Home Tours

This couple spent two years and $65,000 transforming their little cottage

Despite being their first foray into renovating, this motivated couple has achieved wonders on a tight budget. We get the details behind their DIY journey

Meet and greet

Kate Webby, PR and communications manager at Vend, and Jordan Metcalfe, works in commercial property, plus Tinks their rescue dog.


  • The living and dining areas were separated by a false wall, which really closed in the space. There was also no door to separate the conservatory from the dining room, which meant the conservatory couldn’t be shut off on cold days.
  • The kitchen was in poor condition and had a strange layout, including no space for a fridge.
  • The garden was totally overgrown on one side, a dumping ground on the other, and very sparse in between.


  • Kate and Jordan removed the false wall to create sunny, open-plan living and splashed out on bifold doors to the conservatory. As well as creating flow, this allowed them to close off the conservatory when needed.
  • They put in a new kitchen, keeping the old plumbing in place to save money. The island bench was removed to allow more storage, a wider fridge cavity, a five-burner oven and large double sinks.
  • They removed or cut back overgrown hedging and dying trees, created box gardens and planted olives and a hedge of feijoa all around the section. Thousands of dollars were spent dumping rubbish from the back of the property before they could add a clothesline and vege garden.

Biggest challenges 

+ Kate: Painting the outside of the house to create street appeal was hands down the hardest part of the reno. It took us two entire spring/summers of working almost every weekend to strip, sand and eventually paint. If we’d had the money, we would have 100 percent paid someone to do this for us. But we saved around $30K by doing it ourselves, so it was definitely the right decision.

+ We didn’t see friends or family for months at a time and gave up most of our social life, long weekends and holidays for over two years to work on the house, which felt very draining at times.


The following totals are all-inclusive for each room – electrics, plumbing, paint, materials, tradespeople, curtains, fittings etc.
> Kitchen – $16K
> Living and dining – $13K
> Bedrooms (combined) – $6K
> Ensuite – $7K
> Family bathroom – $1K
> Heating and insulation – $7K
> Outdoors, including landscaping, painting exterior, and garage – $15K
Total spend – $65K


Words by: Debbie Harrison. Photography by: Vanessa Lewis.

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