Fresh from 12 weeks hard at work on 2017’s The Block, Julia and Sasha found a renovation project that inspired them – and kept them busy
It is hard to believe that after 12 weeks of grueling hard work – all in front of the cameras – that any couple would think about tacking another renovation project, but that is just what happened to 2017 The Block contestants, Julia and Sasha.
The duo had always wanted to spend their time flipping houses, so they decided to turn their newly found skills into a business straight away, setting up a new company and looking for their first opportunity.
They chose a charming Edwardian cottage in inner-city Melbourne, which they immediately named Little Willow. Just over 100 years old, the cute-yet-tired weatherboard home needed quite a bit of work in order to bring it up to date – and suit a modern family.
Open-plan living was the order of the day, says the couple, which meant that the kitchen, built with the help of Freedom Kitchens, had to play a major role in the cooking/eating/living space.
“The kitchen is the star of the open-plan space and boasts high ceilings and a north-eastern orientation,” explains Julia. “We wanted to play on these two elements so we specified ultra-tall cabinets and a white finish to elongate the proportions. For a seamless transition, we kept the butler's pantry open and integrated a double fridge/freezer.”
As with any investment property, it is important not to alienate any potential buyers, so the couple kept to classic shapes and style – looking to The Hamptons for inspiration.
“We opted for Shaker-style joinery and marble-inspired Caesarstone,” says Julia. “The result is a perfectly classic kitchen with a modern touch. One of our favorite features is the extra-wide island with multiple waterfalls. It measures 3000mm x 1200mm and feels vast and expensive.”
The couple has used Caesarstone in previous renovations and has always been big fans of its durability and understated good looks, choosing Calacatta Nuvo™ for the benchtops, splashback and butler’s pantry.
“We have long been fans of marble, but it's not the most user-friendly material, especially in the kitchen,” Julia says. “We wanted to elicit the same look and feel and were drawn to Caesarstone's Calacatta Nuvo™, which has a gentle grain against a creamy base and is the perfect accompaniment to our Shaker joinery. Now the space has a heightened sense of luxury and the stone is a key element.”
“Caesarstone is hard-wearing and stain resistant, making it perfect for kitchens, laundries, and bathrooms. Gone are the days of your pasta sauce and foundation stains sticking around forever. Just give it a quick once-over and it's as good as new. The quality is second to none and the range of finishes means there's something for everyone.”
The couple also chose Caesarstone for another hard-working area of the house – the laundry – selecting Intense White™ for the bench top. “It is so functional and works beautifully with our tiled splashback,” Julia says. “The tones create a serene vibe and bounce light every which way. We've never seen a more luxurious utility zone and can't believe it's ours!”
Julia & Sasha’s 5 top tips on renovating with a view to selling:
- Make sure you're buying in a good market.
- Have a solid understanding of what renovated properties sell for in your area and set your budget accordingly.
- Employ a team of trades you trust and maintain regular contact. We always hold site meetings on a Monday morning and discuss what will happen that week. This sets expectations and ensures all materials are on site when needed.
- Spend money on cosmetic fixtures that will appeal to the widest possible market. Bathrooms don't have to be as exciting as those seen on The Block. Instead, select classic tiles in larger shapes as they're cheap and easy to lay. Then amp up the space with a stunning vanity and striking tapware.
- Get in and out as quickly as you can. The more mortgage repayments you have to make, the less money in your pocket.
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