Lana Taylor, one third of Three Birds Renovations, our new Resident Experts, tells us all about their latest reno success story…
With a purchase price of $1.3m, we risked more money than ever on this four-bedder in Beecroft, NSW. We had to increase its value by at least $350,000 in seven weeks to make it worthwhile. Welcome to Three Birds Renovations’ third reno in 10 months!
For this transformation, we changed the whole floorplan, moved the kitchen downstairs, cut in a void, created a luxury master with dressing room and built an alfresco wonderland in the backyard. Did I mention we did it in seven weeks!?
I could write and write and write about the finer details of this reno but let’s face it – we all just want the highlights package, right?
Biggest transformation – the kitchen
The kitchen originally sat upstairs on the entry level of the house – unfortunately this meant it had no connection to the backyard (a big no-no for any family home). So we knew we had to move it downstairs but that was easier said than done. Downstairs was a dungeon (no joke, I could see the remnants of medieval shackles on the walls). It was a long, dark, skinny space. We had to make that kitchen look as ‘fat’ as possible so of course we employed a lot of white and tried to let in loads of natural light.
We cut in as many French doors as our engineer would allow and to be sure of a bright kitchen, even on the darkest days, we didn’t scrimp on down lights. We considered doing a window splashback, but that only looks good when there’s a lush rainforest growing outside of it. With our barren land, we weren’t going to grow anything in seven weeks! Instead we chose Calacatta Gold Talostone for the splashbacks – they looked light, bright and just like marble. Of course we ‘bookmatched’ them. Bookmatching has nothing to do with a trip to the library (as I discovered in a rather embarrassing conversation with our stonemason), rather it means the veins from the splashback were joined/matched with the veins on their corresponding benchtops. Still not clear? Trust me, it’s cool.
Biggest gamble – the void
A void, by definition, is nothing, but it meant everything to us when we decided to add one to this house. With the kitchen moving downstairs we simply had to lift the lid on the dungeon — so we cut out the floor from the bedroom above to flood the downstairs with natural light. It was our biggest structural change and we lost floor space upstairs, but the new floorplan couldn’t have worked without it. The void (and its African mud chandelier) became the hero of the house.
Quickest transformation – spraying the bricks
Obsessed! That’s what we are with the concept of spraying brick. It’s just too easy and so impactful! We (when I say we, I mean our painter!) transformed the back of this house in just a couple of hours with a tin of paint and a spray gun. Between breakfast and lunch it had changed from a red brick eyesore into a gorgeous Gibraltar Grey estate. Of course the white trims were crucial in finishing the look but the major makeover came from spraying the bricks. Not only is this method quicker and cheaper than rendering, but we love the look of painted brick as it adds texture and dimension to an otherwise flat surface.
Overall winner – the backyard
The backyard proved our saviour! We used it to double the living space downstairs. Inside the house was skinny (have I mentioned that before?) — only 3.5 metres wide — so to make it feel like a suburban family home rather than an inner-city terrace we needed to add width (dare I say girth?), to the living, dining and kitchen. Our solution was to create an outdoor precinct running the length of the house.
When styling, we defined the outdoor zones to show potential buyers how to live in the space. Up one end we built an outdoor lounge pavilion with pergola, at the other end was an alfresco dining area just a stone’s throw from the kitchen, and in the middle we added wow factor with a sunken fire pit (which could easily convert into a sun lounge in summer). Last but not least, we anchored outside to in using our trademark gas-strut window and servery bench – and this is where I chose to sit when we popped the cork on the champers when all was said and done!
Our favourite room – ???
There’s a room in this house I haven’t mentioned – it’s our favourite room ever so it deserves its own post… stay tuned.
Belinda Smith says
Great job girls and you’re right. That void is the hero!
Stacey Johnston says
Fabulous work as always!
I’m amazed at how much you’ve achieved in such short timelines – can I ask, how do you manage the process from the point of view of planning trades, getting council planning permission (if needed?) and design scheme selection ahead of time, such that you can turn around the reno so quickly after settlement?
I’m a bit of a spreadsheet and project management nerd and would love to hear your insights and advice!
Also – can you tell me where you sourced the fabulous kitchen pendant lights?
Erin Cayless says
We use the settlement phase to plan, lock in trades and select finishes. Those 6 weeks are as important, if not more, than the Reno itself. Pre-settlement access (for planning – not actual reno activity) is vital – the more access the better – best to negotiate this with the real estate agent. Determine your floor plan changes ASAP, then get trade quotes, and select your finishes. Council approval can be started during the settlement phase which gives you a great head start. We get our CDCs pretty much done before we settle although official written approval of CDC is only possible post settlement once you become the owner of the property. We avoid doing renos that require a lengthy DA as this would push our timeline out by months.
Hope that helps!
Erin Cayless says
Hi Stacey – sorry I just realised I never told you where we got those pendant lights from – Beacon Lighting x
Henry Vaughan says
Fantastic and very inspiring. One question though,…. How does you painter spray a two story house in such a short period of time? I understand the trim would be painted after but still there must have been scaffolding etc to deal with??
Again a great result and I hope it was fun.
Lana Taylor says
It does seem like an unlikely feat but it was entirely possible. Our painter got his team to mask up all the windows but once that was done the spray job was pretty quick and he used a tall ladder to get up high – the spray gun has a long arm on it too. No scaff needed. We made a YouTube video you can watch of him doing this actual spray job – just go to our YouTube Channel “Three Birds Renovations” and watch Episode 7 – all will be revealed !!
Cheers – Lana
Henry Vaughan says
Sherryl Caulfield says
Congrats. Awesome result in 7 weeks and I love the idea of painting the bricks. I’m off to check that youtube out.
Hey Three Birds – Love your Work!
I find your stuff inspirational.
I also think we have the same brain waves – as I’m looking at a property to buy & was working on a similar reno plan – including the void!
I’ve never been a fan of brick painting – but am now swayed. Keep up the great work!
T N says
Wow!!!! Yet another stellar renovation from these extremely clever ladies!!
I’m just in awe … if I had even an ounce of their talent I’d be jumping for joy.
Lovely renovation! What’s the colour of the timber flooring and where can I get it? 🙂
Lana Taylor says
Hi Sharmin – the flooring is timber laminate in Vanilla Oak from Lion King Flooring. We get so many positive comments on that flooring and it’s also one of the most affordable flooring options on the market. Woo hoo !!
So cool – thanks!
How does the warranty insurance work when you buy, renovate and sell the houses please?
Your work is absolutely beautiful, I love it.
Amazing job girls! You certainly have a talent for transformations! I was wondering if your kitchen was custom built and if so, who made it. I am in love.
Thanks a mil,
Wow this is a truly stunning home!
What a transformation. I’ve loved following you guys on Instrgram.
What is the colour of the kitchen cabinets?
Alicia Callary says
I love the look of the simple small knob on the kitchen cabinets, can you tell me where I could source these as I’ve just installed a white shaker kitchen too!