The Biggest Obstacle for Women Renovators

The podcast for women who want to create income and a life they love through renovating

Join serial renovator Bernadette Janson as she explores the ins and outs of renovating for profit!

Bernadette has over 30 years of experience in the renovating for profit business. She’s a registered nurse, a renovator, a mum, and a teacher.

48 – Budget Styling Hacks

On today’s episode,

Bernadette’s back with Michelle Lewis, and this episode is a result of a conversation on She Renovates Facebook group talking about some styling hacks,  clever hacks to make the job a bit easier and meeting the budget guidelines.


Listen to Episode 48: Budget Styling Hacks


Bernadette covers,

  • A reno project in Adelaide
  • Styling is non negotiable
  • Create an emotional attachment
  • Searching on second hand stores for styling
  • Putting an ad on Gumtree for what you need
  • Blow up mattress as a replacement for a real bed
  • Styling your bed head
  • A bedside light styling hack
  • Applying the five senses to style your kitchen
  • Artwork plays a crucial part in your styling
  • Outdoor styling

Episode highlights

00:48 – A reno project in Adelaide

01:41 – Wynnum project going to market

03:28 – Searching in Pinterest

05:15 – Putting an ad on Gumtree

07:03 – Blow-up mattress

09:23 – Custom bedheads

12:30 – Using the five senses in styling

15:23 – Green Door Decor for artwork

18:24 – Outdoor styling

20:49 – TV hacks

22:27 – Using succulents for styling

23:48 – Styling without the big price tag



“Another thing that I’ve found recently, they say necessity is the mother of all invention is we were somewhere sitting up, didn’t have a bed skirt. And what I did was just flipped over a fitted sheet. Love it. And it just wraps really tightly around.”​


Well, hello, everyone, it’s Bernadette back and I’m here with Michelle Lewis yet again, and this episode is a result of a conversation that we had at the She Renovates Facebook group and we were talking about some sort of styling hacks. And I thought this would be a fantastic topic to get Michelle to talk about on the podcast because I think we both have a few really clever hacks to make the job a bit easier. And, of course, to meet the budget guidelines. So welcome Michelle!

Michelle: Hi, Bernadette. Great to be here. Thanks for having me again. I always love it.

Bernadette: And I am particularly mindful of the fact that you’re in the middle of a project. Do you want to tell us a little bit about the project?

Michelle: Yeah, absolutely. I’ve bought a property in Adelaide in the Blackwood area, Hawthorndene. I’m going to a week full now and hoping to get it done in 6 weeks. See how we go. I’m going away next weekend to Perth. But basically it’s a buy, renovate and sell, pretty much paint inside and out floors. New second hand kitchen. My usual tricks. We have put a deck on this one, which is exciting. That’s the first time really we’ve popped a deck on. But it’s such a beautiful big block. I think it will really be a wonderful add value.

Bernadette: Great. That’s very exciting. Two weeks to market?

Michelle: Yeah. Well, we had a little issue. My husband rolled his ankle playing baseball and I said, “No! Not mid reno!”

Bernadette: Oh, dear. That’s not good.

Michelle: Nevermind. These challenges are here to make us stronger, Bernadette.

Bernadette: They are, Michelle. Well, I’m very happy to say I finally got Wynnum done. So that’s going to market this week.

Michelle: Yay!

Bernadette: We’ll have two on the market, which will be really nice. I’m having a bit of a clearer. So let’s get into the styling.


Well, I’d like to think that most people realize that it’s a non-negotiable these days, that if you’re not going to style a property, then you’re leaving a lot of money on the table. Would you agree?

Michelle: Yes, absolutely.

Bernadette: And the styling, I think, does a few things. It scopes out the space. So it sort of really tells you how big the space is. There’s a bit of opportunity there to change the narrative. You know, if you’ve got a small space. Don’t put too much furniture in it. And it also helps to create that emotional connection, which is really important.

styling hacks


Michelle: The other thing I have done before is put what I want on Gumtree at one time before I discovered blow-up mattresses, which I think we’re going to talk about later. I put an ad on wanted to 2 single bed mattresses, any condition, for styling not to be fit for use. And sure enough, in a couple of days, people are throwing their single beds at me. And that was a free styling tool that I could use to keep or give back. And share with someone else later on. So yeah, that’s a few of my tips.


