When asked; “Have you filed for divorce yet?” at a kids birthday party I was rendered speechless. My husband and I were in the middle of explaining our home extension to someone.

All photos by Sara Heidinger Photography and edited by Moi (amateurly).

Luckily when my jaw is on the floor my chatty hubby is a champ at scooping up the conversation. Call me naive but just because our project has been smooth-as-double-glazed-glass, it’s not the same for all couples. Pro Tip: It helps if one half of the partnership is a project manager in construction for a living. Yup.

Advantages aside, this was a massive undertaking for a young family. We built an extension twice the size of our home and managed the build and trades ourselves (when I say ‘we’ I mean ‘Matt’).

The Brief

Take our (barely) 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom 1950’s style home and add an open plan kitchen/ living area and a parent’s retreat with walk-in robe and studio/ office space. Without demolishing anything (due to our previous renovation on the original house). Plus, stick to a skinny budget yet make it look awesome.

The Work

Good thing my beloved adores his career because doing his own personal build seemed to give him extra enthusiasm. Something to be grateful for when upon his return from a 12 hour workday he would bounce into the backyard measuring, locating mistakes, figuring out how to fix them and lining up the next round of tradesmen.

Even though the Husband knows everything about building, he still included me in every single decision (even when it needed to be explained five times.) Dude has the patience of a Saint.

Master Bathroom
Modern Industrial Living Room

The Secret

What really made our reno a success is teamwork. I trusted his experience with construction and he trusted mine with finishes. We worked harmoniously on design with our wickedly talented architect. The result is a completely unique home which is an amalgamation of both of our tastes. (He is drawn to modern minimalist where I lean toward vintage classic.) We settled on modern industrial with a classic twist, something we both love. Now after just a few months in our new space I would not change a single thing. What a great feeling.

Stairwell and Pendant

But back to the initial comment which rendered me mute, I thought back to the survey I took on about couples and renovations. From the questions in the quiz I should have guessed that building and renovating is highly stressful for a lot of peeps. You know the whole; “rate the difficulty of the renovation on your relationship” type of Q and A.

Matt and I related more to this quote in the Houzz article:

“While renovating is challenging, it can strengthen relationships. Many people reported that after completing a renovation project, they now spend more time at home together, eat and cook more at home, and have more company over. A large majority of people in many countries also said they feel more comfortable, happier and more organised at home.”

Master Bedroom in Progress

The Change

Our home is finally finished. It means so much more to us than just more space for more stuff. It means our daughter will have room to play, I have a dedicated place for my business, and we will be able to host family holidays and overseas guests.

Art Studio and Office

The new part of our home is warmer and brighter. I cannot say enough how much this has positively affected my mood. The renovation has completely changed our day to day lives.

I’m looking forward to being able to relax with a glass of wine in our new living room and talk about anything other than construction and design. Who am I kidding? We’ve already started talking about our next project. 

Have you survived a home renovation? What was the most difficult part? What was the easiest?

It’s easy to think non-Americans are not emotionally (or financially) invested in the US election but I would argue that’s not the case.

An American expat of seven consecutive years, I can only watch in horror as my fellow countrymen and women tear one another to shreds over the most controversial election in history. And guess what? The world is watching too.

For the record I moved to Australia to escape myself,

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So now that the Bupa Blog Awards are done and dusted I should have massive amount of free brain space right? 

No. No my friends there is not. #nospace #overload

After the awards ceremony I went to the bathroom, took a selfie and got psyched up for my next project. Good to have eggs in other baskets.

Why am I talking about baskets and eggs and selfies,

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If you haven’t been privy to me shouting about the Bupa Blog Awards from the hilltops all you have to do is scroll down and read your eyes out.

It’s conservative to say that I’ve been a little bit excited about being a finalist. I found myself in the company of some incredible bloggers, women who I already followed and looked up to. When I found out about the nomination my brain shouted at me “IMPOSTER” and then a funny thing happened.

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You know how sometimes there are people who just radiate energy? The ones who are like, really *alive*? Don’t you want to know how to get more of that into your life? I know I do.

How can we live more fully? I honestly think it comes from creativity. If you don’t think you are a creative person- hear me out (you are).

In some way or another we are all creating our lives,

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PB bars

Errrmaaahhhhgaawd this is indulgent and damn delicious.

Lucky for me (and you) it’s high-protien, full of healthy fats and vegan to top it off. I’m not vegan but I can get down with the cuisine.

Bonus: No baking involved! (Does anyone else feel like once the oven is introduced the recipe becomes a gamble?)

Peanut butter and chocolate have to be the best dessert combo hands down.

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I promise I’ll stop banging on about this soon… Stay with me.

If you haven’t been privy to me bleating about this from the social media hilltops come closer…my little blog Kangaroo Spotting is a Bupa Blog Awards 2016 Finalist!!!!! Pshaw! Can you believe it? Neither can I.

Backstory-I used a service that my healthcare provider, Bupa, offered me after I had my daughter, The Parent and Baby Wellbeing Program.

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