Real estate, research and Pinterest – Oh my!

Now that we have our house and block of land, the fun part really begins – deciding what to do with it! I’ve waited a long time for this moment and have essentially been planning my dream house forever, but now it’s a reality that planning and research has taken on a whole new importance.

I love looking at homes, whether it’s in the flesh, in magazines or online and am always collecting images of things that inspire me. When we bought our house an agent friend of mine told me to cancel my real estate alerts straight away, in case I saw something better and had buyers regret. But I am way to curious for that so I kept them coming, just to see what else was out there. And much to my delight I haven’t seen one house that I wish we’d bought. My mum still pours over the houses for sale online as well, even though they recently bought a house, so I guess that’s where I get it. But I love it, especially looking at houses I can’t afford but aspire to own one day. You should never stop dreaming and aiming high!

Another thing I am obsessed with is Pinterest, especially when I am researching for a renovation. Whenever I give people advice on what we learned doing The Block I always say that doing your research beforehand is the single most important thing you can do. In the lead up to All Stars I was online for hours every night looking for ideas, even though I had no idea what the house we’d be renovating looked like! That did make it a little trickier, but the research was still invaluable. I documented pictures I liked both online and in magazine cuttings and then refereed to them constantly during the renovation. I can’t tell you how much it helped, particularly when I had to make decisions quickly, which of course The Block is all about.

Anyone who has renovated or built will know how many decisions go into creating a house, from paint colours, tiles, floor coverings, tap ware, appliances, cupboards, benchtops, curtains, lights and door handles, just to name a few. Not to mention the all important floor plan, which is probably the most important decision of all.

When you’re bombarded with decisions and every one of them affects the look and feel of your home it can get very overwhelming very quickly. When you’re standing in front of a wall of paint swatches or door handles they can all start to look the same, which makes choosing difficult for anyone, even those of us who have done it a few times. So that’s when your research comes in handy.

Whenever I had to make a design decision I would refer back to my pictures, to see what I had originally liked. I would usually find I had subconsciously collected a lot of pictures of the same thing, whether it was paint colours or kitchen designs, so that helped to point me in the right direction. It was also extremely helpful to show my builder and kitchen designer what I was going for, especially when I couldn’t always put it into words. For example, if I wasn’t sure whether to choose white or cream cupboards, or matt or gloss, I would look at my pictures and see what most of them were. Then I’d look at which door handles they used and if they were all the same or a combination, those little things that can such a difference to the overall look of your house.

Trust me, even the ‘experts’ do this! They create moodboards before a job and refer to them to stay on track with their colour palette and design. So if you are doing your own renovation or new build I cannot stress how important it is to do this research beforehand.

At the moment I am mostly looking at exteriors and floorplans for our house, but I do tend to get distracted by gorgeous Hamptons style kitchen and living rooms! So if you want to get some inspiration from the pictures I’ve collected make sure you check out my Pinterest boards. If you’re into Hamptons or modern country style you will love them.

Another great site for inspiration is Houzz and there are many more I’m sure you’ll find in your searches. Just make sure you have a coffee (or wine) and a few hours to spare, it can get a little addictive!! Happy researching. :)









House hunting. Fun, until it’s not.

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I love looking at houses. I love searching for them on real estate sites and I love looking at them at open inspections. I imagine us in the house, thinking about how we’d change the floor plan, which local shops we’d use and what we’d put in the garden. In the years before kids and during the property boom in Sydney Phil and I would often spend our weekends looking at houses for fun. We would go to open inspections of homes we couldn’t possibly afford and get inspired that one day we would have a home like that. Having said that, those houses are probably worth 5 million plus now, so we still couldn’t possibly afford them! But I like to dream.

So when it came time to look for our own family home, for real, I was excited. I spent hours looking online, registering for alerts and planning our weekends around open inspections. I’d feel my heart beat a little faster every time an alert popped into my mailbox and a house in my suburbs, for my budget, was listed.

Because we were looking for a renovation project we’ve looked at some pretty average houses. Houses with cracks big enough to put your fist through. Houses with rotten floorboards and crumbling roofs, salt damp, mould and every type of hideous carpet and wallpaper combination you could imagine. But the uglier they were the more it inspired me. I saw past all the imperfections and visualised how they could be. I reassured our kids that these awful houses wouldn’t always look that way and that mummy and daddy weren’t crazy for looking at them, because they had the potential to be beautiful one day.

But each time I saw that potential and fell in love with a place it wasn’t meant to be. Clearly everyone else loves finding houses with potential and they kept getting in first, or paying too much. And then came a long winter where nothing came on the market and we had to fit open inspections around soccer games and birthday parties and the kids got over it. And then so did we.

It became frustrating and tedious. We’d drive past a house and write it off without even getting out the car.  I grew tired of falling in love with houses over our budget, so I tightened my search preferences so I couldn’t see them at all. And I got sick of looking at dumps that cost more than fully renovated houses and started to wonder if we crazy for wanting a fixer-upper when an already-done would be so much easier. Some days I wondered if buying at all was a mistake, when we loved the rental we were in and lived free of the pressure of a mortgage hanging over our heads.

But then we found it, the one we’d been waiting for.