The Block winners Dea and Darren Jolly acquired the property at 14 Irymple Ave in Kew East and completely rebuilt and renovated the period house. In this interview, Dea speaks about their entry into the home renovation business, their work on the 14 Irymple Ave house, and future plans.

1. What inspired yourself and Daz to get into renovating?

When I had my kids it became a natural transition to move out of fashion and move into interiors. I always had a passion for it, I love creating a home. It’s all about the warmth for me; it’s hard to define my style because it’s more about a feeling. Darren grew up on a farm and has always been really handy. He studied building for the last few years of his football career, so the design side and the building side is a match made in heaven; it was just a natural thing for us to want to create homes.

2. What is your favourite design aesthetic?

People would describe it as classic contemporary. It has lots of timeless elements about it, I try and choose things that are timeless that aren’t going to date. They’re good quality and have a luxury feel. In terms of style, it’s about colour, texture and warmth for me. I like lots of different styles; I take little bits of each and create my own.

3. What drew you guys to renovating the bungalow?

We wanted to get a period house; after the Block we wanted to get stuck into something really quickly. This was available and we could access it before we settled so we could start thinking about plans – all those things were attractive and it’s a great suburb and neighbourhood. It was a little old house that needed to be polished up again and made into a beautiful home for families that will last another 100 years. I felt it was a good first project for us as a partnership.

4. How did you retain the heritage aspect of the home whilst making it modern?

We kept all of the elements of the facade that we could. The structure of the facade was rotten but we kept everything we possibly could that makes the house look heritage. The doors, the front door, all the windows with the lead light, the bricks and the tiles. Everything there was we took out, had restored and brought it back to what it was – it all looks really beautiful. We didn’t do anything that was too crazy in terms of colour – grey and white are really classic colours for these period houses. We wanted to keep it single level and not have a big modern box that you often see on the back. I think that has really kept the integrity of the original structure.

5. How do you find a balance between design and functionality?

As a woman and a mum we’ve kind of carved a little niche for ourselves that we like to do family homes because that’s what we are and that’s what we know. Daz and I are both perfectionists and have a good eye for detail so thinking of everything in terms of functionality and what a family needs is definitely what I’m trying to do. I’ve tried to think of everything in this house, I’ve got a drying cupboard, I’ve thought about making sure all the skylights on all the windows have curtains – could make everything dark.

6. In terms of designing a bathroom, how do you make it functional?

Daz and I are both perfectionists and have a good eye for detail so thinking of everything in terms of functionality and what a family needs is what I am trying to do. For example, bathrooms are a really important part of family homes and I always like to include things like underfloor heating. The layout of the space is really important and also the maintenance. When selecting the colour and sizes of the tiles and grout I choose options that are less of a problem to clean. In terms of functionality and light, making sure the space is well lit and there’s fresh air available I think is really important.

7. What was your experience with National Tiles?

I had a really good experience – I was really happy with the choices available, I was able to find tiles straight away that I loved and was excited to be putting in bathrooms. Everything went really smoothly, and was simple and easy. All the technical advice I received from National Tiles was spot on – just being really comfortable knowing that when I’m using natural products like blue stone and marble that I’m using the right glues, grouts and sealer.

8. How do you select tiles for different spaces?

I do a lot of research about what is current. I’m obsessed with Pinterest and reading magazines, I am always being inspired about what I want. That was one of the good things about National Tiles; they had all the things that were on my wish list. It’s about having a vision about how I want a space to look. I tend to choose really classic, timeless – bathrooms are an expensive thing to have to renovate, I want to choose good quality and something that I’m not going to get sick of in a year or two.

I tend to use feature tiles on walls rather than floors. I use the same floor tile throughout and change the wall tiles so there’s that continuity of the floor being the anchor in the room and then I change up what’s happening on the walls so they feel different. I make sure the bathrooms are either tonally similar or their patterns are similar so there’s a story you’re telling but it’s slightly different in each room.

9. What is your number 1 tip for renovating bathrooms?

You’ve got two things, layout and tiles they’re the number one things that really make a difference to a successful or unsuccessful bathroom. Picking the best tiles you can afford and going over your budget if you need to get the right things.

10. What's next for yourself and Daz?

My dream would be a Victorian or a really pretty Edwardian. I love period homes, I love family homes and I think that’s a good combination, other than that I’d really like to do a beach house. Daz is currently doing some renovation work for clients but this is really our priority. Doing a couple of these things a year is really what we want to do.