Deanne Jolly takes us behind the scenes of her latest renovation project, a charming family home.
Who lives here: Interior designer Deanne Jolly; her builder husband, Darren, and their daughters, Scarlett, 10, and Lily, 8,
had intended to live here but their situation changed and this house became an investment property.
Style of home: An updated worker’s cottage in Kew East, Victoria.
Timeline: The renovation took 11 months from start to finish.
Cost: The makeover came in at just under $1 million.
Darren and I had just finished The Block when we started looking for a new project. Darren had become a registered builder so we were really keen to start our business and get stuck in.
The original worker’s cottage was on a 700-square-metre flat block in a good street, close to decent schools. It was in a poor state though; the place had been empty for five years and the possums, rats and the garden had taken over. But the house was in a good position and I could see that there was enough room at the back for plenty of scope. We had to move quickly because there was plenty of interest, but we purchased it for a good price.
We bought it in June 2015. Because no-one had been living in the home when it sold, the vendors kindly let us have access prior to settlement so we were able to clear it out. We were really lucky with council; we had permits within two months.
The design stage was pretty fast. I worked closely with Jane Merrylees of Merrylees Architecture; we were on the same page, so we quickly decided out what we wanted to do with the floorplan. We considered the modern family lifestyle and included plenty of storage, living zones where everyone can be together but also enjoy some privacy, and created a central space that would be perfect for entertaining family and friends. We added a cathedral ceiling in the new living/dining/kitchen area, which would create a sense of space and offers a point of difference.
The biggest surprise was just how bad a state the original house was in. We knew it wasn’t great but even the bones were decrepit. We were given permission to knock down most of the house but had planned to keep the facade. One of the reasons we wanted to buy the house was that it had period features, so we had a heritage advisor come on site to see what needed to happen. The house is not a listed home but it’s in an area with a heritage overlay so we respected that.
We took out the doors, windows, tiles and bricks and had them all sent away to specialists to be restored. All that was left was the shell of the facade – it was rotten and termite-infested so we had to take it down. After a retrospective planning permit was issued, we re-created the facade around the restored original features.
Darren built the entire house. He had a chippie working with him and there were subcontracted trades. He built everything, which is good not only because it saved us money but because he’s a perfectionist like me and his attention to detail is amazing.
My concept for the home was that I wanted to feel as if I was on holiday at home. I love it when you go away and you’re excited to be in a space that you can relax in. We had been on a beautiful holiday to Hawaii with our girls and we stayed at an amazing resort so I wanted to re-create that feeling. Wrapping the house around the pool so that it could be seen from the kitchen, living and dining area, as well as the bedrooms, was a way to achieve that.
We’ve now settled into a rental property and everyone’s happy, so we’re looking at staying here for a couple of years and doing a few more renovation projects – I’m ready and raring to go!
Deanne’s tips for renovating a property to sell
1: Think about your buyer and don’t get caught in the trap of choosing things you love. Make the bones of your house as nice as they can be. Go for classic and timeless appeal so people can imagine their own things in there.
2: Work out the budget and make sure you don’t go crazy! For us, in a house in this price bracket, I could have fun with lighting and buying the right cushions for the window seats because those elements take it to that next level. You have to be sure that you’re ticking the boxes you need to tick without looking stingy but finding the balance between that and going too far.
3: People underestimate the importance of good landscaping and how much people appreciate it. It makes the house feel finished to get the driveway done and nice grass laid. If you don’t have the budget for mature plants, have the garden beds set up with some planting so buyers can see it’s going to grow into itself.
Take a video tour of the home here: