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You know (and love) her from ‘The Great Outdoors,’ ‘Reno Rumble’ and ‘The Block,’ but Shelley Craft’s latest project – her own home in Byron Bay – has been the latest focus of her building expertise.

The ambitious project, which she embarked on with her husband Christian Sergiacomi, saw her dated fibro surf shack transform into a beautiful family home, dubbed ‘The Little Blue House,’ on a budget and in just nine weeks. 

Yep, you read that right: nine weeks.

Reflecting on her extensive career and her learnings flipping ‘The Little Blue House,’ Shelley shares her top tips for renovating with haven.

Out with the old, in with the new
You don’t need to give up modern creature comforts to retain your vintage home’s look and feel. 

“The house was built in 1950, and while I’m a huge fan of ‘retro’ there is always a level of comfort and modern living that you need to consider when renovating,” says Shelley. “Our choice of colour and styling is a nod to mid-century in 2020.”

On the outside of the home, Shelley wanted to retain the fibro look and feel without keeping the actual fibro sheeting. In a bid to keep the cottage looking as original as possible, they reclad the exterior frame in Cemintel and added battens to recreate the 1950s style.

“We had a really limited budget and I was incredibly surprised at the cost effectiveness of this cladding – so much so that we could afford to do the exterior of the adjacent garage as well, all within budget,” says Shelley. “Removing old fibro can certainly scare people off a renovation project, but knowing that you can reclad your home with a superior product within a tight budget is amazing.”

Cosy, not cramped
Being a small beach shack, Shelley and Christian needed to think carefully about the internal materials they used in ‘The Little Blue House’ – with so many shared walls and just one communal living space, preventing noise travelling was high on their priorities list.

“When you build or renovate you have to think about the long-term wearability, liveability and longevity of your hard work,” says Shelley. “We needed to ensure that unwanted noise was reduced as much as possible, so finding the right plasterboard product was imperative and helped us deliver a sense of privacy for everyone residing in the different rooms.”

The pair opted for Australian-made Gyprock throughout the home, using Superceil for the ceilings, Superchek for the walls and Aquachek in the wet areas. Having now spent a fair amount of time in the home, Shelley knows they made the right choice.

“The sound dampening, acoustic qualities have created a cocoon-like feel throughout the whole home – you cannot hear a peep through the walls!” she says. “The density of the sheeting gives a very solid feel to the property, handling bumps and dings much better than the standard.”

Colour is everything
In a tribute to the original house and the nearby beaches of Byron, Shelley kept the house blue – though slightly updated the tone.

“The home was a striking blue colour when we bought it and we wanted to have some fun this time around, so we’ve chosen to stick with that colour palette but opt for a more subdued blue,” says Shelley.

The ‘beachside chic’ colour scheme is complimented by a bright, slightly pastel palette internally, adorning the bedroom, kitchen, dining area, and special breakout quiet zones. To enhance the natural brightness, Shelley chose to keep the walls clean and white throughout the bedrooms and living areas.

 In keeping with the overall style, natural timber was added throughout the home – in the form of floors, tables, seating and cabinetry – to retain warmth and stay true to the overall Byron aesthetic. The use of indoor plants, textured throws and different level seating in the lounge area also brings softness and comfort to the home, achieving a highly functional living space for the whole family.

”We have replaced every wall and ceiling, as well as the entire external cladding, so this 70-year-old home that once had a very tired look to it has had a total refresh – whilst still maintaining the character and charm of the original,” Shelley says. “We love this little home and know that we have created a very special place that will stand the test of time.”

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haven is all about family, life and style in Brisbane's inner city suburbs, the Gold Coast, south to Byron Bay. We have been keeping parents in the know for over eight years, with fun, fresh and helpful stories that they can take tips from or treasure in their own library.