From Garage to Granny Flat with GECA: The Final Result

The living and dining area, including GECA certified dining chairs, second-hand couch, repainted white shelving and DIY TV bench The living and dining area, including GECA certified dining chairs, second-hand couch, repainted white shelving and DIY TV bench

This post forms part of our ‘Garage to Granny Flat with GECA’ series – check out the introduction here!

Emma and Andrew’s converted flat is evidence that it’s possible to do an eco-friendly home renovation on a budget – and even to do eco-friendly DIY. The majority of the work was done by their family and friends, with just a couple of professionals called in where necessary.

Check out how the space looked before and after renovations below, as well as tips for how to create a home with a lower environmental, health and social impact.

Before and After: the bedroom Before and After: the bedroom

When buying building and interior products, look out for third-party certification such as the GECA ecolabel. There are plenty of insulation, plasterboard, paint, flooring, adhesive and furniture options available that meet GECA’s strict standards, so you can be sure you’re making a better choice.

For furniture, try choosing second-hand products or make your own wherever possible. There are so many resources out there for finding good quality second hand furniture, from the local op shop to Freecycle.org to Gumtree, or even picking up items from the side of the road during council clean-ups.

Before and After: study area Before and After: study area

Make use of what you already have. Refreshing an old piece of furniture can be as simple as a new coat of paint, or swapping out old hardware for new (such as with door knobs or furniture legs). The Internet is an endless source of DIY tutorials, and you might pick up a new skill!

If you’re sourcing materials for a DIY job, or doing a fitout such as installing a kitchen, pay attention to the credentials of each component. For example, make sure you’re using low- or no-VOC paints. (Again, keep an eye out for the GECA label to ensure the manufacturer's claims are genuine!) Emma and Andrew’s kitchen bench top is made from FSC-certified Acacia wood and treated with a solution of pure tung oil and citric terpene to provide a natural and environmentally-friendly water-resistant finish.

Before and After: the kitchen with FSC-certified benchtops Before and After: the kitchen with FSC-certified benchtops

Choose your appliances based on their energy use and water efficiency star ratings.

When they did have to buy new furniture, the couple tried to go with companies that are demonstrating a commitment to more sustainable practices. “As much as we would have preferred to invest in quality furniture that would last – I absolutely love a lot of Jardan’s designs, for instance – we simply didn’t have the budget for that when we were basically outfitting our apartment from scratch all at once,” said Emma. You always have the option of upgrading to better-quality items later on if existing furniture is no longer useful.

Before and After: the living room, viewed from the kitchen Before and After: the living room, viewed from the kitchen
Before and After: the kitchen and living areas Before and After: the kitchen and living areas
Before and After: the kitchen and fold-out dining table Before and After: the kitchen and fold-out dining table
Before and After: the bathroom Before and After: the bathroom