When life hands you a post-war cottage, you transform it in a bright, Insta-worthy bungalow…

With no renovating experience, Roìsìn and Zac – better know as Geebungalow – went all in when they purchased a home in desperate need of TLC from top to toe.

Now they are almost at the end of their renovation journey, it’s hard to believe the before and after photos are of the same place!

We’ve loved following their journey on Instagram, but had a few questions of our own to ask them (like how do they keep everything so perfectly white?!). And they were happy to share!

Below they talk about what they’ve learned, how they avoid burnout while working full time and renovating on weekends, plus what’s next for their renovation. Read on for their tips and plenty of swoon-worthy photos of their Brisbane bungalow.

Please introduce yourselves…

We have been together for 8 years and got married last year. We have 2 German Shorthaired Pointer dogs, Henry and Betty. We bought our house nearly 3 years ago and have been renovating it ever since! We both have corporate jobs, so no trade experience.

Why did you decide to buy a home that needs renovating?

In all honesty, it was all we could afford. We bought our house when we had both just turned 23 and our budget was tight!

What has it been like living in the house during the renovations?

Sometimes easy and sometimes it is really disruptive! For big jobs like our bathroom and kitchen, we had to move out – and with 2 big dogs that is tricky! We are lucky that our parents are really accommodating!

My biggest tip with any job when you have to move out of your house is to tell your trades a timeline and work with them to make sure the downtime is as short as possible!

How did you choose your aesthetic?

We didn’t set out at the beginning of our renovation with an aesthetic in mind… we just kind of made design decisions we really loved and it came to life that way! We haven’t gone for a specific style – just warm, neutral and minimalist!

What is your favourite DIY project you’ve worked on?

Our favourite DIY has been our backyard. It was such a wasted space before and we put so much love and time into transforming it. We did almost everything ourselves, which was so hard but super rewarding!

Because we only have the weekends to work on things, it often means pretty slow progress! We built and rendered a concrete bench seat, tiled the concrete slab, painted the house, built a retaining wall garden bed and got white concrete steppers poured up the side of the house!

How much time of your week do you spend on renovations?

So much! I think that is something you have to be prepared for/committed to if you plan on doing a fair chunk yourself. Renovating takes a lot of time to do it right – and especially when you work full time. We spend almost every weekend (both days) working on the house and sometimes we will need to do things before or after work if we need to meet deadlines for our trades, etc.

You definitely don’t have to dedicate this much time to it, but we wanted to get our house finished this year so we are on a self-imposed deadline!

You work full-time and renovate on weekends – how do you ensure you don’t burn out?

This isn’t something we mastered in 2020, as we definitely felt super burnt out by the end of the year! Mostly though, we love doing it! We love working on our home together and enjoying what we’ve built.

One thing we did is set end times for our working days on the house. When we first started, we would literally work until 9–10pm on weekends and do 14-hour days. That was unsustainable, so now we make sure it’s tools down by 6pm so we can still enjoy dinner and some downtime!

How do you keep those beautiful white surfaces clean (especially with doggos around)?

We actually don’t find this to be a big issue. I think a lot of people think white surfaces will be harder work, but they don’t get any dirtier than any other colour of tile/fabric – you can just see it more easily.

We have a cleaner who comes once a fortnight and we clean in-between that, and it seems to do the job!

Our white couch has removable machine washable covers, so that is amazing! We wash them once every 3–4 months and that keeps it looking fresh.

We also make sure we wipe the dogs’ paws before they come inside if it’s been rainy and muddy outside.

Psst… it’s the Mother Ducks interrupting here! We thought you’d like this tutorial Roìsìn shared on how she washes her couch covers (no chemicals involved)!

While we love your whole house, we particularly love the laundry! How did you make sure this was a functional space?

The laundry was a really impractical room before we renovated it. It comes just off our kitchen, so when we renovated, we turned it into a laundry/butler’s pantry and added a large pantry, benchtop, new sink and lots of cabinetry. We also removed the doorway from the kitchen into the laundry, so it all flows a lot better and lets in a lot more natural light.

Our house is post-war, so there was almost no storage built in – that is always our goal when renovating a new space: add storage! 

What was it like entertaining in your home for the first time after finishing the living areas?

So great! We love to entertain and have been having all our friends and family over through various stages of our reno, but it was great to have all our friends over for a big Christmas dinner and enjoy our outdoor space!

What is your next project on the house?

This year we are building a carport, replacing our front fence and replacing our roof! We currently have an asbestos roof and it’s the last bit of asbestos left on our house (and super ugly!), so we are going to have that removed and replaced! We are also working on landscaping our front yard.

For people who like the idea of renovating but feel overwhelmed by it, what advice would you give them?

Start small! Feeling overwhelmed often comes from just having no idea where to start. When we started, we wrote a list of everything we thought we wanted to do to the house before it would be finished. This list didn’t end up being super accurate (haha), but it helped us identify some small wins that we could knock over really fast! It also helped us understand that there was a lot on that list and to adjust our expectations for how long the whole thing might take! For most things, there are a lot of great tutorials and advice online! But be sure when it comes to big things – like electrical, plumbing and anything structural – that you enlist the help of experts!

It’s amazing that Roìsìnand Zac have created such a beautiful home while working full time! If you liked their story, we bet you could accomplish some pretty amazing things in your spare time too!

Even if renovating a house is not for you, these weekend warriors are inspiring because of how they use their free time.

If you need a little extra time to create something special, we can help! Our cleaners help Roìsìn and Zac free up time for their renovations. So if you’re now thinking that a cleaner could free up some of your time to do something you’ll look back on with fondness, we like this train of thought. Because upping your quality of life is what we are all about!

Here’s how hiring a cleaner works. If you have a question, call us and we’ll help you straight away – The Mother Ducks xx