Assembling the renovated home: unpacking the fluid social and material assemblages of home renovation in Newcastle, Australia

A/Prof. Kristian Ruming1, A/Prof. Kathy Mee2, Prof Pauline McGuirk3

1Macquarie UniversityDepartment of Geography and Planning, Macquarie University

2Discipline of Geography and Environmental Studies, Centre for Urban and Regional Studies, University of Newcastle

3Australian Centre for Culture, Environment, Society and Space, School of Geography and Sustainable Communities, University of Wollongong


Australia has been defined as the “Renovation Nation” (Allon, 2008), where the “great Australian dream” emerges as central to both individual and national identity. The home, in private ownership, has emerged as a key economic resource for owners, many of whom have benefited from a period of prolonged house price growth. The home as both an economic and social/cultural asset has, thus, emerged as a site of ongoing renovation, where changes to properties are seen to improve liveability/sense of home and/or the financial value of the property. In this paper we add to a growing body of literature which explores home renovation in Australia. In doing so, we position home renovation as an assemblage of social and material elements which combine in unique ways to shape the renovation process. Drawing on fieldwork undertaken in Newcastle, we analyse four interconnected forms of renovation: structural renovation; habitable renovation; liveable renovation; and, sustainable renovation. Renovation emerges as a fluid process as homes and home owners shift between the forms depending of the configuration and influence of a diverse set of social, material and economic elements.


A/Prof Kristian Ruming is an urban and economic geographer. His current research explores urban regeneration and renewal, affordable and social housing, urban governance, planning system reform and community participation in planning.

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