From 80s Bland to a Gorgeous Contemporary Renovation

Whenever I hear of a young couple that has worked their butts off to get into real estate from a young age, I find it easy to empathise. Mr Nerd and I have also worked hard and made sacrifices to get on the property ladder ourselves. Unfortunately, even when you think you’ve done ‘the right thing’ by saving up and investing in property, it doesn’t always pan out exactly as you’d hoped. And that’s just the situation this young couple have found themselves in, who feature in the second episode of I am recapping (you can check out my first one here).

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We meet paramedics Kayla Brandt and Paul Roberts, a young couple who have been together five years. When Kayla was younger, she saved up for years to buy a 1980s house in 2011 in the NSW suburb of Silverdale, about an hour inland from Sydney CBD. On a 980sqm block, the three bedroom house cost $430,000. When Paul came along, he also helped out with the mortgage. The property turned out to be a good buy. Despite the fact that Kayla and Paul didn’t make any changes to it and it was largely still in its original 1980s state, the house’s value increased to $750,000. It seems like a great suburb to have bought in – in the past five years the Silverdale median price growth is a whopping 98.4%, according to figures from .

When Kayla and Paul’s work relocated them to the central coast of NSW – they moved to the area and loved it so much they bought a block of land and began building their dream home. Paul proposed and they began planning to get married in February 2018. To finance their build, they put Silverdale on the market and after seven long months got an offer – but at the very last moment the buyers pulled out. Then they received other offers too, and accepted them – but they too were also withdrawn! Such bad luck! Now property prices are dropping, too – and the market has become more competitive too, with new land estates cropping up in Silverdale that mean buyers can snap up a new house and land package for $700,000.

Now it’s been a year, Kayla and Paul have had no other offers since – and they’ve been struggling to pay two mortgages. With their finances stretched to the limit, they postponed their wedding. Andrew says they are looking forward to getting married and having kids. And “a normal mortgage,” chips in Kayla with a laugh. “Just like everyone else!” To make ends meet they have even had to move back home with parents. ENOUGH SAID.

This is an emergency for the Selling Houses Australia team. Host Andrew Winters comes to tour the house. The brick exterior isn’t bad – I think it’s kind of sweet, and definitely has the potential to be even prettier – and inside it’s neat and very clean, but dated and just not appealing – although again they definitely have potential. The flooring is a mix of original 1980s peach carpet and slate. The few pieces of furniture they still have in the empty house are old and sad. “We’ve never touched it since the day we bought it,” Kayla says of the 1985-built house. She adds that they bought the house from an old couple and I think they’re still secretly living there.

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The drawcard of the house is the lovely large garden and the nice timber back deck – great garden for kids, and there’s even an old fibreglass pool. But the old, low-roofed patio lets the backyard down. The dirty fibreglass reminds me of exactly what our 1970s sunroom looked like before we replaced the roof sheets. And the brick paving makes it look more dated.

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Back inside, the family bathroom is split into three rooms and although it’s still clean and neat it feels cramped, with original 1980s brown tiling and a shower with a low door that seems to suggest people were shorter just 30 years ago.

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The galley-style kitchen was renovated before Kaylah moved in. It still has the original slate floor, and the cabinets are white gloss and simple and nothing out of the ordinary, with those brushed silver handles you see all the time. I actually love galley-style kitchens, but this one is pretty poky, and teamed with the rest of the dated house, it’s easy to see why prospective home buyers in the area would be much more drawn to the new display homes in the area, with their big, light-filled kitchens and spacious open-plan living areas. Andrew talks to a real estate agent who says the property market here used to move so quick you couldn’t even blink. “You had to make decisions on the fly,” she says.

Unfortunately, Silverdale has recently experienced a rash of new land estates that have opened up and this is having an effect on Paul and Kayla’s sale. You could get a newly built house in an estate for $700,000 – or an old, dated home on a busier road.

Andrew says he feels for Paul and Kayla – they’re a young couple who have worked hard to get into the housing market but now with the building boom ramping up competition on the real estate market, it’s come back to bite them. “The timing couldn’t get any worse,” says Andrew. Prospective buyers at a home open say they would value it from $600ks to low $700s – not what Kayla and Paul want to sell for.

Andrew takes them to a display home and it’s beautifully presented, and so light and white it practically sparkles… well this is a depressing thing to do. Poor Paul and Kayla look miserable.

But while these new houses are pretty and shiny and contemporary, they are on blocks half the size of Paul and Kayla’s 980sqm one. No lovely big lawn for the kids to play on when it comes to these new homes. Andrew visits another older home in Silverdale with a big backyard that sold for $735,000. It’s bright and light and nicely renovated with a big backyard – there is hope!

It’s time to see if this bland 80s home can compete with these shiny new builds and nicely renovated older abodes. Shayna, who looks after interior design, and Charlie, landscaping whiz, come over to visit and assess. Andrew checks with Shayna if the original 80s peach carpet is coming back into fashion. It’s not. Paul, Kaylah and the team set to work getting rid of the peach carpet… very satisfying to watch! They also start knocking out the wall around the poky dining area. What I love about the plan for the house is Shayna’s idea to knock out the dining space to open up the space and create one bigger room – and to extend the small galley kitchen out into the living room by means of a breakfast bar and more storage, effectively doubling the size of the little kitchen. She is a clever cookie and I am starting to get an admiring girl crush.

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They are keeping the slate in the kitchen, but getting rid of an awkward (and dated) angled piece of it in the living room, and replacing the original 80s carpet with a lovely-looking laminate.

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No-one likes the dated family bathroom, but it’s not a lost cause – the tiles are in good nick and can be sprayed white (yes, you can spray tile! Well, you can with the right products. I have hand-painted tile myself, but for a bathroom like this I’d get a pro in to spray). The dated shower screen is replaced and it looks a million times better.

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I didn’t mind the original timber trim throughout the house around the windows and to the doorframes, but throughout the house it is getting painted in Taubmans June Fog and the walls in Taubmans Luna Rock to give the house a fresh new contemporary colour palette and I like the update a lot. It wouldn’t have worked with the original wood.

In the yard, Charlie and his team are getting rid of the dated 80s pavers, which is giving me horrible flashbacks of when I pulled 25sqm of ours up in our backyard ALL BY MYSELF. (I have to say that, as everyone thinks Mr Nerd does everything on our renos and I do nothing). They plant a bunch of tall magnolia trees in the garden that must have cost a fortune, but they would be worth it – the backyard looks gorgeous and the patio area (with new roofing and light, modern paving) is now lovely. At the front of the home, the balustrades are removed for a more modern look and the hunter green balustrades and gutters are painted white which immediately lifts the house and gives it a lighter feel.

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The real estate agent suggests asking from $749,000. Some of the jaded prospective buyers who saw the house before come back and are very impressed. They declare the house now worthy of offers between $725,000 to $770,000.

Well – Paul and Kayla sell it for $775,000 and are overjoyed. And with that financial stress now no longer hanging over their heads, they get married…with their cute Labrador at their side. I love a happy ending. Maya x

Maya-Anderson-House-Nerd

Author: Maya Anderson

When Maya Anderson was thinking of a name for her homes and design blog, nothing seemed more fitting than Modaokon. Obsessed with everything to do with houses, renovating and interior design, Maya is a features journalist by training with a background in print and a focus on homes and real estate. She has been renovating her 1970s house since forever, loves dogs and can eat her body weight in dumplings.

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