Deborah Hutton 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 is 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 great respect for each other. You look after them and 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 neighbour 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 cuts the build time down. We pretty much 90% knocked a two-story house down and rebuilt it to finish in 9 months!”

The renovation saw many intricate features added along the way. We asked Deb what some of her favourites are.

“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 favourite joys about the house. It reminds me of The Hamptons, ‘coastal colonial’ or what you might see in St. Barts.

It has a holiday feel to it and all the timberwork 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. But it as Deb will tell you it didn’t come without its challenges.

“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 an 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 came thick and fast, but throughout the project, Deb definitely began to progress from ‘renovation rookie’ too 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

The 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; the boys 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 trades well. They’re all great guys who instilled confidence and I loved working with them. I’m missing them already.”

We asked Deb seeing as she had such a great experience as the ‘renovation rookie’ 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 that it’s completed, and I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Deborah Hutton – Client