Before & After Real Renovation Real Inspiration

An old Melbourne semi gets a makeover – in two widely separated stages. And the second stage happened in super-quick time Read on to see how homeowners Katie and Mick did it, with amazing help from their builder, Matt


KATIE QUINN, from Ireland, met Aussie Mick Davies in Dublin. They married in Sydney and then moved to Melbourne to work. They rented; searched for a house to buy; and in December 2007, for $622,500, moved into their semi in St Kilda East. Built in 1910 in a “mishmash” Art Deco/Mission style, the house needed restumping – its support piers replaced. Apart from that there was nothing structurally wrong with it. So the couple simply made the kitchen useable, painted the walls, bought furniture, decorated, and lived in the house.

 By simply made the kitchen useable and painted the walls, the semi house is now ready for living

By simply made the kitchen useable and painted the walls, the semi house is now ready for living

QUICK CHANGE But in mid-2009 the couple decided they would move back to Sydney to further their careers, and so – suddenly – it was time to renovate in order to rent the house out. With such a short timeframe, the aim was to do as much as possible without having to get council planning permission. The couple hired a mate of theirs, Matt Day, of Day To Day Carpentry, as their builder (“an absolute gem”); the rest of the tradies were sourced via the internet. Reliability-wise they turned out to be a mixed bunch. “Ironically, all of them, except for one, was called Matt,” Katie says.

The couple renovates the house again in order to rent

The couple renovates the house again in order to rent


ACTION STATIONS When the couple bought the house, they knew they couldn’t live with the existing kitchen, even for a few months. So they replaced the cupboards with a temporary budget kitchen from Ikea. A new Rinnai hot water system was also put in, along with the large freestanding fiveburner Westinghouse stove (see opposite). “Mick chose the stove; you don’t see this kind of modern cooker that often in Ireland, but once I started using it I fell in love,” Katie says. The stove would later be repositioned in the grand-final kitchen.

Selected hot water system

Selected hot water system

LIGHT & BRIGHT Two years on, they took out a non-supporting wall to open up the space, took out the ceiling and built a new one, replaced the floors and replumbed. The office/ second bedroom was turned into the kitchen; the kitchen became the dining area. The old kitchen windows were replaced with sliding modern ones from Canterbury Windows. You can also check Me space style.

Making It Home

HOT STUFF The electrician, with plenty of help from Matt the builder – brick houses can be a challenge, it turns out – needed to rewire parts of the house. Central heating was installed to winterproof the home, with ducts in almost every room. Both new bedrooms were carpeted in a good-quality cream woollen carpet (from Carpet Call) that should stand the test of time.

SENSITIVE MOVES It’s a mix of old and new that Katie loves. The couple kept all the original picture rails (see left) and only replastered those walls that needed it. “Where we took out old features we were careful to put in new ones to replace them,” Katie says. Special care, for instance, was taken to install door and cupboard handles true to the spirit of Art Deco, with many parts ordered online through US specialist supplier Rejuvenation ( New era-appropriate doors were ordered from Armadale Doors.

Bathroom BLISS

WHITE ON The unused outside toilet was merged with the old bathroom to make a bit more room. “Still, it was very small space and I wanted to make it look as big as possible,” Katie says. The solution: install narrow oblong white wall tiles and a narrow floating sink instead of a vanity unit to increase the sense of space. “I also really wanted a New York subway look,” she says. The bathroom windows (see left) were replaced. “I did feel a bit funny about taking out the old ones but they would have cost a fortune to repair,” Katie says. She waterproofed the bathroom herself.

Bathroom bliss

Bathroom bliss

A PROBLEM There was a drama with the tiler. He wrote all over one section with indelible ink that proved impossible to remove. “We had to retile it. That’s why I ended up learning how to tile. I did the wall tiles in the kitchen myself.”

THE END Katie and Mick were happy with their reno. There were clashes with some of the Matts, but the work was finished before Christmas, which was the aim. And so, in the new year, they leased out their home, booked the removalists, moved to Sydney and their new jobs – and into a rental. And we can’t wait to see what they do with that.

Me Spaces

Create a warm & cosy zone just for you!

We’ve got six great (and easy!) ways to create a retreat in your own home. Choose a “me space” style that suits you

MEN HAVE long had their dedicated escape space – often it’s the shed. But it can be hard for mum to find her very own “me space” in the family home. The answer? Find an area or nook – or if you can, a whole room! – that you can adapt and decorate as a place just for you.

Home Office

ME-SPACE STYLE A place for home-office tasks, to write, work on your blog, or just to think.

ME SPACE STYLE home office

ME SPACE STYLE home office

HOW TO Create a breakout area with a sleek desk and dress it up. The desk should have drawers so stationery, etc, can be hidden away, leaving the top clear for decorative items that will inspire a productive workflow. Add a comfy sofa with oversized cushions and a snuggly sheepskin so you can kick back and relax when you need to.

creative COOKING

ME-SPACE STYLE A place for enthusiastic chefs, weekend bakers, and everyone who loves testing out the latest cookbooks. Read the list of kitchen stuffs.

