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Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Country cottage transformation

From crumbling cottage to country chic, the Gundaroo residence of Katie and Alex Middlemiss had a significant transformation through the latest series of reality TV show, House Rules.

The two-bedroom cottage, built in the 1800s, proved a unique challenge for contestants on the show, with a roof held up by sticks and “not one single straight line” in the original house.

Alex said they were glad their home was the last to be renovated so they could benefit from what the teams had learned during the show, while reflecting on their own journey.

A lush, green faux plant wall is a feature in the main bathroom which had to meet the house rule of ‘rainforest vibe’. While the design choice missed the mark with judges, Katie said it provides much needed colour and texture to the room.

“We were definitely a different couple at the finish to where we were at the start,” he said. “We learnt so much … felt we had much more to learn.”

Coming into the show, Katie said “we were quite practical in that we knew getting on House Rules we were probably going to get an extension … but never did we imagine something this huge”.

Teams more than doubled the 68sqm cottage, and added $330,000 value in seven days. Prior to the renovation, the home was valued at $430,000 increasing to $760,000 post-renovation.

Katie and Alex described their home as “small and falling down” with space one of their biggest issues before the renovation – and they are thrilled with the outcome.

“Before we got on House Rules I cracked it and said we need to move if we can’t do an extension because I was really struggling with Hallie starting to move and having nowhere for her to go,” Katie said. “To have all of this space now, and it’s such a safe home, I can let her walk upstairs to her room and I don’t feel I have to run after her.”

Being away from daughter Hallie, now 17-months old, was one of the biggest challenges for the couple during their time on House Rules.

Alex said the lounge is one of his favourite spaces because “I love the timber, the light that pours in, the day bed, and it’s just so relaxing”.

“Definitely the hardest thing was getting photos of her every day and not actually being able to hold her,” Katie said. “We were very lucky we didn’t miss a milestone. We were always home when she crawled, when she walked, talked.”

But the decision was worth it. “If nothing else, it’s given us more time here.”

So what did the couple think about their new-look abode?

They both agreed that the teams “nailed” the house rules with Alex’s favourite space the lounge room “because I love the timber, the light that pours in, the day bed, and it’s just so relaxing”, while Katie loves the kitchen.

“I love the kitchen because it’s a whole kitchen and the light is just mind blowing. It’s so amazing to wake up to every morning and spend time in during the day,” she smiled. “My previous kitchen was a kitchenette with no pantry and flooring for benchtops.”

The home now has plenty of room for the couple’s 17-month-old daughter Hallie to explore including a designated play space.

They also appreciate the installation of solar panels and skylights, the use of recycled timber, and keeping some of the heritage features including a lot of the original beams, fireplaces and original ceilings in the bedrooms.

While they have had a couple of months back home since filming ended, Alex and Katie are yet to put their stamp on things but said they will “enjoy doing it at our own pace”. One of the first projects on their agenda will be heating.

“Heating is the only thing we are looking at at the moment,” Alex said. “Aside from that we genuinely think the teams nailed it.”

Katie added “our only source of heat is ornamental. And it gets to -8oC out here so we’ve been quite cold when it’s not like this with the sun pouring in”.

For now, Katie is currently working on a renovation in Canberra and has been approached about becoming involved in some additional projects.

“Some people say they never want to see a paintbrush or hammer again but that’s not us, we love the industry,” Alex smiled. “We are studying a couple of courses at the moment in interior design, just trying to educate ourselves about the industry.”

As for some take-away advice for people interested in renovating, the couple suggest:

  • Learn to talk trade.
  • Educate yourself.
  • Research.

Katie & Alex’s house rules

For their country renovation, Katie and Alex set teams the challenge to:

  • Build a 21st century country house
  • Keep it eco-friendly
  • Accent with modern pastels
  • Go calm and cosy in Hallie’s room
  • Bring a rainforest vibe to the bathroom

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