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RENOVATION TIPS - with Alexandra Nea Graham

RENOVATION TIPS - with Alexandra Nea Graham
It's warming up & with Summer Holiday's approaching it can often be a time for home owners to take on renovation projects (or at least put some major plans in place to kick start them in the new year.)
To help inspire and hopefully guide you, we reached out to talented illustrator (& now accomplished home renovator) Alexandra Nea Graham to have a chat about her stunning family home renovation & share some insider info with you all.


What was your most recent renovation project?

Our family home on the upper North Shore, Sydney. The original home on the block was a classic 1950's timber weatherboard single-story home. We moved in with a 6-month-old and a 3yr old then spent 4 years living in the home in its original state, (there was no toilet in the only bathroom, it was out the back in the laundry!) whilst I dreamt up many many design options for a complete overhaul of the home. If you plan to renovate rather than knockdown rebuild, living in the home before is such a must if you can, you get to understand how the light flows and moves across your block and in and out of the home throughout the seasons, how to trap the Winter sun for extra coziness and shield it from the heat of an Australian Summer, what works layout wise for you and your family and what may need updating 


Was this your first reno?

No, we had previously completed a total renovation of our first home in Newtown. It was an original 1900's one bed single story semi (no kitchen to speak of at all, just a freestanding oven and a sink, no benches or cupboards, like camping, but we lived in it again for a few years before we started building) and we converted it into a two story three bed home, gutting the lot except the one common wall and front two rooms. This was a renovation done on a tight budget in cramped conditions (the house was 3.5m wide) but we had an amazing building team who made the process run so smoothly and I well and truly caught the renovation bug.

What drew you to Hepburn Hardware?

I had seen some of my favourite interior designers using Hepburn Hardware in their projects and I loved the modern twist on a classic that Hepburn offered with their designs. After ordering a few samples I was completely taken with the weight and feel of the handles, they not only looked gorgeous but I felt they could withstand the vigorous use my family was going to put them through

What advice would you give to first time renovators?

Open communication and a respectful relationship with your builder and trades is the absolute key to a successful project. 


What is your personal interior design style?

Oh, very eclectic! I'm a real, if I love it I want it and will make it work somehow in my home type person. I am drawn to old worldly objects and furniture, the more rustic the better. I guess I'm a mix of vintage country Australian furniture, french antiques with layers of textured textiles, throw in a bit of chinoiserie print and I'm a tragic for tiger cane.


What would be your alter-ego dream home?

An Australian country style wrap around verandah weatherboard timber home, lots of fret work, choc full of decorative ceilings, picture rails, fireplaces and cozy nooks perched on a rolling green hill with bush to my left and sea views to my right.


Favourite Hepburn Products?

I absolutely adore our kitchen handles, The Surrey in Acid washed Brass finish which has aged so beautifully over the past year. We paired this with the Ascot knob and the two together just add the perfect touch of rustic warmth to our kitchen scheme.


Now the big one….did you have a budget and did you stick to it?

Haha.. Yes and No!

We started with a budget and as is often the case that budget blew out. It wasn't entirely out of our control, a lot of the budget changes came from us adjusting the scope of the building work with our very patient builder as we went, but some of it came from unfortunate unforseen building issues that can arise when renovating a 70 year old house. We were renovating during the timber shortage and crazy price rises of 2021/22 and once we started gutting the house, we discovered we had to rebuild most of the timber framework, a definite blow. But again we had an amazing flexible builder who allowed us to pull from other areas that were coming in less than budget to compensate for the blow out areas. We also pulled back on some items in the end that could wait to a later date, hopefully incoming 2024..


What would be one thing you would do differently?

Really the only thing that bugs me is the layout of my laundry. I didn't give it enough consideration when I was designing it and I would change it now if I had the chance to better suit how I use it, but having never had a proper laundry before I have forgiven myself for this design faux paux! I could also say, I should have been much more strict in sticking to my budget and not getting carried away with on the fly creative changes but then I wouldn't have the home I do today..


Builder: Chris Peat @riversidebuildinganddesign - Riverside Building and Design

Joinery: Tod Gribble @conceptdesignkitchens - Concept Designs Kitchen and Joinery

Kitchen Doors: @farmersdoors - Farmers Doors


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