Bernadette: Yeah, that’s great. Actually, while we’re on mattresses, let’s move into the bedroom. When you were talking about a back-saving trick, I must admit I was on a slightly different tangent. I didn’t. So you actually have a bed and then you put a blow-up mattress on it?

Michelle: No, no, no. I used blow-up mattresses and put milk crates or boxes or whatever you want under it. Oh, yes. A friend of mine in Adelaide here. I helped her start a house and she taught me this trick. And people have said to. I helped her. I’ve coached her to sell that property. And people said to us, “Can we buy the beds with the property?” And we’re like their actually not beds, their actually blow-up mattresses. I think one of them had a Christmas tree box under it. I did send it through some photos, but it did. But they’re all blow-up mattresses and you just set them up at the height of a normal bed, a queen-sized blow-up mattress that cost $25 from Target. Badaboom! Badabing! and you’re done. You don’t have to carry heavy mattresses.

Michelle: People panic about the idea, but people don’t know.

Bernadette: That is brilliant because I must admit we have a renovator in our community who uses euro beds and she gets fantastic prices for renos. I always thought that the euro beds looked a bit odd because they were quite low, but I think yours is a much better idea.

Michelle: Yeah. So the other thing you can put under them, Bernadette is your typical IKEA box shelving those boxes that go into them. They’re almost the perfect height. So I took them from my son’s room sorry, Jordan, and took four of them underneath the blow-up mattress. And then by the time you put your bed skirt around, nobody knows.

Bernadette: That is absolutely brilliant.

Michelle: Just one word of caution.

Bernadette: What if someone sits on it?

Michelle: Well, there’s that, too. But I’ve never seen it happen. But if you get a hole in it, you’d need to have a plan B.

Bernadette: Well, I’m sure it’s not too much of an inconvenience to have a spare on hand. That’s absolutely brilliant because I tend to go for ensembles and I do the same as you. I just find them on that. Well, there’s a guy in Sydney. He says that he has overseas students and he sells off the beds when they go. But I actually think he trades in beds because he always has lots there. Yeah, but he’s. His name’s Donald. And I ring him up and he’ll have an ensemble. He brings it over and does it up the stairs and sets it up for me. Then when I finished I sell them and I often make a profit on them.

Michelle: Yeah. Great. One other place, Bernadette. You can get things from is a hire place. I helped a client do styling at least half of her furniture. We purchased half and we also hired some. Some things that I didn’t have. She wanted a proper bed, so she hired it from a hire place. You can search your local area for that. It could be cost-effective.

styling hacks

Bernadette: Yeah, I think if you’re wanting to manage the costs going to student hires rather than the furniture hires. I’ve done that before. And also they’ll give you shorter terms. All it’s good. So bedhead.

Michelle: Yeah. Look no particular tips here other than I have bulked up the back of my bed with any that I get my hands on a quilt, rugs, pillows that undressed and then I’d dress it on top. And I think you’ve done some similar things, Bernadette.

Bernadette: If I don’t have a bedhead, I usually use European pillows because they’re big. And I certainly did that in Wynnum on one of the bedrooms. And IKEA has some really beautiful velvet feather cushions, although my son tells me they’re very not animal-friendly. So I guess that’s the difficult thing about having these consciences in the house.

styling hacks


Yes, but they also have really lovely velvet European cushion covers so makes the lovely locks fitted. But the other thing I really like making my own bedheads and I can make a king-sized bedhead out of a twin $28 hollowed core door from Bunnings. So that’s something that’s a bit more permanent if you want to use it and keep it.



