RDM Interview The Block Star Kara Demmrich on The Messy Business of Renovating

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Is there a messier job than being a renovator out there? All that dust, paint and grime – and let’s not even talk about the mud when it rains …

However, if you’re as passionate about renovation as Kara Demmrich is, then a little (or a lot of) mess now and then makes it all worth it. Kara and her hubby Kyal, who were fan favourites on both The Block and Reno Rumble, have now turned their passion into a full-time gig running their own renovation business Diverse Design and Construct.

They’re also first-time parents to their adorable son Ziya who’s just turned one, which makes them a perfect fit, in more ways than one, to be the new celebrity ambassadors for this year’s Weet-Bix Messy Kids photo competition, on now until November 6.

The competition celebrates all of those crazy, classic, messy food moments by asking parents to upload photos of their child’s messiest food moment to be in the running for a swag of prizes. Last year the competition generated over 3,000 entries and 20,000 votes – and was a huge and hilarious success.

We recently caught up with Kara to quiz her on all things reno and mess related.



As a full-time renovator, how has your work schedule changed since having a baby?

It’s changed so much! For a start when I’ve got Ziya with me it’s not possible for me to physically be on a site all the time. Then whenever he’s napping I have to prioritise the most urgent things to do and frantically get them all done within an hour or two. I also do quite a bit at night once he’s in bed. I used to really love being out with the tradies labouring for a couple of hours here and there because it’s a good work out. However, that’s not really an option now!


This question gets asked a lot in the Ryde District Mums group from a value-adding perspective: if your house has one small bathroom should you choose to renovate it with a bath-shower or just a shower?

It really depends on who you’re marketing the house towards. If the house is big enough and there’s any chance that a family may eventually buy it I would go a bath-shower as it’s a big selling point. However, if you are marketing towards a professional couple with no kids, or an older couple then you could just go for a shower.


What are your best tips for renovating with small kids in the house – or is it best to just move out?!

Life will be so much easier if you give the space you’re living in some order. You might be living in a bit of chaos with everything jammed into one zone in the house, so it’s important to put away as much as you can in storage or a garage which will make you feel less stressed. Dusting and sweeping when you’re renovating is something you should be doing every day or even several times a day as you don’t want to feel sick and you also don’t want to miss a screw or nail on the floor for your child to pick up.

Finally, it’s important to communicate with your tradespeople regularly. Ask them not to leave sharp things lying around and to pack away their tools when they can so kids can’t get into them. I’m always mindful of making everyone mindful clean up after themselves.


You and Kyal are ambassadors for the new Weet-Bix Messy Kids competition – is Ziya a messy eater?

 Oh yeah! Being renovators we’re used to living and working amongst mess, however it’s nothing compared to the kind of mess a baby can make! Whilst Ziya’s a lot of fun, we’ve had to quickly get up to speed with how a one-year-old approaches meal times which often means the spaghetti bolognaise goes flying everywhere. He’s also just figured out that if he throws stuff on the floor our dog Jonah will eat it, so not much of it’s remaining on the table.


Do you think it’s worth paying a stylist to style your house for sale?

One hundred percent yes. You want buyers to walk into a space that’s styled well and envisage themselves living there. It could net you up to $20k or more at sale. If you want to try styling your home yourself you need to be confident in your ability, do research about it and also get a real estate agent’s opinion as well. If you have to buy a heap of new stuff, then it might be better to just employ someone who already has access to a warehouse full of beautiful furniture and accessories.


What’s your flooring preference – tiles or wood? And are you a fan of carpet in the bedrooms or wooden floors?

I personally prefer timber floors. They’re just a little bit softer underfoot and warmer although tiles with underfloor heating can be great. In our latest reno we had carpets in some bedrooms for a cosy, homely feel but had wooden floors in the master bedroom as it leads out to a huge wooden deck, so we wanted the transition to have a seamless feel.


On the subject of cooktops are you a gas or induction kind of girl?

I’ve actually never lived in a house with induction, we’ve always loved cooking with gas. Also, if you are going for a sleek modern look, there are a lot of modern options out now for gas cookers that can be integrated into a benchtop.


Is grey paint still the trend de jour?

I think so. You just can’t go wrong with greys accented with white. Especially if you are doing the renovations yourself. It’s unobtrusive, fresh, crisp and absolutely everything goes with it!


Is it possible to turn a passion for renovating into a paid gig without having to go on The Block?

It’s definitely possible! There are plenty of people who’ve done it. You’ve just got to be really smart with what you’re buying and how much you spend. But before starting I would say perhaps renovate your own place first and then get some expert advice from agents. Lots of people think they have great taste, but it’s worth getting some honest opinions on that!