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Rolling up the sleeves

Community Manager
Community Manager



It’s been a massive 12 months for Mike and Friedel. The delightful couple moved into their first home last January and have now started a major renovation. They also have just had their first child.


Mike, a freelance designer, writer and illustrator, says the pair could have made life easier for themselves by buying “a ready-made house with no work required” But they had a specific style in mind and a limited budget, so a D.I.Y. renovation seemed the best path.


“We love the fusion of vintage and modern design that we're pursuing,” adds Friedel. “That's most easily achieved by buying an older home and (short of an endless budget and a builder that can share your vision) rolling up the sleeves and getting the work done.”


Fortunately, graphic designer Friedel has plenty of D.I.Y. talent, and Mike is catching up. Mike says his skills are largely as a result of “trial and error”. “We've also been blessed with the experience of friends that are either veterans of their own renovation work, or professionals in the trades. A few videos here and there helps, of course.”

Mike and Friedel: a D.I.Y. renovation seemed the best path.Mike and Friedel: a D.I.Y. renovation seemed the best path.


Friedel says trips to Bunnings have also “proven invaluable on more than a few occasions”. “The staff are eager and helpful on a level you just don't expect these days, always listening intently and offering alternative options to get the job done.” 


Sense of satisfaction


Friedel says the final end result is obviously the most satisfying part of D.I.Y. “The sense of satisfaction in having a vision, talking it over, sketching it out, getting stuck into it (and 'stuck' in the middle of it) and, finally, enjoying the fruits of your labour.”


Mike admits “there are always hiccups and changes of mind along the way”. “But even that aspect is something to love about the D.I.Y. life. “Nothing good comes of hurling the hammer!” he jokes, before admitting “I can't say it hasn't happened...”


Friedel says “taking a step back and looking at the 'big picture' is the best lesson learned” so far.  “Remembering the goal, remembering that a quality result is more important than any deadline, remembering that life is all about the lesson and what you take out of the experience.”


Mike and Friedel describe their new home as a “beautiful 1960s weatherboard with a heavily gardened front yard and excellent interior space”. It has had a couple of extensions over the years, which unfortunately were not up to the standard of the original building.


“It certainly presents a lot of potential,” Friedel says, “and perhaps a little 'undoing' of some quick-‘n-nasty efforts here and there... As far as we know, the house was built by its original owner, so it has plenty of quirks, both charming and frustrating, in its quality and layout.”


Designing the house we want to live in


Friedel says the couple are going to take their time with such a big project and tackle it room-by-room. “This might not end up being our 'forever home', but we absolutely expect to be here for the next 10 or 20 years, so we're taking our time and designing the house we want to live in.” 


The pair started with the original master bedroom, says Mike. “So far, we've renovated the original master room with repaired and repainted surfaces, a new professionally designed and installed built-in wardrobe in place of the rickety original unit, new wall and ceiling lighting, and of course our own decorative accessories,” he explains.


“There's a lightly Scandinavian feel to the space, with a strong white theme matched to a Dulux 'Domino' feature wall.”


Friedel says necessity dictated what room to take on next – the baby’s room. “There's a bit of a deadline!”

Mike says there are always challenges in any project.Mike says there are always challenges in any project.


Mike, whose favourite weapons include cordless drills and the multi-function tool, says the first job in the nursery was to pull out the built-in wardrobe.


“That one was a bit frustrating, as the BIR was oddly built directly into the ceiling, which has meant installing new plasterboard and the tasks that go with that. So our first-ever attempt at plastering was a ceiling! Challenging stuff... 


“We intend to have a narrower BIR installed into the same space, with a built-in desk to be positioned alongside it. There are some other stylish tricks planned, but we mustn't give away too much.” 


Friedel, who nominates her favourite tool as a good paintbrush, says one of their longer-term goals is to make the house more energy-efficient, “which means new double-glazed windows, and tearing out plaster to better insulate the walls.”


Friedel says she and Mike were drawn to the Workshop community for many reasons, including some new ideas. “The opportunity to share our experiences, and to learn from those of others.


"And you never know when you'll come across some inspiration for that next major project...” 

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