You’ve talked about getting them from all the usual haunts. One trick that we did : I had some Balinese  wicker pendants. What we did is fitted them with a globe on an extension cord. So rather than having it wired into the ceiling, we actually looped up that cord and plugged it in and hooked it to the ceiling. So it hung like a pendant, but it actually is plugged into a powerpoint. And that was quite a funky look. And it cost nothing.

Michelle: That’s awesome.

Bernadette: Yeah. In fact, I’ve got one of these set up on the Bondi reno. And people have been asking me where I got the light from.

styling hacks
The School of Renovating and She Renovates Podcast with Bernadette Janson

Michelle: Actually, a friend of mine did say to me the other day, Michelle, why don’t you get a wicker basket and turn it upside down? Free kitchen bench areas. And I think that gives a really good shadowy effect in the area.

Bernadette: Another thing that I’ve found recently, they say necessity is the mother of all invention is we were somewhere sitting up, didn’t have a bed skirt. And what I did was just flipped over a fitted sheet. Love it. And it just wraps really tightly around.

Bernadette: You can’t do it with IKEA fitted sheets because they’re not tighter enough. So that’s a great way to get a big bed skirt without actually going and borrowing one if you could.

Michelle: Absolutely. Well, I know what I’ve done. I’ve picked up a cheap king size, which obviously not as popular, and I’ve just adjusted it to fit a Queen, Bernadette. So that’s another happy neat trick. You just tuck it in a bit more and then it’s one size fits many.

Bernadette: Beautiful. Actually, do you get the sewing machine out?

Michelle: No.

Bernadette: I must admit, I do. I really love doing those little finishing touches. In the project we just finished, I actually went and bought because I couldn’t get cushions in the pattern that I wanted. I bought in a king-size coupe cover set and I cut the quilt up and made a tailored bed skirt for the bed, a beautiful blue paisley pattern. And the other thing I did, and I think this was the tip that I showed on the Facebook group was I turned the I got some cushions and I made the cover out of a pillowcase just by enveloping it. A nice way of getting a custom look without having to go out and get custom cushions.

Michelle: Yes. Absolutely. I’ll add to that if you’re not a sewer, things like Velcro or even masking tape for a short period of time work really well. When I was 18, Bernadette, I wasn’t very tall, so I would hem my jeans with masking tape and nobody knew.

styling hacks



Bernadette: I’ve heard of people stapling them. What about the kitchen?

Michelle: I really believe that when people come into a house that you style the five senses or as many senses as possible. It’s important to cover. I remember once an agent had been around to 6 different homes, but when these people came into the house that I had styled and set up that everyone just went, wow, because I had in that particular home, I had the coffee on the table, the smells of the coffee. But the common one that I do. It’s just cinnamon on the stove from your spice mix and then I put it into little pots and put it around the house. Obviously, you need to be careful because it could be warm. It smells delicious. You could do it with nutmeg or any of those flavors that people love.

The other thing is to bake a cake or some bread and I leave it on the bench for people to eat. I love putting some nice pastries on a fancy tiered stand or putting out chocolates. I put a bowl of chocolates in every room. People love it. It gives them something to do. They hang around the house longer. There are lots of positives to it.

styling hacks
The School of Renovating and She Renovates Podcast with Bernadette Janson

Bernadette: Awesome. And the next thing is, of course, usually we’ll have some flowers. And I think you mentioned this, too. I tend to use foliage rather than flowers.

Because the flowers don’t seem to last at all. Oh, this is another thing Stephen goes mad at me for because we’ve got quite a lot of little gem magnolias. I go in and get these lush bunches of magnolia leaves and this is a whole lot of money saving. You’ve got to adopt in abundance mindset.

Michelle: That’s right. There was always more.

styling hacks


Bernadette: Yes. But I did have a friend that had a sneaky little trick where she would use real foliage, but then grab some silk flowers and drop them in. So that made them look real.

Michelle: Yeah, I’ve definitely got a few artificial plants that I use because obviously longevity can be an issue, as you’ve mentioned. With the regular flowers. So I definitely put them in and about the place and it just adds a green. Green is always good at styling.

