“You can’t be what you can’t see,” says Lauren. “The more you see other women getting out there and giving it a go, the more others will start to think that maybe they can do it too.”
Lauren and Sarah, known in the Bunnings Workshop community as @DIYgals, are renovating their home in the western suburbs of Adelaide with a series of projects they’ve been tackling since purchasing the property two years ago.
“We are slowly trying to renovate and add to it, and our hope is that we are able to do most of the work ourselves. Luckily, we make a great team, Sarah being the main designer and I, the general labourer,” says Lauren.
“There’s nothing more satisfying than looking at something you have made or fixed and being able to proudly say, ‘I did that.’”
After meeting through mutual friends five years ago, Lauren and Sarah have travelled together across Australia, but their favourite place to spend time is still the beautiful wine regions and beaches of South Australia. Lauren heads down to her local beach for early morning stand up paddle boarding with their “white fluff ball” dog, Sydney. “It’s a great way to start the day.”
Lauren has been renovating her own homes in Adelaide since she was 18, giving credit to her “lack of money” and “being open and willing to learn” as motivators for getting started.
“The projects were initially small, and I could do little damage if things went wrong. I started with painting, removing wallpaper, patching holes in walls, resurfacing kitchen cabinets, tiling, and fixing toilets.”
Both working in education by day, Lauren and Sarah took on study in cabinetry and woodworking at TAFE in the evenings to develop their skills after purchasing their home together.
“Slowly we moved onto bigger projects like the deck and pergola. With each project we’ve gained more confidence and knowledge to try something bigger and better.”
“We both grew up with parents who did a lot of the work on their own homes themselves, so they probably had a large influence on us. I remember doing little projects with my Nanna when I was little like making a timber display box and cutting it with a hand mitre saw.”
When she’s not working on her home, Lauren teaches students how to use the tools and machines at a local high school.
“I’ve been a teacher for 10 years. A few years ago, the Technologies Coordinator at my school encouraged me to do the training to move into the subject area because he noticed I liked renovating my house.”
“It's the best career move I’ve ever made. I’ve upped my skills at work in order to teach students, and it’s transferable to our D.I.Y. projects at home. Win-win.”
“It’s really rewarding seeing my students super proud of something they have made themselves. I hope that, if anything, my students can leave my class with a little bit more knowledge and confidence to give something a go themselves at home.”
Lauren reckons the Mile End Bunnings team “probably think that visiting them is our favourite activity to do on weekends because we’re spending so much time there.”
“I definitely spend an unreasonable amount of time browsing the tool shop thinking about my next purchase for the workshop. I’ve got my eye on a nice table saw right now.”
When asked about her favourite tools, Lauren puts her cordless angle grinder at the top of the list. “It’s weird, I know. It’s one of those tools you can really only appreciate how handy they are once you have one.”
“I’ve also just bought a small gasless mig welder. I still need to do a bit of practice, but I have some projects around the garden I have in mind I’d like to use it for.”
Lauren stumbled across the Workshop community while searching online for answers to her decking questions. The couple has now shared plenty of popular projects with the community, including a new deck and pergola, a studio and shed, and a stylish hat rack.
“I love seeing what other like-minded people are getting up to and finding inspiration for our own projects,” says Lauren.
Lauren admits that they both found the deck project “quite laborious”. The pergola, on the other hand, was an easy project with the only challenge submitting the paperwork for council approval.
“We love entertaining, especially outside. Our house didn’t really have a nice area to do this, so we finally built it. We bought the decking timber first so we couldn’t chicken out of the project.”
“If we had our time again, we would choose wider boards. The picture framing was also difficult, but we worked it out in the end, and it was all worth the blood, sweat and tears.”
Although they’ve been enjoying evenings out on the deck, Lauren says she’s most proud of the studio and workshop they’re building.
“It’s still a work in progress, but if you had asked me a year ago if I thought we could build what we have, the answer would be no way.”
Once they’ve finished the studio and workshop, it’s onto the next projects of styling their home’s interior and landscaping the backyard.
“I’m envisaging lots of Grevilleas. Although, I haven’t had much luck keeping my natives alive lately.”
With many D.I.Y. projects behind them, and many still on the to do list, Lauren and Sarah keep reminding themselves to intentionally take their time with each project.
“Sarah is always telling me to ‘slow down’, saying ‘it’s better to do the job well, than to do it fast.’ She’s probably right.”
“Also, ‘stop buying the cheapest tool. You get what you pay for.’ This is also true. We’ve started buying quality tools that will hopefully last a lifetime.”
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