ME-SPACE STYLE A place for enthusiastic chefs

ME-SPACE STYLE A place for enthusiastic chefs

HOW TO Organise and decorate the kitchen just the way you like it – don’t think about it as just a boring white space for preparing family meals. Add art to the walls and paint the cupboard doors. Install compartmentalised shelving, as shown here. It’s practical and looks fantastic because everyday items like glassware and cookbooks can become graphic displays. Clear glass jars, labelled containers and ample bench space will keep your kitchen in perfect order.

noise-free NOOK

ME-SPACE STYLE A place to get away from all the racket that comes with kids, TVs, radios and gaming consoles.

ME-SPACE STYLE: peaceful style

ME-SPACE STYLE: peaceful style

pamper PLACE

ME-SPACE STYLE A place to attend to those little luxuries you sometimes can’t find time for.

HOW TO Family bathrooms can be busy places, and it’s no fun doing your nails standing in front of the bathroom sink, so set up a private area somewhere in the house where you can attend to these very necessary things! Keep the colour palette neutral to create a spa-like vibe, and add bright pops of colour through accessories. No room for tables? Place your pampering products and a lovely scented candle on small stools, which can double as seats for when friends pop over for a facial, too, or perhaps when hubbie wants to give you a foot rub!

reading RETREAT

ME-SPACE STYLE A well-lit place to relax and read.

ME SPACE STYLE: place to read

ME SPACE STYLE:  with reclining chairs -place to read

HOW TO You need a chair with arms and a comfy cushion. Arrange your reading zone in a spot where there’s good natural light, and have overhead lighting (here, clustered pendants) for the evening. A warming throw, a snuggly rug underfoot and a side table for your cuppa complete the picture. A “do not disturb” sign is optional!

garden STATION

ME-SPACE STYLE A place to attend to all those gardening jobs you’ve been meaning to do.

HOW TO Instead of the usual outdoor table setting, get hold of a sturdy wooden bench, great for potting and planning your garden space. For entertaining, just dress it up with a cute tablecloth and add seating. If you’ve got a brick ledge, like in this backyard, it could be used as bench seating.

Kitchen Buyer’s Guide

kitchen appliance buyer guide

kitchen appliance buyer guide

We’ve rounded up a super-duper selection of fittings & appliances to help transform your kitchen. Check out these brilliant buys



Blum “Tandembox Intivo” drawer system in Terra Black/Zebrano Wood, with Blumotion soft-closing mechanism. See

your drawers!

select which drawers for your home

select which drawers for your home

Blum “Tandembox Intivo” drawer system in Silk White/Dark Seville Olive, with Blumotion soft-closing mechanism. See


Ultramodern appeal

Teknobili “Oz T2” sink mixer & spray, $429, Reece. WELS 4*

Round the bend

Abey “Sienna” square sidelever, $275. WELS 4*

Great budget buy

Abey “Mix Master” in chrome, $77. WELS 4*

Smooth operator

This kind of kitchen cabinets helps you easier to organize kitchen stuffs

This kind of kitchen cabinets helps you easier to organize kitchen stuffs

KWC “Ono” gooseneck retractable, $1094.50. WELS 5*


A classical sink sometimes make a style for your kitchen

A classical sink sometimes make a style for your kitchen

Old-world charm

Chateau handmade copper double bowl, $2600, Manor House.

Convenience plus

Blanco “Statura” 80cm cabinet 2-bowl undermount (K640U), $1019.

Country-style kitchen

Classic 80 fi reclay double bowl, $1395, Manor House.

Streamlined side-by-side

Clark “Quatro” 1.5 end bowl, $830.55.


Get a grip

Hettich ProDecor “Intra” handle from the Deluxe collection; handles from $5 through Hettich Endorsed Showrooms (see right). See

Black is back

Svep handle in Black, $16 for 2, Ikea.

Classy touch

Hettich ProDecor “Rogivo” handle from the New Modern collection. Team with Hettich InnoTech and MultiTech drawer and runner systems. See for info.

Square deal

10-K-70 handle; handles from $10 each, Freedom Kitchens.


Colourful cooker

Marc Newson for Smeg 60cm pyrolytic multifunction wall (FB610), $2990. Available in 6 colours.

Top of the range

Fisher & Paykel 60cm pyrolytic self-clean single wall (OB76), $5299. Also available as a double.

Bargain buy

Everdure 60cm electric wall (OBES63), $744, Bunnings.

Heats up in seconds

Whirlpool 60cm electric wall (AKZM655IX), $1299.


A variety of fridges for you to choose3

A variety of fridges for you to choose3

Black beauty

Elba by Fisher & Paykel 60cm double wall (OB60BCEX2), $1818, Bunnings.

Bake cakes & a roast at the same time!

Blanco 60cm steam wall (BOSS38X), $2499.

It’s a splurge

Falcon “Professional+ 90” double in Cranberry with induction cooktop, $7399.

Can clean itself

Westinghouse 60cm electric pyrolytic multifunction single wall (POR883S), $2119.

