18-20 October 2024
International Convention Centre Sydney

Three Birds Share Renovation Stories

From corporate careers to steel cap boots; best friends Lana, Erin and Bonnie shared their story at the Home Show.

11 renovations, 22 bathrooms, a sponsored web series and 22 years of friendship; the Three Birds are unstoppable. Would you guess they started with absolutely no experience in renovation?

These three pals worked in corporate marketing and operations roles for large supermarket brands. And yet, following long and prosperous careers, they decided it was time to move in another direction. Initially, fear got in the way of starting a business.

Bonnie reveals that it wasn’t easy getting started,”Renovating a house is expensive, buying and flipping that first property is scary. You’re forking out a lot of money. We quit our jobs, and we just got Alana in as our third cash cow,” she joked.

So, they set-off to be true house flippers; buy, renovate and build. A house flipper tries to repeat these three steps as quickly as possible. Therefore, they started with the lofty ambition to renovate their first house in just six weeks.

Lana’s parents were extremely sceptical, “I grew up in a family where we renovated pretty much every year of our lives. Mum and dad would buy in the worst street. We would renovate it, it would be beautiful, we’d move four seconds later.”

To their parent’s surprise, they achieved the impossible; finishing a home reno in just six weeks. Now, they are distancing themselves from the stigma of ‘flipping’ to what they now call ‘forever homes’.

8 secrets to #renomagic

Vision board ?

Throughout their talk, the birdies always returned to the vision board as a point of reference. A vision board is an assortment of colours, inspirations and ideas cut from magazines or printed from Houzz. It gives continuity and keeps your dream alive and kicking.

Don’t renovate all at once ?‍♀️

Most of us can’t throw down all our savings or equity on a full-blown renovation, our accountant would say it’s bad cash flow. Pick one room (like the bathroom or kitchen) and design it around your vision board.

I <3 cladding ?

Bonnie gushed over her number one building material, “I’m in love with cladding. You can use it inside or outside. It creates texture, it creates interest.”

Practical vs visual ?

Lana says every home should make you feel a million dollars, “There’s that battle between what you think is going to be practical vs what you really want to bring your vision to life. The white lounge was on Bonnie’s vision board, but then you’re thinking, is it practical? So, I’ll just go for a dark colour. But you’re never going to feel the way that white lounge would have made you feel.”

Erin is the captain of practical and disagrees on this point, she said, “If [being practical] is what makes you feel good in your home, being de-cluttered and easy to clean, then go with that aesthetic.”

Storage ?

‘You can never have too much storage’ tweeted the birds. Searching for ‘dead space’ is like a treasure hunt that most builders aren’t interested in pursuing. Hence, it’s up to you to study floor plans, investigate the home and speak with builders about how to maximise space.

The Birds shared a renovation story where they discovered extra space in the loft cavity. Instead of leaving it plastered up, they added two little doors into the roof cavity for a cheap storage addition. No cabinetry or joinery necessary.

Outdoor room ?

There’s a Hampton style, French country kitchen style, but what about the Australian style? The girls believe a ‘relaxed, coastal holiday vibe’ reflects our enviable climate and geographic identity.

All the estate agents they’ve spoken to have said that an indoor/outdoor living arrangement is what all buyers ask for. A pergola can add that touch of class and provide much-needed shade at a low cost.

Dog ugly house ?

What constitutes a dog ugly house? Four words – brown aluminium windows frames. To un-dogify, simply add shutters or blinds. Polyester sheer curtains are a budget way to transform your interior into a flowing romantic 90s video (the dream).

Budgy the budgeter ?

Going over budget can take the fun out of renovations and make you resent your home. The birds admitted that during ‘every build, we’ve used our contingency budget.’ So budget carefully and don’t think doors from Bunnings are above you.

Mistakes, I’ve had a few ?

Even the professionals make mistakes. Lana, Erin and Bonnie put their hands up to a mistake they made early on in their renovation careers. After finishing a project, they realised the bathroom was not level with the rest of the house! When you walked in, you would stub your toe and go ‘ouch!’ Consequently, they learnt to have that conversation with the plumbers and builders far before the work is done.

Reno School

The Three Birds made their presence at the Home Show not only to deliver #renomagic, but also to enrol new students in Reno School. Lana shares their start-up story, “There’s only so much you can teach in an Instagram comment.” Referring to course content, she said, “There are 150,000 words, which is more than a few shades of grey.”

There are three courses – the Complete Course (6 weeks), the Kitchen Bootcamp (2 days) and Bathroom Bootcamp (2 days). Each module contains fun videos, PDFs, templates and resources which are designed to be used towards your own home project.

Erin explained that it’s not like a traditional class, “I hate documents, I hate excel spreadsheets, I hate reading lots and lots. But Reno School is really informative in a really beautiful way.”

Reno Shows

Three Birds TV is where you can see their take on the modern renovation show. The bite-sized episodes focus on one room being transformed at a time, giving you a window into their process.

Erin is sceptical about the recent renovation shows, “[reno shows] are there to inspire us, not to follow exactly in their footsteps, because they are just there for entertainment. Budgets are big, timeframes are crazy, it’s all condensed, it’s all for the cameras.”

Every show has a different role in inspiring us. The Block is pure entertainment because it’s big-budget and short time frames. Grand Design is more realistic from a timing perspective as it follows one project over a long period. Finally, Selling Houses Australia is the truest to life as budgets are tight.

Lana shared her philosophy on ‘renotainment’, “For us, we love to show that renovation isn’t all tears and jeers and fights and broken relationships and no sleep. Renovating doesn’t have to be the ball breaker that it is often portrayed to be. At least not for us, otherwise we wouldn’t be doing this five years later, we’re too old for that! We’re not going to live a life that is that upsetting and traumatising!”

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