How much does it cost to renovate a dining room and what design factors do you need to consider? Find out here.
Summary: A dining room renovation can cost as little as $1,500 or as much as $20,000.
The final cost will depend on how much you choose to spend on the various areas: walls, windows, ceilings, cornices, lighting, floors, heating and furniture. Read on to find out more.
The dining room is one of the most important rooms of any home. Not only is it the place where the family comes together for a meal and to chat about their day, it’s also a place you entertain friends and other guests.
With this in mind, a dining room needs to be a perfect combination of style and substance, ideal for entertaining on special occasions, but also able to withstand the wear and tear of day-to-day use.
So what do you need to think about when renovating your dining room to create a beautiful and functional space? And how much will the average dining room renovation cost? Read on to find out.
Formal dining room vs open-plan living
A formal dining space that is a separate room is becoming an increasingly rare commodity in Australian homes. According to Cherie Barber, founder of Renovating For Profit and a professional renovator for over two decades, formal dining rooms are becoming obsolete.
“These days, the dining room is more often part of an open-plan living/dining/kitchen arrangement, and the key here is to make sure it all flows together as one coordinated space – i.e., try to pick the same flooring and colour palette throughout,” she says.
“Your biggest expense is most likely your furniture, especially if you’re buying a rug and a six-seater table and chairs. You could also lash out and buy a very special feature light.”
However, the biggest expense you incur will depend on the nature of your project. For example, you may need to install completely new flooring, which can be pretty costly in a premium renovation. Or maybe you need to add a heating/cooling system.
If you’re including a rug, make sure it’s large enough that the chairs still neatly sit over it when pulled out. In an open-plan setting, you also need to think carefully about where you place your dining table and chairs, as it can have a major impact on how traffic circulates through the space. “For example, placing it against a wall versus placing it in the centre of the natural path of traffic will completely change how people perceive the space and also the options for where other furniture is placed. It’s a good idea to draw up a floor plan, with all the furniture mapped out, before you go shopping,” Barber says.
How much does it cost to renovate a dining room?
As with any renovation project, costs vary substantially depending on the size of the room being renovated and the standard of finishes and furnishings you want to include. A premium dining room renovation, including new furniture, flooring, lighting and extras, could cost anywhere from $12,000 to $20,000.
However, you could also achieve quite impressive results on a much smaller budget. For example, with a budget of just $1,500 you can patch and paint the walls, doors and ceiling, install a stylish pendant light as a point of interest, freshen up the curtains and carefully choose a few decorative accessories, all of which can create a stunning transformation.
Let’s take a closer look at which areas of the dining room you should focus on and where you should spend your money.
A new coat of paint is an easy way to transform any room. “Painting is the cheapest and most powerful improvement you can make to any room,” says Bernadette Janson from website The School of Renovating.
“The walls should be the blank canvas for your personal style and decor, so neutral is best. We love the soft warm grey of Dulux Ghosting (full or half strength). For an elegant look, match this up with ¼ strength for skirtings, doors and ceiling. If you want your colour scheme to “pop”, go for white trims – ¼ strength Dulux Lexicon is a good white.”
For a low-budget or standard dining room renovation, a patch and paint job can make a huge difference to the look and feel of your space, for just a few hundred dollars.
For premium renovations, Janson has a few clever suggestions to create an elegant and sophisticated atmosphere:
- Hamptons-style panelling
- Timber veneer feature wall
- Luxury look using textured wallpaper
- Architectural wall niche or recess
“Windows are an expensive item to replace,” says Janson. “Often a fresh coat of paint and updating the window dressings is enough.”
Don’t forget to consider the outlook from the window. If you are looking onto a fence, for example, Janson says you could pretty it up with a trellis with an espalier and some fairy lights for night time magic. Cost: $200.
“If you are looking onto a verandah and you have the budget, you might think about replacing the window with multi-fold doors to bring the outdoors in, or French doors so the indoors can spill out.” Cost: $5000–$10,000 installed.
Low-budget and Standard
- Off-the-shelf curtains from Spotlight
- A simple pelmet constructed from 18mm MDF ($33 per 2,400 x 1,200mm sheet plus installation) spanning the width of the room and painted in wall colour is a clever way to get a high-end look on a shoestring,” Janson says.
- Plantation shutters $300–$500 per square metre
- Custom-made curtains and pelmets $3,000–$5,000
The ceiling is an area sometimes neglected by renovators, but some simple touches can make a big difference to the quality of the finished room. “Make sure the ceilings are painted with the ‘mattest’ of matt paint. Any level of sheen will show every imperfection in the plasterboard and will look shabby,” Janson says.
