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109 Sydenham Rd
Marrickville, NSW, 2204

+61 (0)410 32 5575

In every Australian garage is an unloved chair... Little Red Industries aims to find them and completely revamp them to last another lifetime. Great design choices, unique finishes and fabrics and smart repairs combine with a guarantee that sturdiness and a solid structure always come first. If you're after a certain style or something special Little Red Industries can source it for you.

The Reno


Alun Machin

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Where do you even begin to design a DIY renovation that improves the space in your home for everyday living?

 With a plan of action, of course! It helps you focus as you roll up your sleeves to get handy. 

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BEFORE Like many Aussie homes, the third spare room at my house is too small for a bedroom but is a great size for a studio office.

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AFTER I’ve used a three-step method that works for any reno, big or small. It’s all about DIY with a designer eye to make a room function more efficiently while making it more welcoming.

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My three-step DIY method really does work every time. See how it relates to this room.

1 Remove the most dysfunctional factor

Changing the door to a sliding one increases floorspace.

2 Add a practical but modern element

Cladding the new door cavity creates a lovely new feature wall.

3 Improve the experience

Designing built-in shelving creates storage and a display area.

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I teamed up with Porta to do this room reno, They do beautifully milled timber moulding, trim and dowel that don’t need much sanding or finishing. 

For specifics on product names and more detailed how-to steps, head over to the step-by-step spec sheet I put together with them.

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The door swings into the room but keeping this area clear takes up valuable floor space. So replacing it with a siding door will make the room more flexible.

TIP I used a drill to remove the hinges, taking off the lower one first so the door didn’t fall on my head, then removed the strike. Start filling these now as you’ll need to do it in stages to wait for the layers to dry.

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Now is the time to have the electrician move switches and power points. I made the mistake of assuming the switch could simply move to the other side of the entry, but behind that wall was another sliding door cavity with no space for the new switch. 

It ended up outside the room, which is fine for an office, but not so great for a bedroom.

TIP Be aware of what’s on the other side of the walls and have a chat with the sparkie when you book them to check if you need to buy switches or fittings.

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Removing the door also meant removing the trim, so I decided to also replace the wall skirting and window trim with a slimmer, more streamlined profile.

TIP To remove, run a utility knife along the top of the trim where it joins the wall to prevent pulling off the paint. 

Tap a chisel or crowbar into the gap and use a pulling-down motion so the tip of the crowbar pushes into the wall at the base, rather than above, which leaves a mark. 

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When removing my skirting I found the screws attaching plasterboard to the studs, so I marked them on the floor with painter’s tape and left it there right to the end of the reno. 

Knowing where the studs are is essential for attaching the door framing, the shelf, new skirting and window trim, even for putting up pictures. 

TIP If you can’t find them, use a stud finder or ask the electrician to help you when he pops in to move any switches. Sparkies have a knack for knowing where they are!

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To prepare for painting, I ran a scraper around the walls where the skirting was removed, to scrape away paint built-up. 

I filled dents and holes with fast-drying crack filler, starting at the doorway and worked around the room thoroughly so I only had to do it once.

TIP Use a sanding block with 180-grit abrasive paper along the skirting line to smooth out the filler and the paint line.

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Wow, that beige is a stronger colour than it looks. I applied a coat of ceiling paint first, painted the cornices with a brush and used it to cut into the corners of the walls.

Then I used a roller for the wall paint and repeated the full process, doing three coats.

TIP I like using a small plastic-back drop sheet and moving it around the room as I go, but you could put down a full canvas to cover the entire floor.

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I used a Hume Doors cavity system, door and Evolution One Touch system, which is door hardware that, once installed, means simply tapping the door to open it. 

I followed the instructions in the Hume Doors video, which was so easy and lightweight I didn’t even need a second pair of hands to put it together.

TIP Buy the door and cavity ready to assemble with the frame in a standard 75mm or 90mm depth. I used a 90mm, and bought the Evolution One Touch at the same time because it needs installing before the door cavity is covered.

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After positioning the door cavity I set up the dropsaw in the room so I could measure and cut to build the pine frame around it, with extra supports along the top for my feature wall. 

