spots. The flooring selection was important, as there were plenty of open spaces so it needed to be warm and inviting but also feel good underfoot. I opted for a Formica timber floor laminate in Golden Wattle. It is such a great warm, neutral tone and super easy to lay yourself.

Heading upstairs, and the kitchen was a whole new ballgame. It was beyond repair due to water damage and had clearly been mistreated. I virtually replaced what was there with a Kaboodle flatpack kitchen in a similar configuration and Bellini appliances all selected from Bunnings. To keep costs down I selected a melamine flat panel finish in Mocha Latte from the standard range and jazzed it up with a glossy cut to measure laminate benchtop in Crackle Crush. Paired with a high gloss acrylic splashback in Tawny, the change was unbelievable.

We decided that the bathroom and toilet upstairs needed an update to keep it consistent with the new spaces downstairs and this was all done with the same tiles and tapware.

New internal doors and door furniture were fitted throughout along with new air-conditioners in all the bedrooms and living spaces. Each bedroom got a new set of wardrobes which were all bought as flatpacks and constructed by mum and I and then “built-in” by the builder. New lighting was installed both upstairs and downstairs as well as new smoke alarms. Details such as gap filling and staining the exterior deck and interior staircase were also done.

The final piece of the puzzle was the oh so joyous task of painting. A warm white paint was selected for the interior with it all being painted the same colour… walls, trims and ceilings. To improve street appeal mum selected a really soft latte/beige colour for the exterior that would work with the existing dark blue Colorbond roof and guttering.

Once the renovation was complete and the house finally ready for sale mum selected McGrath Townsville to do the honours. Once an auction date was set, I got in touch with local property styling specialists and former Block contestants Jesse & Kenny Mountford of My Handsome to work their magic.

The final result is a very warm and inviting large family home and I’m super proud of mum and dad for all they achieved.

If you have a recent renovation project you’d like us to share then we would love to hear from you. Please email your before and after photos along with a brief description of the project to

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