Picking up the keys to their new home on a Friday after work, Ashlea Kerr and her husband Nathan wasted no time in starting their reno. “Literally that night we started pulling down daggy blinds and curtains and painting the house,” explains Ashlea. “We had a wedding to go to the next day and we turned up with paint in our hair and all over our hands, but with the biggest smiles on our faces. We were so excited as first time home buyers and renovators!”
Previously a rental property, the Gold Coast home was in dire need of some TLC. Built in the 1970s, it stood out for all the wrong reasons, thanks to its brown window frames, small patio roof and no garden or fence. However, it had its drawcards, a 3.5 car garage and a pool – so Ashlea decided to look pass the rental look and try to see the potential.
Buying the home for $377,000 in late 2012, the reno they hoped to complete in one year, blew out to two! Spending $100,000, but doing a lot of the work themselves, they replaced all the floors, doors and windows, built a back deck and fly over roof, completely made over the pool and garden, installed a new kitchen, bathroom and laundry, updated the roof and added new internal fixtures. “We often say that the house although built in the late ’70s is virtually brand new,” says Ashlea. “Everything is new – paint on the walls, new floors, roof, gardens, painted exterior – there is nothing we haven’t touched!”
Now valued at $500,000, the couple initially thought they had renovated their forever home, however that was until they caught the renovation bug! “We thought this would be a long-term house for us, but now we would like to purchase elsewhere and do it all over again. We didn’t realise the satisfaction we would get from doing all the hard work ourselves and seeing the changes in the home – it’s great!”
It is for that reason Ashlea is so proud of the kitchen; an area of the home the couple did a great amount of DIY in, and as a result saved a lot of cash. “With our kitchen we went direct to a cabinet-maker and then built the cabinetry ourselves. It was dated lino that is now refreshed with a modern look of Carrara Marble Laminex and white two pac cupboards. We also added a waterfall benchtop to make it look a little grander. It is a small kitchen so we kept the colours light and tried to keep them flowing through the rest of the home. I think we nailed it!”
However, Ashlea does admit her favourite room is actually the one area she left to the trained professionals! “The bathroom is most definitely my favourite. I could live in there! The tiles and fittings are so gorgeous and it turned out just like I imagined. This is one project we didn’t DIY and left to the professionals and I am glad we did, as a lot of work went into it and we wouldn’t have known where to start.”
With two years of work under their belts, the first time renovators have learnt a lot. And their biggest lesson? Be realistic with your timeline! “You have great big expectations that it will be done in no time at all, but you have to still have a life/work balance. There was one point we worked every weekend for three months on our home and at the end of it we were burnt out and exhausted. This was our first year of marriage too – so it was a real test! You have to be realistic and set realistic expectations. A reno is not something you can rush. You don’t want to have to do a project again, you want to do it right the first time.”