Before attaching anything I found the wall studs to safely secure the framing with brackets.

TIP Be sure to buy 35mm-thick pine framing in the same depth as the door cavity (mine was 90mm). You’ll need about 2.7m each side, 1.8m along the top and offcuts for extra supports.

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I clad the cavity and framing in 12mm thick plywood, not worrying about neat joins as it would all be hidden. 

I like using a small impact driver, which is noisy but it gets those screws in without having to drill pilot holes.

TIP This is where you need a good ladder, make sure your drill is charged and use 25mm timber screws, which are long enough to hold the plywood in place, making sure they finish flush with the surface.

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After working out that my ceiling has a fall of 10 degrees, I figured a system of cutting Porta 30mm half round dowel at the same angle along the top. 

Each stick was a different length so I cut then tested them against the wall before securing.

TIP When designing a feature wall like this, keep in mind the standard length of half dowel is 2.4m. If you have a sloping ceiling, it makes life easier if you plan the tallest full-length piece to be the same.

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I applied a bead of Bondcrete adhesive along one piece at a time, positioning it then pinning with a nail gun.  

To finish, I lightly sanded the wall with 180-grit abrasive paper then coated all raw timber in Monocel Clear Varnish using a mini roller with microfibre cover.

TIP I used a Bostitch gun with tiny pins that were just long enough to go through the side of the dowel and hold it to the plywood while the adhesives dried. 

If you’re using brads or nails with a hammer, make sure they sit below the surface and use a timber filler if you need to hide them. 

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To build the recessed shelf next to the new wall, I used Porta primed 18 x 110mm DAR pine so it only needed painting once when assembled. 

I built it on site, measuring the pieces to fit and securing to the frame and the wall with 60mm timber screws. 

The width of my shelf is 1300mm so I added lengths of 22mm Tasmanian oak dowel for support to prevent bowing, and I like how it ties into the look of the feature wall.

TIP The dimensions depend on your room size. If your shelf is more than 900mm wide, add the dowel supports. I used a speed boar bit (the same 22mm one as for the Evolution One Touch door hardware) to create an indent then secured from the top with 40mm screws and covered them with white Prestige press-in screw caps.

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I clad only the cavity in Tasmanian oak, rather than the entire wall, to give timber effect impact. Framing it in white also keeps the edges neat and ensures the timber doesn’t feel too heavy or dark. 

I painted 12mm Porta Quad Moulding for the frame, buying a 2.7m length to run the full length of the top. 

TIP If your ceiling slopes like mine, make sure you cut the ends of the framing at the same angle so it fits together neatly. It saves time if you set up the drop saw or mitre box with a handsaw and cut it to fit onsite.

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I started with the widest wall, using a drop saw to cut one end of the skirting at 45 degrees to transfer the measurement (from the outside corners), cutting and fitting it to the wall. Then used a nail gun to secure it at intervals into the studs. 

For one wall spliced two pieces and positioned the join where it would be hidden by furniture, butting them and smoothing over with timber filler and touching up with paint.

TIP I set up the primed skirting outside to appky one coat of paint with a mini roller (which is easier than painting inside). 

When cutting, work on the longest wall first, just in case you mess it up and need to cut that piece down for another side.

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It was simple to add the rest of the door hardware, including the rollers, and lift the door into place and tighten it up using the supplied spanner. 

This was super easy to do on my own once I worked out to prop the door on a slim piece of plywood to help me lift it slightly, and stand on a stool so I could reach the top.

TIP Paint the door outside while painting the skirting, doing one side at a time and leaving to dry. I kept my door white to bounce light back into the room when it’s closed, but you could add a surprise pop of colour.

How gorgeous is the Flowering Gum by Roofus Australia? It's a pop of colour and personality, and great Aussie design. 

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Aim to have the home improvement basics that include a drill with drill bits, hand saw, utility knife and drop saw for cutting, a hammer and mallet, screwdrivers, measuring tape and spirit level, crowbar, chisel and scraper, a broom and paint equipment.

It helps if you can use a nail gun with air compressor and brads, a good ladder and vacuum cleaner.