The big freeze

Electrolux “Ebony” side-by-side, $4519, Winning Appliances. 700L capacity. ENERGY 3*

Cool compartments

LG 4-door French door (GR-L219CSL), $3999. 610L capacity. ENERGY 1.5*

Left & right

Whirlpool side-by-side (6WSC20C6XY), $2499. 608L capacity. ENERGY 2*

Style at a lower price!

Smeg “FAB 28” single door, discounted to $2690 (usually $3990) at participating retailers until end of 2011. 271L capacity. ENERGY 2*

Vertical fridge

Westinghouse single door (WRM3700WB), $1319. 370L capacity. ENERGY 1.5*

Thirsty work

Fisher & Paykel Ice & Water bottom mount (E442BRXFDU), $2359. 442L capacity. ENERGY 1.5*

Stylish & smart

Mitsubishi top mount (MR-560B), $2499. 560L capacity. ENERGY 2*

Budget beater

Haier top mount (HTMR48055), $999. 475L capacity. ENERGY 2*


Easy on the wallet

Everdure 90cm gas 5-burner (CBGS91), $698, Bunnings.

Hot deal

Bellini 60cm ceramic 4-burner and 60cm electric oven Builder Pack (BP460EC), $693, Bunnings.

Pristine finish

Whirlpool “Ixelium” 90cm gas 5-burner with specially treated stainless-steel finish (AKT925/IXL), $1149.

Handcrafted in Italy

Ilve “H-series” gas 5-burner (H90SD), $3099.


Quality & compact

Fisher & Paykel 6-place-setting single DishDrawer (DD60SDFX6), $1059. ENERGY 3* WELS 4*

Chunky looks

Samsung 12-place-setting (DMS400THX ), $1099. ENERGY 3.5* WELS 4*

Fab for large families

LG 14-place-setting (LD1419T2), $1149. ENERGY 3* WELS 4*

Colourful clean

Smeg “Retro” 14-placesetting (BLV1), $3999. Available in 8 colours. ENERGY 2.5* WELS 3.5*

Optimal water-efficiency

Bosch built-under 15-placesetting (SMU69M05AU), $1999. ENERGY 3* WELS 5.5*


Haier 12-place-setting (HDW300SS), $599. ENERGY 2* WELS 4*

Curvaceous canopy

Everdure 90cm canopy (RBES92), $479, Bunnings.

For added mood lighting

Miele “Lumen Decor” canopy (DA6290W), $3199.

Sleek & slimline

Fisher & Paykel 90cm wall canopy (HC90DCXB1), $1549.

Mother of all rangehoods

Ilve “Epsilon” for kitchen island, $11,349. Winner of a 2011 Australian International Design Award.

Under the hood

Whirlpool 60cm slide-out (AKR640WH), $249.

Scandinavian minimalism

We won this kitchen! Emma and John entered our Win an Ikea & Whirlpool kitchen competition last year – and they won! Here’s the big reveal

Win A Kitchen Makeover & Furniture

Win A Kitchen Makeover & Furniture

Win A Kitchen Makeover & Furniture

A lot of readers entered our “Win a $30,000 kitchen makeover from Ikea and Whirlpool” competition from the April 2010 issue – thousands of you, in fact. After an agonising and lengthy judging session – so many great entries! – the winners were decided upon: Emma Simmons and John Debono-Cullen of Ashbury in Sydney, who run their own retail art gallery and graphic design business, Sweets Workshop (Sweetsworkshop. com), in the nearby suburb of Summer Hill.

About Emma and John’s home

Their home, built in 1916, is a traditional workers’ cottage. It’s a great house, but there was one big problem: the kitchen was terrible. “It was very small and dark, with only a tiny work area,” Emma says. “The rest was filled with a large fridge and oven. It didn’t have a pantry or nearly enough storage.”

Their problem with cooking place

One of the biggest problems was that the couple love to cook together but the layout wouldn’t allow them to. The rarely used dining room, however, was three times the size of the kitchen and had a skylight. So when they found out they’d won the competition, they were overjoyed. But put a new kitchen in that tiny space? No way!


The kitchen in their house is small for the two who both love cooking

The kitchen in their house is small for the two who both love cooking

The solution for their kitchen

The solution: swap the kitchen and dining rooms around. Time to get planning!

“Choosing the kitchen, dining table & chair set, and appliances involved a series of visits to Ikea,” Emma says. “They supported our idea to move the kitchen into the dining area to create a larger cooking space. They also helped us plan our kitchen, and gave us guidance on the fitout.”

So why has it taken so long for real living to feature the new kitchen and dining room? “Working with a 100-year-old house that hadn’t been renovated since the 1950s opened up a can of worms,” Emma explains. First it was a series of no-show tradesmen, which threw their timeline out. “Then, once the plumber had started on moving the pipes, we discovered that half the flooring was rotten. This caused more delays while we got the floors replaced.” Then, once the electrician had positioned the powerpoints, some of the walls started crumbling, and the couple had to call in a plasterer. Groan. So the Ikea installer was continually put on hold.

But it was all worth it, and winning the competition freed up funds for swapping the rooms. “Now we look forward to Sunday, when we can prepare a slow roast together, ” Emma says. “We spend hours in the kitchen and relish our time there.” Congratulations guys!