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Kyal and Kara Demmrich skyrocketed to fame after their appearance on The Block in 2014. The serial renovators have transformed four homes since purchasing their first house in 2008 and are gearing up to sell their latest masterpiece – a four-bedroom house in Long Jetty on the NSW Central Coast.
When the couple met as teenagers, Kyal was contemplating a career making surfboards and Kara was about to embark on a physiotherapy degree. Kyal choose carpentry instead, which resulted in the trained eye and strong hands-on skills he brings to their various renovation projects. Kara’s flair for interior design, such as finishes and texture, ensures each home has a contemporary warmth and classic style.
In October last year, Kyal and Kara welcomed their first child – a baby boy called Ziya – but they have still found time to renovate another home.
We spoke to Kara in the weeks leading up to the auction of their Long Jetty house about their choice of materials and some renovation mistakes to avoid.
The Long Jetty house is your fourth renovation. Your first one was in 2008 – what kind of potential did you see in your first home?
The house was nothing special but it was on a really big block and it was relatively flat. It had some quite established trees on the block and it was about a five-minute drive to the beach. So, it was a great location but it was not the best house.
How do your renovations skills complement each other?
Kyal’s got a builder’s background, so he brings the knowledge about how something is actually going be constructed. He’s also really good at spatial planning. When we’re just looking at plans on paper, he can look at it and go ‘oh, this room needs to come out by half a metre’. I’m more about the finishes and how all the textures are coming come together.
We often initially don’t agree on things. It’s like a teething process – it’s really annoying, but we’ve learned to realise that it’s all part of it. You’ve got to hold your tongue sometimes and listen to what the other person has got to say and then find a middle ground or sometimes accept that what they’re saying is probably correct – or vice versa. Those initial disagreements are all part of the process and it always ends up leading to a decision we’re both happy with. But, yes, it is so frustrating at times because you just want to be right!
You put a pause on your first renovation to compete on The Block in 2014 and then completed the last step – your kitchen – after filming. Tell us about your kitchen and why did you chose Dekton for the island bench?
A standout feature of the kitchen was the island bench. Kyal carved a mitred profile on the edges, which was something a bit different. When people walked in, that was one of the first things that caught their eye as a real feature of the house.
The other standout feature was the Dekton benchtop. At that time, Dekton was a relatively new to Australian households. It’s different to other stones in that it’s got a really thin profile and a beautiful texture. You just want to run your hands along it.
What potential did you see in the Long Jetty House?
Our little boy was about four months old and we’d been looking for another project close to where we lived. This is the first renovation we’ve done without actually living in the house, so we wanted something close to home because I’d be walking back and forth with him. We also wanted a flat block close to the beach and something similar to our first house. We wanted a block that could handle a nice big extension for all the new living areas and we love open plan living and high ceilings, especially at the back of the house. It’s all about outdoor living for us and really that’s what helped to sell our first home. With that in mind, we wanted to do a similar type of thing.
What was your aim for the renovation?
We wanted to create a home that we would be proud to live in, even though we were selling it. And we wanted to create a home that people walk into and could see themselves living in and entertaining in.
It’s a four-bedroom home with a small study. Tell us about the kitchen design.
The orientation is great. It looks out over the dining, living and the outdoor pool area. It’s in the hub of the home and it’s quite social. There’s lots of natural light. It’s got highlight windows and skylights above, so it lets in all that gorgeous northern light. And it has a beautiful big island bench, which is a major feature of the kitchen.
Which surface did you choose for your benchtops and why?
We chose Silestone Yukon Suede for the surfaces and American oak cupboards. I really love the colour of the Yukon. It’s not a stock standard white; it’s a subtle, beautiful colour. I also love the suede finish because I’m not a fan of shiny surfaces. I love that it’s so robust. You can spill a bottle of wine and not be freaking out that it’s going to stain like marble. That’s just not the way we live! We don’t want to be too precious about ourselves. We also chose this Silestone surface for the laundry and master bathroom.
What are some of the errors first-time renovators make and how can they be avoided?
I guess just rushing is one on them. You’ve got to work out why you’re renovating first. Are you renovating to sell or is this your forever home? Work out what’s important to you and then invest the money into the areas that are important.
People are often not clear with their goals for renovating and the budget in terms of where they’re prioritising their money. Don’t over capitalise if you are going rent the house out and have tenants living in it for the next 10 years.
We also see that a lot of people take the cheap option for a lot of things but it doesn’t end up being the cheap option in the end, especially if it’s easily damaged or needs to be replaced within a couple of years.
What’s next for you and Kyal? Another renovation?
We’re selling Long Jetty house in mid December and then having time off over Christmas. After that, we’re filming again for the next season of The Living Room on Channel 10. We’re really happy living in the house we renovated on the [NSW] Central Coast and probably will be for the next couple of years. After then, who knows!