Deborah Hutton is a genuine household name for the majority of Australians. Her radiant smile and beaming personality have graced the covers of magazines and television screens for decades. A celebrity in her own right, Deborah wanted a new challenge in 2018 and Virtue Projects was there to help along the way.
Deborah wanted to renovate and had found the right canvas in the eastern suburbs to realize her Hamptons-inspired dream home.
But simply renovating wasn’t enough for Deb – she wanted to share the whole journey along the way. ‘Renovation Rookie’ was born and after some research and recommendations from trusted friends, Virtue Projects was selected to take Deborah on her renovation journey. From our side, it was an absolute pleasure.
But how was it for Deborah?
“I’ve had a dream run. You often hear nightmare stories from others, but I really haven’t and I was blessed to have had amazing weather too.”
“The builders have been a cut above the rest. They’ve just gotten on with it. They’re very focused. A young company that are really going places and I just love their attention to detail and the skills they brought to the project.”
“They’ve got fantastic trades too, so we really haven’t had any dramas. It’s been a joy because we have had very clear communication and a great respect for each other. You look after them, they’ll look after you! That’s my biggest takeaway”
Most of our clients like to be around the site often during a renovation. It’s understandable of course, and also encouraged. Deborah enjoyed the renovation so much that she took ‘being on site’ to a new level…
“I moved in next door during the renovation. My neighbor was happy to move in with his girlfriend during the time and let me rent his house, which was unbelievable. I know it minimizes any dramas and cut the build time down. We pretty much 90% knocked a two-story house down and rebuilt to finish in 9 months!”
The renovation saw many intricate features added along the way.
So, what are some of Deborah’s favorites?
“I love the timber detailing on the front balustrade and posts. When I am standing on the street looking up, that’s one of my favorite joys about the house. It reminds me of The Hamptons, ‘coastal colonial’ or what you might see in St. Barths.”
“It has a holiday feel to it and all the timber work the guys have done is amazing. They’re all pure artists, true carpenters. I know they loved working on the house because few people commit to that level of detail and get this kind of result. They are very proud of their work and so they should be! They love what they do.”
“I also love my custom wine cellar too… I jokingly call it my Panic Room.”
It was a genuine pleasure having Deb with the team onsite each day. Her enthusiasm, charisma and sense of humor was a real plus, that’s for sure. And she definitely took to the job like a fish to water. But it had its challenges along the way.
“I spent a lot of my television career hosting home improvement shows. So, of course everyone thinks you’re an expert… I’m so not the expert!”
“Before starting this renovation, I had only ever retiled a bathroom. That’s all! I remember someone saying to me once this started: ‘Jesus! Don’t think you should have started on something a bit smaller?’ I started this knowing absolutely nothing.”
“The thing that spun me out more than anything was the bloody jargon. I found it challenging to get my head around the construction side of things. Architects, engineers, builders; they all speak a different language! It can all be quite confusing and you can feel quite stupid! I kept saying to them when I drew a blank ‘can you do that in interpretive dance??’ Ha!”
In the beginning, the challenges were real, but throughout the project, Deb definitely began to progress from ‘renovation rookie’ to much more.
“The thing I learned was when you’re looking at a set of plans it means nothing until you see it in the real world and feel the space”
“Scale is really, really different. You spend so much time looking at floor plans and trying to imagine the size of the rooms when it’s a building site, no walls etc. you have no idea if it is going to work or not.”
“I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have worked with the boys because they understood I came from a background of knowing nothing, and held my hand through the process which included a massive amount of changes along the way.”
“I have to say; Dave and Mick are great communicators and were so patient with me. Dave’s got this great character about him where you think he’s laid-back but he misses nothing and importantly never shows any signs of stress. He handles his tradies well. They are both great guys who instilled confidence and I loved working with them. I’m missing them already.”
If Deborah did have such a great experience as the ‘renovation rookie’ it must be asked: is she planning on doing another renovation again soon?
“I’d love to do something down the line, I just need to settle in, feather the nest and breathe again. But I wouldn’t build another dream home – this is my dream home. I’m not going anywhere. I look around this house now it’s completed, and I wouldn’t change a thing.”