She rose to fame on last year’s season of The Bachelor where she became a fan favourite contestant for her witty sense of humour and quirky personality, but Laura O’Loughlin’s latest project proves that she might be better suited on The Block.
Over the past two years, the reality TV star has completely restored her 1920s cottage to its former rustic glory, telling Yahoo Lifestyle that she was inspired to take on the task after binge-watching a number of renovation shows.
“I had zero renovation experience before this,” she laughs. “I did a lot of Googling and a lot of YouTubing as I went, but I picked it up pretty quickly and I’m so proud of myself.”
Laura explains that she hates nothing more than seeing heritage covered up, including rendering over sandstone or paint over heritage brick, so her goal was to restore the home while adding her own personal farmhouse style.
“Initially I kind of thought I could flip it, but then I grew too attached to it and put too much money and time into it to even consider giving it up,” she says.
“Now I can see this as being my family home. And there’s a stage two coming, which will essentially be adding on another few bedrooms and a study and a bathroom. That's probably looking at maybe two years down the track.”
The kitchen, which features a heritage brick splashback and all-black appliances, is where Laura put the most energy to ensure that it was “the star of the show”.
“I've had actual fights with tradesmen over this kitchen and getting it perfect because I wouldn't take no for an answer when it came to any kind of mistake or imperfection,” she details.
“That’s my one main tip. It became evident pretty quickly that tradesmen would happily sort of take me for a ride, try and rip me off, or try and do the bare minimum thinking I wouldn't know any better because I'm a woman. So I had to very quickly learn how to stand up for myself.”
Laura went on to say that she did a lot of the work on the kitchen by herself, including the impressive splashback.
“I'm so happy with how I how it turned out and I don't think I would have let anyone else do it because I had a vision in my head of how I wanted it to look in terms of this rustic style,” she continues. “It’s definitely my baby.”
Laura describes the bathroom renovation as “the most painful process” because of consistent delays and errors, but she’s extremely pleased with the end result.
“I’m really happy with the brightness of it and I love how the white makes it feel even more grand and even larger than it already is,” she says.
“I knew that lots and lots of white with just hints of black is exactly what I wanted to do, and you'll see that that's a recurring theme throughout the house.”
In the process of restoring the 1925 home to its original style, Laura decided to add an impressive archway to the entrance that wasn’t originally there.
“I knew it was going to cost me a bit of money, but the entrance is the first thing that you see when you walk in so I wanted it to look grand and I wanted it to look original,” she explains.
“It was a bit of a job that involved carpentry and plastering because the doorway actually needed to be raised, but it was some of the best money I've spent in terms of adding grandeur to the home. It's just so stunning to walk in and see that every day.”
The Lounge Room
Laura also decided to feature shutters on the inside of her windows in the bedrooms, study and lounge room to continue the farmhouse feel throughout the home.
“Typically the shutters are on the outside but I knew I had to have them indoors, I wanted to go all out,” she says.
“At times I was spending so much money doing all these little features that I just knew I had to have, and I now have absolutely no regrets about spending that because I would have ended up wanting to change it down the track anyway. That was my mentality.”
Now that the first stage of the restoration project has been completed, Laura has plenty of advice for people who have plans to do something similar.
1. Be selective with your tradies
“Don’t hire someone to do a massive project,” Laura shares. “Initially hire them to do something small and see if they do a good job. It will give you an idea of what kind of tradesmen they are and it could save you thousands of dollars in the long run.”
2. Try things for yourself
“What you can do yourself, give it a crack first,” she says. “There's no harm in giving it a go yourself. There is literally a YouTube tutorial for everything, whether it's tiling, grouting, removing old grout, or removing tile. I did all the demolition myself, which I found to be the most satisfying.
“Obviously don't go in the ceiling space and try to do your own electrical work, but when it comes to the more cosmetic stuff, don’t assume you can't do it. Actually give it a go before palming it off to a tradie because you might be surprised by how you find it.”
3. Use Facebook Marketplace
“I cannot stress enough how amazing Marketplace is and how much of a saviour it was for me,” she gushes. “There is always someone who bought too many tiles or the exact tile that you were looking at anyway, and there’s so much stuff you can grab brand new.
“For example, my beautiful diamond pattern leadlight glass for the windows costs about $1,000 a piece to get made. I found three of those pieces for $60 on Marketplace from an old house that had been demolished. They were all dirty and dusty but I paid someone to have them all polished and they look brand new.”
You can check out more photos of Laura’s home restoration project on her Instagram @_lauraoloughlin
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