You’ll also need adhesive, crack filler, ceiling and wall paint plus sandpaper and timber varnish, and timber screws for the framing and plywood cladding.

My Front Door Makeover

Alun Machin

Welcome to Little Red’s Reno! This is where I roll up my sleeves to get handy round the house. My coastal home is a dated 1970s weatherboard that needs a total upgrade.

And what better place to start the reno than with the front door?

The aim was to replace the original faux Victorian door and get rid of the banging brown aluminium screen (my pet hate!) 

The aesthetic reason was to upgrade the street appeal and let more light into the living area. 

The practical reason was to change the access to a keyless lock. No more worrying about losing the keys at the beach!


To buy a new doorway and have it installed by a door retailer was going to cost more than $3000.

The old door wasn’t my style but was in good nick, so I decided to shop online where I hoped to find a seller who’d be willing to swap, or at least take away the old door.

So I took the measurements to find a similar size, hit the Home & Garden category of Gumtree and came across this beauty! A brand new merbau door, ready to install and be painted.

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The seller was Cath (above right), the Gummie for Taree Recycled, who sent me extra pics of the door and different styles of sidelights, so I was assured it was a one-stop shop.

I’d planned to DIY the installation but when I went to pick up the door, umm, couldn’t even lift it. Chris the owner (above left) offered to have one of his carpenters deliver and install (yep, he was the fastest chippie on the block!). 

Along with the new 1.2m-wide door and sidelight, the chippie brought spare timber to rebuild the frame. 

For $100 I sold the old door and hardware back to Taree Recycled to join the other items they sell on Gumtree. Everyone’s a winner!


On a recent trip to America I bought some groovy house numbers that remind me of midcentury Palm Springs and inspired the design of my new entrance. Actually I’m going to invoke that retro style for the entire reno!

The numbers are designed using the Neutraface Font by House Industries and the tiles made at Heath Ceramics. I made a special trip to the factory in San Francisco to buy them and the matching teak frame.

To install the frame I measured up, started the holes using a drill bit then changed to a driver for the screws. Always helps if you have good tools and this Bosch PSR Ergo Drill is so light it’s easy to use with one hand.

DIY TIP: Don’t skip drilling pilot holes so the screws go in easily and accurately for a perfectly straight install!

I chose orange to pack a punch and painted the front of the house in tradie white to make it feel clean and fresh. This is my fave colour, called Madras by Porter’s Paints

DIY TIP: Make sure you choose exterior paint with UV protection to prevent fading.

Then I tidied up around the door, installing trim where the frame didn’t quite fit into the wall and painted everything surrounding the door in an exterior matt white. 

DIY TIP: Paint the door jamb step in a hardwearing gloss designed for trims.

My twist on Midcentury style

While I was looking for patio furniture on Gumtree to match my door I came across some other great finds.

These planters with established plants came as a pair for $100. I bought them from Penny, who was moving to New Zealand with her Kiwi hubby and, while they were taking most of their other lovely pots, these were just too heavy. Picked up some green-thumb tips too!

The designer outdoor chair is manufactured by Italian company Gaber, is called Extreme and won the Good Design Award in 2010. It’s a new, not-replica chair shipped from the Melbourne company who import them. Normally $160, I bought two for $89 each plus $60 delivery. They have more!

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It’s nice to be greeted by lots of colour! It turned out that Gummie seller Lucy lived just around the corner and was happy to take $25 for this brand new doormat. She was moving back to the UK with her young family and hadn’t even taken the label off. The original tag says it retails for $69.

I bought the keyless lock ages ago when I started planning the new porch. It retails for $249 but you can buy a similar one for about $150 on Gumtree.


New door, jamb and sidelight with delivery, install and removal of old door
Gumtree $1090 (including $100 for the old door)
Retail $3490 (including door hardware)

One outdoor designer chair
Gumtree $89
Retail $160 

One planter with established plants
Gumtree $50
Retail about $245

Brand new doormat
Gumtree $25
Retail $69

Never-been used, new keyless lock
Gumtree $150
Retail $249


Gumtree $1404
Retail $4213