Four-litre tins of ceiling paint range from around $40–$75.
- Patch and paint existing ceiling and cornices
- Remove existing cornice and square-set the joint between the wall and the ceiling. Cost: $350
- “Depending on the style of your dining room, a coffered ceiling might be the ‘wow’ that you are looking for,” Janson says. Cost: $5,000+
Great lighting makes such a difference to any room and is crucial to creating the atmosphere and ambience you want. “It can add an ethereal quality while being quite a cost-effective value-add,” Janson says.
“Hanging a statement pendant light over the dining table not only provides a good level of light but also creates a lovely focal point for the room. Go for warm globes to infuse a sense of warmth and ambience into your gathering around the dinner table; daylight and cool globes tend to make the atmosphere too clinical.”
- Lighting: $200. “A single pendant light fitting is the most cost-effective way to address the lighting and there is such a huge range of fittings you can find something fantastic in any budget,” Janson says.
Electrical control. Clean up existing switches and power points
- Lighting: $1000. LED Downlights ($25 each) and/or a pendant light fitting ($300)
Electrical control. New light switches and power points in classic white (e.g. Clipsal 2000)
- Lighting: $1,500+ Downlights and pendants; accent lighting including wall washers and/or pelmet lights
Electrical control. New light switches and power points. “Clipsal Saturn is a state-of-the-art range of backlit glass light switches and power points that elevate the quality of your reno. You might also want to think about intelligent lighting control that integrates a motion, sensor and dimmer, or go to the next level with a home automation system such as CBUS,” Janson says.
If you have an existing hardwood floor in the dining room, sanding and sealing it is the most cost-effective finish in any budget. But if your existing floors are not suitable, Janson says the flooring is likely to be your biggest expense. Her suggestions for the best flooring options are in the table below:
- Floating laminated floor. “While a laminated timber floor is technically not timber, the products are so good these days that it is very difficult to tell the difference. Go for the widest board you can and a minimum 12mm thickness for a quality look,” she says. Cost: $40–$50 per square metre installed.
- Floating laminated or engineered floor. “The next step up is still a floating floor board but with a 3–4mm timber veneer. Once again, go for a wide board.” Cost: $100 per square metre.
- “If you have the budget go for the widest board available, which can be as wide as 250mm, or a recycled timber board in either engineered floor or solid timber direct stick flooring.” Cost: $150–$200 per square metre installed.
The most cost-effective way to heat and cool any room is a reverse-cycle split system air-conditioner, either as a standalone unit ($2,000 including installation) or as part of a ducted system.
In older homes, you may have an existing fireplace which you should preserve. “Original features are always very desirable but unfortunately a fireplace is not an efficient means of heating,” Janson says, explaining that you have a choice of what to do next.
“You can choose to keep and use the existing fireplace for the added ambience of a crackling fire, or you can install a more efficient system such as a Gas Jetmaster ($3,000–$5,000) into the surrounding for the best of both worlds.”
Furniture is the last item on the list but is also one of the most important considerations. The first thing you’ll need is a table and chairs, with prices varying greatly depending on the size and quality of the product you choose.
- Four-seater table and chairs: $150–$350; six-seater table and chairs: $300–$800; eight-seater table and chairs: $800+
- Four-seater table and chairs: $400–$800; six-seater table and chairs: $700–$1,400; eight-seater table and chairs: $1,400+
- Four-seater table and chairs: $1,000+; six-seater table and chairs: $2,000+; eight-seater table and chairs: $2,500+
Depending on your space, you may need a sideboard or buffet. Prices again differ substantially according to the size and quality of the unit, so you can expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $2,000.
The final major item you may need is a rug. Make sure to shop around and keep an eye out for sales to help you find the best possible deal.
Alternative options to increase profit
As dining areas increasingly trend towards open-plan to accommodate today’s more relaxed living style, most modern renovations will follow this style.
As Barber says, this trend can also help increase the value of your house: “If you do have a formal dining room, and you have enough space in your existing floor plan to incorporate an eating space into your living/kitchen area (you may need to take down a wall to open up the space), then it might be possible to convert the formal dining room into another bedroom. That can add great value if you’re renovating for profit.”
You could also convert a dining room into an additional bathroom, home office or living area, and again add exponential value, Janson says.
However, she does offer a word of warning: give some thought to how it works with the floor plan of your home. “Avoid having bedrooms and bathrooms opening directly off living rooms, and try to maintain the flow of the floor plan. A renovation will add the most value when it blends with the rest of the house so that there is consistent colour, style and finishes throughout.”