Renovate w/ Gilly's - An Interview with Tamara and Rhys from House Rules
2021 has kicked off with a bang. This month we were lucky enough to chat to Tamara Grant and Rhys Bennett, Grand Finalists on Season 8 of House Rules. The couple reside in Brisbane and met at the gym. Like fire and ice, this couple was one to watch. Check out their interview below!
Tell us a little bit about yourselves?
The question that I don’t think anyone can ever answer! I (Tamara) am a lawyer, and Rhys is a few months in to his carpentry apprenticeship. He started after we finished filming the show and discovering that he enjoyed working with the builders on site.
We’ve been together for nearly 4 years after meeting at the gym, we’ve got a dog called Russell, and a cat called Luna. We both prefer Summer over Winter (so thank goodness for QLD weather), Rhys LOVES his cricket, and plays for our local club. I do not love cricket so much, so it’s a good thing we have two TV’s in the house for when a Test Match is on!
What do you love about renovating and DIY?
Being able to step back and say “we did that” – there’s nothing quite like it. Renovations and DIY work are daunting at first (and damn hard work) but with some creativity and problem solving it’s very rewarding.
Not to mention the money you can save if you’re willing to give things a go yourself!
What inspires you when creating?
Little DIY projects might just be a fun idea that you have one day and think “why not”, but with rooms and our house, for us it’s all about how we want a space to feel. How we want to feel when we’re in it, and how we want other people to feel. We both like spaces that are simple, with natural elements, warmth, and that feeling of home, and that goes a long way to inspire ideas for spaces.
We also do a lot of sticky-beaking at other peoples houses, or houses we see on shows/online (Grand Designs is one of our faves) it’s super inspiring when you see a dream space you want to recreate!
Tell us a story about your favourite DIY project or renovation?
It would have to be our house – even though we never finished it ourselves! It needed MAJOR work when we bought it, and we could only afford to stay in our rental for 3 weeks after settlement before we needed to move in, so we had three weeks to rip out all the gross stuff and put in a new kitchen and bathroom.
When our housed aired on TV, I don’t think people realised we had already done a lot to it, and we LOVED it! Haha, that’s what we mean when we say when you do it yourself, the feeling of accomplishment is next level, you don’t even care that you never got around to putting a door on the bathroom.
In saying that, if we’d known we were going to get on the show when we bought it, we wouldn’t have bothered to do anything and just saved the $20k we spent, but oh well!
What do you recommend for people wanting to get into renovating as a couple?
Have a plan, commit to it. Communicate.
Renovating is hard, and can easily get very stressful and overwhelming. Combine that with your relationship, and situations where you might be really annoyed at the way your partner is using the drill (it happens), it can all be too much at times.
The best way to tackle it, is to plan, plan, plan. Break things down in to smaller goals and know who’s doing what.
Oh, and have fun along the way! Half the fun of DIY and renovating is the memories made.. like the time I dropped an ENTIRE box of nails off the top of a ladder right after telling Rhys to be careful not to knock it.. or the time we had just finished the last coat of white paint, and our black cat immediately went and rubbed herself right along the wall and became a white cat. Those are the things you sit back and laugh about when it’s all done.
What are the challenges being in this as a couple?
The biggest challenge (for us at least) is usually agreeing on a design. One person has an idea they love and the other hates it... happens a lot. Of course, design is subjective, so you’ll never always agree – but sticking to more timeless/classic features, and things you genuinely like rather than trends is the way to go.
What was the process for House Rules?
For us, we submitted an online application with a short video of ourselves about why we wanted to be chosen. Once we were through the initial stages, there were builders and experts that visited the house on a few different occasions to make sure it was suitable, and then if you’re lucky – you get the news you’re on the show! To this day, we’re still gobsmacked that we made it through.
Would you do it again?
As hard as it was, we’d definitely do it again. It was an experience like no other, and to be able to have our house renovated to the extent that it was, makes it all worth it. We never could have done what they did for us.
What was your favourite thing about being on House Rules?
We made friends for life. It sounds dramatic, but going through so much stress and pressure together really does make for some great friendships – for 6 months we travelled all around Australia, laughed and cried together, and to have that shared experience is really special.
5 best tips and tricks for styling a home?
- Understand what style you’re going for, so that you can make it cohesive. A whole lot of random things chucked together (unless you’re going for random/eclectic) won’t work. Once you know your style/colour scheme, you’ll be able to stick to it, and spaces will start to come together. Repeating colours and textures around a space will give it a real cohesiveness.
- Put things where you want people to look. Got a nice TV unit, but a not so nice couch? Put things with more visual interest on the TV unit, and maybe a neutral throw over the couch with some decorative cushions, so now people are looking at the TV unit and the cushions, and not noticing the couch.
- Don’t forget about the power of paint! It’s not always possible (if you’re renting perhaps), but sometimes a room could just do with a different paint colour on one or two walls, or a DIY feature wall with some timber moulding or a painted feature. Bold colours work well in small spaces, and it can add huge visual interest without needing to clutter a room or go and buy new furniture or styling items etc. Plus, if you hate it, you can always repaint it!
- Group things in three’s. I read this in a design book a while back, and it’s gospel. Three cushions, three items on a shelf.. It’s more appealing to the eye, and makes a space look well put together.
- Rugs! This isn’t really a styling trick, but I feel like rugs are undervalued.. they can go over anything (even carpet!) and can do so much to define a space and add warmth. Just don’t be that person that gets them too small – there’s nothing worse than a too small rug.
Where to next for you two?
2021 we are tackling the exterior of our house and the yard – it’s going to be a LOT of work but we are super excited. Do we have any idea where to start? Nope! But we’ll get there.
What's been your greatest lesson on this journey so far?
Realising that (in Reno’s, and in life) even the best laid plans can go wrong, and you’ve just got to be okay with it. Adapt, make some changes and push on.
How did you find using Gilly's Products?
We have been using the Lavender Cream, Orange Timber Oil, and Chopping Board Oil. All super simple to use which is important for those fiddly jobs.
They are all easy to use and the fact they are all natural means they aren’t such a pain in the b**t with clean up and application, which is a huge bonus.
What was your favourite product?
The Lavender Cream is my fave – I use it way more than you probably need to because it makes the house smell amazing!
Why do you love Gilly's?
The biggest plus is the all-natural ingredients, we have animals in the house that lick things they’re not supposed to and we use the products in the kitchen, so it’s good to know there’s no nasties. We’re always looking for the Australian made products where we can, and Gilly’s is a great example of one – they’re also affordable, which is always a win!
Follow their journey HERE