The School of Renovating and She Renovates Podcast with Bernadette Janson


Bernadette: Yeah, I absolutely agree. Actually, a tip that I learned from one of my students when you are using fresh flowers is when the open is over to actually put them in the fridge. And just put them in some plastic bag or something and they can last ten times longer. Something about a house being shut up that it just kills off anything that’s living. Okay. Onto the next one. Artwork.


Michelle: Yes. I discovered a little place called Green Door Decor. And they’re in Mount Gambier in South Australia. And they will send out prints by Australian artists anywhere. And they have made them in sizes such that you can just go on to Ikea and even Kmart and get your own frames that that’s an option for people. I did that with a client. She actually put me on to this place and we just went through room by room and picked some prints. They came and she tried them and then we put them up together. So that’s a little tip there.

Bernadette: Yeah. That’s a great tip. Thank you for sending that site through to me, Michelle. Of course, there was that came out occasionally have some pieces that you can use. I must admit we’ve got a couple of wholesalers, wholesale sites that we go to for artwork, but it means that you’ve got to be organised and often. I’m doing this on the hot and I don’t have time to be.

But another trick that I have done in the past is framing wallpaper. And also fabric, like wrapping. You know those cheap wall art canvases. And actually getting a decorative, like a fabric that sometimes you can get something that looks hand painted. If you want a big piece, that’s often quite a good way to go.

I absolutely love that. I came out and bought a big circular mirror for about $30. It comes with either a black frame or a gold frame and I’ve been using that in every property because it’s such a nice statement piece.

Michelle: That’s awesome. I need a mirror like that, actually.

The School of Renovating and She Renovates Podcast with Bernadette Janson


Bernadette: They’ve also got a second one now which is more like an arch. I don’t like it so much. They’re called Lux Hex they have a sort of decor pieces for the things and they’ve made a sort of like a group for the the the Kmart mirror. You know sometimes you can get those art mirrors that look like a gate? And it’s really expensive whereas you get about something much more cost-effective. It’s always hard to describe these concepts when you can’t do a visual thing. But I will include a link of the image in the show notes. So for anyone that’s wanting to go and have a look at it. And also, you were talking about pattern and colour.

styling hacks


Michelle: Yes. Whenever I’m styling, I do this weird thing when I go to the corner of the room and I squint my eyes. And so I see that you want to try and make your room balanced in many ways. But one thing is with colours. So you don’t want to completely blend boring rooms, but you also don’t want it to be too busy. You might have a pop of colour with a rug, for example, or a picture or with cushions. You just want to sort of stand back and then balance it out. And also before your photographer comes, you want to take your own photos and have a look at them and see if the pictures balance. That’s just one thing I do.


Bernadette: That’s a clever idea. New one for me. What about outdoors?

Michelle: Outdoors is a tricky one. I had a reno flip that we did in Newcastle. I got to know the neighbor. And I don’t know how we got onto it. But I think it was short of a few dollars, I said to him, “Hey, how about I hire some of your furniture and use it for my styling? I give you a few dollars”. He goes, “Take whatever you want”. I basically went over the fence and picked what I wanted. He helped me carry it back. I borrowed all these outdoor settings, his umbrellas, these big outdoor umbrellas, some beautiful big pots. I bought a few things off him.

Get to know your neighbours. That might not work in every scenario, but it’s very easy to carry something across the fence for a few dollars rather than having to buy it. But otherwise, I go to Gumtree for my usual spots and pick stuff up there. Or of course, my favourite. The roadside. Always have your eyes out on the road, girls, and boys. There’s always something to be found, good recycling and environmentally friendly. The other thing, of course, is the salvage house has massive big pots. They might not be the right colour, but you can just grab some paint and paint it up, and that’ll save you lots of dollars, too.

styling hacks


Bernadette: Yes. And Rustoleum have a line called I think it’s called American accents. They have a stone look, which is really, a can of spray paint can really transform your pot. Picking up on that side of the road.


