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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...” 

14 Replies
Experienced Contributor

Pretty impressed with how much D.I.Y. you are taking on without a lot of experience @mikedoeslife! I look forward to seeing how your home comes together.


I'm really keen to add a bit of a Scandinavian feel to my home when it is completed so it would be great to see how you have given your home the same kind of look and feel for a bit of inspiration.

Super Contributor



I'm interested in what tool you used to do your initial plans on your computer?


All the very best with the renovation. I'm looking forward to seeing more.  





Junior Contributor

Yay, published!


@maknilsin, thanks for the kind words. Sounds like we have similar tastes! I'll be sure to post here again when we've finished our little boy's room, which is coming along nicely (if slowly). 


@CathD, Hi Cath, I'm a graphic designer by trade, so I've used the program that comes most naturally to me: Adobe Illustrator. It can be a tricky thing to use - a sharp learning curve if you've not used it before - and also quite expensive at around $50 per month for the full suite of Adobe programs. So... perhaps not the most ideal option for you, depending on what you're familiar with! 


That said, I'd be happy to talk with you about mocking up a polished floorplan from any sketches and measurements you might have. Hit me at getmikestevens at gmail! (@ and .com, of course) 



Super Contributor

I would love to see more photos of the house. I love looking at before and after shots to see what people have done. This was a good one -

New Contributor

Aw lovely story, hope your new home and arrival bring you lots of joy :smile: 

Experienced Contributor

Hey @mikedoeslife, I'd love to see more photos! Especially your bedroom with the Domino Grey feature wall :smile:

Community Manager
Community Manager

@KingStreetReno - here's a couple of shots of Mike and Friedel's beautiful renovated bedroom.






I've encouraged @mikedoeslife to share some other photos in another thread. We're also thinking of developing gallery functionality here on the blog so you can quickly and easily flick through member photos. 



Super Contributor

Thanks for the bedroom photos. Keen to see more @mikedoeslife

Community Manager
Community Manager

Here's a few more shots.






Super Contributor

Any updated photos @mikedoeslife


I imagine it is hard getting renovation work done with a baby in the house!

Junior Contributor

@RenoQueen thank you for the compliments! I do indeed have more photos, as we've now finished our little boy's room and it looks great!


I intend to post an update on the weekend, and I also intend to be a little more present on Workshop! I totally disappeared, but I'm keen to get back into active posting. 

Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi @mikedoeslife,


Hope all is well. It would be great to see you back on the site. Any feedback you'd like to share about our redesign would be much appreciated. 


Thanks again for your patience. I understand that it took us too long to optimise the site for mobile but hope you enjoy using it now. 




Junior Contributor

@Jason I'm back! Loving the mobile makeover so far. Looks like there's no reply button on comments -- had to scroll back up to the top of the discussion to reply -- but otherwise it's great! Definitely going to work on becoming a regular contributor again. Although sadly I have no news on our home, we've been overcome with family commitments and costs! Second child joined us last week... Life is good, but the home projects are on hold.  :unhappy:

Community Manager
Community Manager



That's wonderful news. Congratulations to you and Friedel and I hope you really enjoy this special time. I'm sure the renovations can wait a little longer! 


Thanks also for your feedback about the blog format. I agree that we need to do something to make discussion on the blog a little easier, especially as conversations build up to a reasonable length. We could add reply buttons on every message like on discussion threads, or at least have a second text box at the bottom of the comment thread as well as the top. 


Great to have you back!




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