Anna is no stranger to a DIY project or getting her hands dirty. Whilst juggling her business Made By You - where she designs and makes customisable and sustainable furniture, she is chipping away at the renos on her Ma’s old farm in Berry NSW. With sustainability in mind, she transformed the original kitchen and brought us along for the process on her instagram firstname.lastname@example.org. She used our Newport Matt Square and Subway Pattern Tile for the kitchen splashback to carry through that earthy, textured farmhouse vibe.
What spaces did you renovate?
I moved into my Ma’s old farm in Berry and since being built in the early 80s, it’s remained virtually untouched. It’s definitely in need of some updates and I’m just commencing my renovation so the kitchen was the first project! Next up I’ll be building its walk in pantry counter-part. I have immediate, 1, 2 and 5 year plans ahead of me and because I love a project – it’s all very exciting!
What motivated you to renovate?
There’s a lot of nostalgia in this home – my whole family is connected to this place so I really don’t want to change the floorplan much as I think that would change those memories. 2-5 simple structural changes, max. Plus, I can hear the distinct tone of my Ma’s voice every time I change something so that’s an interesting psychological development, ha! I’m motivated to make the space feel more “me” while keeping a sense of my “ma” too. I think that a whole lot of love will be injected into it because I’ve got such a strong connection to the home.
Were you living here at the time of your renovations?
Oh yes – I’ll be living here throughout. We recently had to cook dinner next to the bathroom sink if that’s any indication of how much we’re living around the reno haha! I think that’s all part of the fun and I always loved camping, so camping in your home kind of feels like a luxury!
How would you describe your style?
My style has changed over time, but I think it’s always been earthy and fun – be it colour or a very unusual piece – I am always looking to make things feel different. I’ve decided for this home I’m going for a “retro, modern farmhouse” look. There’s some really unique cedar panelling throughout the home that deserves to be incorporated into the design and some classic retro tiles and coloured porcelain fixtures that are just daring me to keep them and make them beautiful again through other updates.
Talk us through the process you took in the planning stages of the renovation!
Oh I always use Pinterest! I’ve probably been pinning to my board “Seey Livey” to the last 10 years! It’s obviously a lovely part of the process and you need “broad strokes” before you can refine any idea or design, but when I started getting specific – specific rooms and updates I could envisage – that’s when I create a mood board to keep the whole house on track. This is my current mood board – that relates to a few different parts of the house I intend to take on!
Were there any delays? How long did the renovation take?
After the dust has settled on my ideas, I tend to move quickly. I got stuck into the kitchen cabinets and sanded them all back, cut all the beading to size, mitred everything with my drop saw, glued and tacked everything in and finished them with a cabinet finish and colour in the one weekend. Then I got the Kitchen Benchtop measured and quoted and locked in the following week. Installation was 2 weeks later and I removed all the old tiles and made sink, tap and tile purchases in the meantime. It was a month in total from start to finish for the kitchen and I spent $6k all in.
What was the most challenging part of the renovation? Did anything go wrong? How did you adapt?
Figuring out what to do when is always the trickiest I think. I knew I wanted to paint my cabinets green first to check they worked against the original Indian Slate flooring. I even painted the plasterboard white after I removed the tiles (partly because I didn’t want to look at the off coloured plasterboard and partly because I wanted to test the white splashback against the benchtop samples). The tiling I got a little over-excited about and layed the wrong pattern for the first part – but could easily backtrack to fix the pattern and just lifted the tiles off the mortar. Oh and the farm sink I originally screenshot from Ikea wasn’t the one available in Australia so those dimensions changed but luckily figured that out pretty quickly.
Were you juggling a career as well as overlooking the renovations?
Always! Because I’m a Maker during the week (and am making timber furniture in my workshop daily) I spend a lot of time on the tools, so you’d think by the weekend I’d want a break?! But not at all. I have no stop button once I commit to a project – I’m all consumed and love every part of design – especially the making. I’ll definitely be making some custom furniture pieces to suit the space too, and probably designing new products throughout as when I realise I want a piece, I know others will want it too.
Did you and your partner or family butt heads over the design at all?
If they ask, I’ll show people what I intend on doing, but don’t ever ask for their input. I think that’s why when I share videos throughout the process – it’s only after I’ve completed a stage (also too, posting too much just slows you down).
Did you come into the TileCloud showroom to look around at tiles? Did you order samples?
I didn’t need to! I had my eyes on the Newport Matt Square and Subway Pattern Tile for the longest time and knew immediately they’d brighten up and modernise the kitchen so well and give it that “farmhouse feel”. And I’m so glad I went with the matte finish – it diffuses the light throughout the space so well. I think the gloss would have been too showy for the kind of casual feel I wanted.
Why did you choose TileCloud / What did you enjoy best about the TileCloud experience?
Well, apart from being a long-time friend of the co-founders, and seeing them go from strength to strength over the years – curating the most amazing collection and showing real life renos – it’s so easy and quick! Absolutely seamless and love how the product looks in my home!
Any advice for first time renovators?
Just because you haven’t done something before doesn’t mean you can’t learn! There is literally a YouTube video on anything. I would not underestimate yourself and work on gaining some more practical skills. I am very fortunate to have a lot of tools already, but investing in a drop saw, orbital sander, a good drill with lots of bits, and a nice chisel is really is worth the investment. I had never rewired an electrical outlet before I did it on this project and I’ve never felt more satisfaction from turning my kettle on than I do now!
What did you hire trades for and what did you do yourself or with help of family and friends?
I obviously had the benchtop installed by the stone masons and the tap and sink installed by the plumber, and my boyfriend helped me remove the huge old vinal benchtop outside, but the rest was me. As I’m answering this question on my laptop, sitting at the kitchen bench with a coffee in hand, I realise that I couldn’t be prouder about that, too.
How can we find you?
I’ll be posting the rest of my reno in instalments on my Instagram @madebyyou.online – I make custom and sustainable timber furniture and am always sharing that process too, so it’s a very “female maker” vibe and lots of BTS content from the fun we have at our workshop on the South Coast. Next up for my reno is the walk in pantry to the kitchen and I’ll be building that from scratch so I hope you follow along!