With every project, I always like to upcycle something. Lately, it’s been a wicker chair. I normally buy mine off Gumtree and I’ll show it in the show notes. The last two I did. I did one for Rennie St., which is black. And then I also did one for Bondi, I didn’t like that one so much, but it was David’s job and he really loved it. The Bondi one, we didn’t paint, we just did it with Penetrol to really bring out the natural sort of luster of the wicker. But of course, I re-upholstered the seats that’s where the sewing machine comes in and seriously they just come up a lot like new.

The School of Renovating and She Renovates Podcast with Bernadette Janson


Bernadette: But some other tips for the garden. One of the things that I also like to do, because we do a lot of apartments is I’ve always put together a pot of succulents, a bowl of succulents because we have a rooftop garden and I have a lot of succulents. It’s very easy to propagate a bowl. Do it at the start of the job so that when the time comes to styling, it’s ready to go. So are there any other things that we should have mentioned that we haven’t?

The School of Renovating and She Renovates Podcast with Bernadette Janson


Michelle: I’m just going to mention my TV hacks. Once again, when I flip in Newcastle, I needed a TV. So I just rang up the local repair guy and said, “Hey, have you got any TV set that doesn’t work that I could borrow?” He said, “No worries, come on down.” So I gave him $50 deposit and borrowed the TV, took it back and got my 50 bucks back. Get friendly with your local TV man and see what you can borrow. Or even if you bought an empty one, it’s lighter on your back again it doesn’t even need a cord on to be plugged in. It’s just the look.

Bernadette: Exactly, because the TV doesn’t ever get used in the open. That’s a brilliant idea. Just a couple more things. One tip that I picked up from Coco Republic, actually, two, when they were styling a property for me. The bathroom, they had like beautiful products. They had a sea sponge in its container, in its clear plastic container, which you could just buy anywhere. And then they had beauty products, but they were empty. It was just the containers that came in. I thought that was quite clever. So just saving anything, because often you have products that you use that have really beautiful packaging, so just hanging onto that.

They did the same in the living room. They had like a chocolate box that actually didn’t have chocolates in it. It was just the really gorgeous packaging. And out on the balcony, some funky mineral water bottles, sort of not your everyday blank ones, something a bit more exotic with some interesting glasses and jugs and lemons and just really trying to create a lifestyle.

The School of Renovating and She Renovates Podcast with Bernadette Janson


Michelle: Yeah, absolutely. Just one final one with the succulents. My kids actually started up a little succulent business. We went up to the off shops and picked up lots of little clear glass balls that were three or four or five dollars each. We popped in some plants and, you know, we were selling some of them sell for $30 each. But again, succulents don’t die so for styling they’re brilliant. You can pop them in and leave them in the project until it sells, which is really easy. They look good.

Bernadette: Yeah, excellent. Actually, I’ve got two more tips. The first one came from my styling friend, Elizabeth. She has got some little hardcover books, which she’s just covered in black and Navy paper. If you’re wanting to put some books on a side table with a couple of decorator items, just a really nice idea.

The School of Renovating and She Renovates Podcast with Bernadette Janson


And the other tip that I’ve got, which I’ve just recently been doing is, you know, how sometimes things get a bit tacky. Like I have an apple, like a metal apple. And you can now buy spray chalk paint and by spraying them with chalk paint. Like I did them white. You get a really nice designer look and things for dotting around the property.

Michelle: That sounds fantastic.

Bernadette: Okay, I think I’ve come to the end of my ideas. I’m hoping that well, I know that there will be lots of things that the listeners can go off and try and to just add and even not even just for selling the property, even just for zhooshing up. It might be an Airbnb. I use these tips a lot on Airbnb as welI. I won’t be doing the blow-up bed, so I’m not complaining about that. There are lots of applications, but getting that style without the big price tag as well.

Michelle: Absolutely.

Bernadette: Well, thank you for joining me, Michelle. I hope your reno continues to go well and your poor husband recovers from his ankle injury.

Michelle: Yes, me too. Thanks, Bernadette. It’s been great.

Bernadette: No worries. Take care. Bye.

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