Last week we got to see the big reveal for Carole and Russell's Perth pad. The house, in a beautiful location with gorgeous valley views, was bought on the cheap as a renovation project from the start, and the transformation was tipped "renovate or detonate" after the Gumtree ad it was sold with.
What was really clear from Carole and Russell's House Rules was that they wanted to turn their rough-and-ready mix of half-done DIY and, actually pretty stylish, one-off items into something smart.
It's a common thing for our homes to become an eclectic mix of features, colours and characters as we slowly transform them over the years. But drawing all of these aspects together, to get a really smart overall design ready to show off to friends and visitors, is no easy task. Carole and Russell had the benefit of five eager co-contestants to turn everything around in one week. For those of us without an army of supporters to help carry furniture and paint the walls, House Rules has still given us a few ideas of our own to make smart renovations:
1. "Style us industrial chic"
We weren't quite sure what Carole and Russell meant by this at first, given the before-shots of their Perth valley house. But there's no doubt that industrial chic is still firmly at the heart of current design fashions.
Industrial style is easiest when the fabric of the building you're in is already industrial. But, in reality, original brick and iron features aren't a necessity to bring this highly adaptable style into the home.
Using aged or repurposed materials to smarten up your home has never been cooler. Bomber and Mel used perfect and stand-out features to smarten up Carole and Russell's lounge with undeniable industrial chic: from the station-style clock, to the brown leather seats, to the iron coffee table, to the repurposed timber units, they certainly ticked all the industrial boxes to get that authentic style smartness.
2. "Create a butler's pantry with a barn door"
A lot of people might well have "butler's pantries" but simply refer to them as utility rooms. Carole and Russell exemplified their desire for a smart renovation with reference to the traditional use of an additional service/storage space.
This intermediary space between a kitchen and a dining area is great to get a rustic or antiquarian feel, and to inject some smart-class into your home. It turns an otherwise standard kitchen-dining set up into a place tailor-made to host upmarket guests, by separating the work area from the social one.
The barn door aspect is another typical design feature to give your kitchen a farmhouse feel, proving that going traditional is a safe style decision to achieve an impressively smart design.
3. "Give us a stunning al fresco dining room"
Bomber and Mel also got to design an al fresco dining room. Smartening up a home to entertain guests is all about focusing on the social areas. An al fresco eating area is about as good as it gets when it comes to entertaining in the summer. And having one overlooking a lovely lush valley makes Carole and Russell very lucky indeed.
Even if you don't have the perfect view, or space for a terrace, you don't have to worry too much. You can always bring the outside in by making the most of the light in your dining area. Get as much natural light as possible by using sky-lights, big glass patio doors or going for a more airy, open-plan space. Decorating in light natural colours will emphasise this feeling, as will keeping a room fairly open and plain, with as little clutter as possible.
4. "Vintage-luxe our bedrooms"
A vintage feel ran through most of the designs in Carole and Russell's transformation, the bedrooms in particular being targeted for vintage touches. Vintage is a pretty broad design term referring to things of a certain age returning from the past into modern design. Current trend points to nostalgia from the past 50-100 years in particular, to give our homes a feeling of authenticity, history and depth.
There are no hard and fast rules to follow when using vintage to style our homes. In reality, the industrial chic rule set by Carole and Russell was along the same lines. For their bedrooms they added on "luxe", to emphasise the smart over the shabby. While the master bedroom conjured a 70s and 80s feel, with an added spark of Art Deco on top (all very vintage), it was the guest bedroom that ended up the show-off vintage design. And this was largely down to Adam and Lisa's flower-print wallpaper and old bicycle poster - two exemplars of vintage fashion.
5. "Shower our bathrooms in champagne and chocolate"
The final House Rule was also a final call for smartness. As far as design tips go, there is little more luxury than champagne and chocolate hues to turn our bathrooms into deep and decadent boudoirs. In lifting the bathrooms with rich and light colours together, Carole and Russell were calling to keep the high-end quality feel running through the whole house.
Champagne and chocolate are cool indicators of class indeed. But alone they simply aren't quite enough. If you're going for high contrast, albeit rich tones such as these, it's important to keep your room looking warm too. This can be achieved most effectively with warmer yellow lighting or, as Maddi and Lloyd showed us so eloquently, with an extra touch of colour. They chose to break up the dark chocolate and airy champagne with rich, rose-red; a lesson to us all in twisting the rules a little bit to turn a simple bathroom into a beautiful, smart one.