Darren Palmer's 3 Favourite Design Transformations
1. Reno Rumble
Over the years I’ve been privy to so many transformations, both on tv and in my work. The best standout because they solve a problem in an elegant way. Some transformations are purely cosmetic, fleshing out a home that’s already beautiful to start with, some awaken the beauty of an old treasure and some just breath new life into houses or apartments and the lives of the families that inhabit them. Here are a few of my favourites and a little insight into what makes them so good in my opinion.
Reno Rumble has got to be one of the most impressive undertakings that I’ve seen. This show is almost exactly the same format as HomeMADE, the show that I cut my teeth on in 2009 but where we had 10 single designers Rumble had 8 sets of previous reality contestant couples. The comparison ends there though as 6 years of exposure to other TV reno shows has educated consumers like never before. The contestants deliver high quality solutions to design challenges, and in a fraction of the time it takes in real life, no show being as demanding or as fast paced as Reno Rumble. That makes the results in the show that much more amazing.
Judging Rumble, given the time constraints and my experience knowing how hard this challenge truly is, I thought I would have to moderate my expectations as the results would surely be less impressive than the block. How wrong I was. The first insight I received into just how amazing these transformations were going to be came in a house in Hampton in Melbourne, done in hamptons style.
The style is tried and true and very popular but the big transformation in this makeover came in the bold structural changes made. The entire living, dining and kitchen space was opened up, diverting a hallway into a new bathroom door to boot. All of these decisions improve the flow, livability and amenity of the home so the home owner’s experience is enriched. Skylights were added to flow light into the space and also provide an anchor point to the dining area, an important thing to consider in an open plan layout. The style and finishes were definitely on point with every detail considered and every problem solved. This to me stands out as a brilliant renovation.
2. The Block Sky High
The Block has its fair share of amazing transformations too. The big change in the standard of results came with the series of Sky High. The show did something amazing with an old and ugly 70s brick building, transforming it into an architectural design winning, 7 energy star rated building that transformed the landscape around Park Street South Melbourne.
Architect Julian Brenchley won the Jury and Peer Voted awards in the Residential Mid Rise category of the Architizer A+ awards for the Park Street Block, with Architizer describing the building as a “prime example of the ‘adaptive re-use’ of existing, low grade building stock into high-end environmentally sustainable development.”.
The building provided a degree of auction proofing due to the in built value added to the structure itself, making the apartments inside more robust and saleable as, even if the interior fitout wasn’t to the market or buyer’s taste, the building itself was beautiful, sustainable and liveable. This goes to show the importance of considering the exterior of full building renovations from landscaping, to façade to the overall stature and presence of the building – whilst there’s an investment required to achieve this type of renovation the dividend is measurable.
3. A Couple of My Own Jobs
A project that I carried out for a client in Coogee a few years ago is possibly one of my favourite transformations. The brief started with my client wanting to relieve his home of his old furniture, brought across from a previous home in a different location with a different style. The furniture, whilst perfectly fitting to the smaller terrace he used to inhabit was at odds with the large beach suburb home’s mood and the way the client wanted to live in the space. The brief, to simply update the lounge room, grew as the rooms were improved, with the client seeing the transformation seep through his home, making the rooms that were not touched yet seem a little tired. In the end the dining room, outdoor terrace, living room and winter sitting room were all improved and the home with the favourite room of mine and my client being the winter sitting room.
As far as sitting spaces went in the home, the large lounge room at the rear of the house opened onto both the courtyard and the backyard and was a light a breezy space with high ceilings. It was entertainment sized and when it was re decorated became a very beautiful space. The poor winter sitting room just couldn’t compete. It didn’t have any defining features or any real reason for being so was never really used for anything and barely even ventured into. The solution came in giving the room a task to fulfil. The client and I decided it would become a viewing room with a big tv which I integrated into a beautiful fireplace. To this day that the fireplace is the example I give when talking about integration of TVs and media requirements in a beautiful, sensible and functional way.
By creating a room around a purpose, that of relaxation either by a fire or by a good movie, we were able to bring the room to life. The repurposing of the space was so well received in fact that the huge lounge room at the rear of the house has been shunned by the client as the favoured living space, with the winter sitting room getting almost exclusive daily use.
Sometimes decoration can be all the transformation a house requires. A few years ago I worked on a very beautiful, architecturally designed and impeccably built house that was completely empty. This transformation happened very quickly, over a matter of 2 days, transforming the empty house into a lived in home. Everything from sofas to rugs, artwork, décor, soft furnishings and plant life were layered into the house when 3 big trucks arrived early in the morning, allowing me to decorate the house for a photoshoot the next day.
It was an amazing transformation that appeared in my book, looking like a home that was lived in for years, comfortably and beautifully. The elements are simple to consider, if not cumbersome to locate to install all at once which made this particular transformation fairly unique.
My old apartment in North Bondi was one of my favourite transformations of one of my own properties. It was a simple 3 bedroom apartment with a small budget and a simple brief. I wanted to improve the property to sell it at a premium so the process of research is what was interesting about this transformation. I wanted to see what the best price I could get would be so I researched on RPdata as well as domain.com.au and realestate.com.au to see what the properties that had sold in the market had that mine didn’t. My apartment was a diamond in the rough, aching for a refurbishment but there was more that the research uncovered that needed to be considered.
The apartment was 100sqm, 3 bedrooms and one bathroom. The properties that were like mine, in the same area that achieved the premium price all had 2 bathrooms so I had to work out how to navigate the tight floor plan to find space to squeeze another bathroom. In the end the solution was to use a hallway to divide up the existing bathroom into two, providing an ensuite that was not as tight as I’d thought it might be, perfect for a couple to enjoy complete with double shower heads. This one decision, based on research and understanding of the market allowed me to make a tidy profit. The home sold swiftly and I was able to climb the property ladder moving onto what may be one of my next favourite transformations.