Today we welcome mum and business owner, Melanie Aslanidis from Beachside Collective – an online space for lovers of coastal design and island style. Melanie and her husband Stewart recently appeared on Better Homes & Gardens with the front garden and facade of their Sydney home receiving a full makeover. I’ve asked Mel to fill us in on what happens behind the scenes of a television renovation.
Home renovations require vision and a well thought out plan and many people such as I do not have a clue where to start. How do you choose colours? What structural changes could you make? How do you see the potential in a rundown space?
So when my husband and I were offered the opportunity to have Better Homes & Gardens film a front garden makeover and renovate our facade, we absolutely jumped at the opportunity! We knew we needed to improve the disaster that was our front yard, but we really did not know where to begin.
We bought this house as a family of three in 2015 when looking for a property that would allow us to extend our family beyond the capacity of our inner city apartment.
We loved that it was only a 10-minute drive from the beach, one story in a quiet street and on a corner block. We have made no changes to the property since moving in, but we did add to the family with our second son born in 2016. With two energetic boys renovating was a low priority, although we knew at some stage we would need to get the ball rolling. We do like to garden but the front yard quickly became hard to maintain with weeds coming through and the grass not surviving with the sandy soil. As we tend to enter via the rear of the home, it was also out of sight out of mind and not an immediate priority.
Having BH&G offer to makeover the front garden was pretty much like winning the lottery. We needed inspiration and expertise and someone to make decisions for us. Our brief to the production team was very laid back as we didn’t have preconceived ideas about what could work. We knew we wanted coastal style but we didn’t specify any further than that, except to say we had been thinking about incorporating shades of grey. We also love coastal landscaping but felt very limited with our sandy soil, which more resembled a sand pit. The production team seemed very happy that we pretty much left the creative vision to their discretion, as they were free to curate the space.
So how does the TV renovations process work?
The television production process was familiar territory for myself, as I work in the industry but there is 3 different phases:
- This is where the segment producer becomes your best friend and you work to flesh out all of the minor details. What the story angle will be, who is required for the shoot and the general plans for the renovation.
- There is a lot of production prep that has to happen (4-5 separate visits by the team) in terms of measuring the space, examining any damage that may need to be prepped prior to painting, assessing the existing plants, their health and which ones will suit the renovation style. Several were removed during the shoot but we had two massive camellias we removed before the cameras arrived, as the general public don’t like to see destruction of fully grown plants. (It was sad to take them out but well worth it!)
- All of the council approvals, insurances and any other paperwork is organised by the producer. Even down to advising the neighbours and sending them notices of when the cameras will be around.
- Paint colours are chosen by the creative team and run by us for a final OK.
- The run sheet is determined outlining detailed plans for the shoot day, and the presenters are confirmed. We had Jason Hodges heading up the landscaping and Tara Dennis for the front design and styling.
Renovations and filming begin!
So a little secret in terms of our segment production – although it appears to be filmed in one day on the show, it actually took a week for the renovation to be completed. How does this work? You only have the cameras present for day one and then they came back on the last day to film the ‘after’. This makes for an interesting production process. Day 1 the team start many small jobs and film the commencement of each. The bigger jobs are then left to be completed on the next shoot day, so you end up with many jobs ¾ done but needing completion. So for example the fence sat with a small section left to complete until the cameras came back, and they only did one lot of the wood panels on the front stoop.
Before we started:
We received a brief on some work that needed to be complete before the cameras started to roll. This included moving our huge camellias and cleaning down the fence and house with the karcher cpressure cleaner.
The Front yard is pretty overgrown, and we knew you could definitely improve on the fencing and the crooked front path that has annoyed me for four years.
Day 1: The reno and the filming begins
First up, my husband Stewart and I were asked to film a welcome segment where we greet Jason and Tara at the front gate to discuss the property and the ideas they have for improvement.Then, Tara and Jason shot the commencement of each of the different projects – clearing the front yard, prepping for painting, removing the existing fence and letterbox etc.
All up we had about 30 people on set including the presenters, the tradesman, the styling team, makeup, landscapers, camera and audio, and segment & project producers. They all arrived around 7am in the morning and left at 4pm when a storm hit shutting down the work. This put a little bit of pressure on the team, but they still managed to shoot most of what they needed.
Day 2 - All hands on deck!
This is where the amazing tradesmen start getting the bulk of the work done without the cameras to hold them up! There was a lot of painting and building taking place.
Our backyard became the storage and workshop space, as you can see on the picture below it was organised chaos!
We are very lucky we live on a corner block so it was super easy for the team to get access and leave their gear around the back.
Day 3: Colour Change
The paint really starts to make an impact. The grey is taking over from the awful beige and really bringing the coastal theme to life. The side fences are spray-painted and also look so much better against the existing greenery
Day 4: Windows Restored
The colours continue to have an impact with the home immediately looking more modern and clean. The windows are pulled out and the trims painted white removing the dark brown.
Day 5: Plants Arrive!
Painting continues and a beautiful array of full size plants arrive from the nursery. In preparation for tomorrows landscaping segment. Most of the jobs are about 80% complete, with room left to film the final touches once the cameras arrive tomorrow. We stopped looking out the front at this point so we would get a surprise with the final reveal!
Day 6 - Final Reveal
The entire crew arrives for the finishing touches, and final day of filming. Stewart and I head to work so the team can work their magic and complete the full project for the cameras. Once again it’s an early start with the team arriving at 7am, and we were not required back home until 4pm to shoot the final ‘reveal’ scene.
The landscaping is completed, the letterbox installed and the fencing finished. We were so shocked with the final result even though we had had a sneak peak through the week. Once it came together it really did transform the entire space. We especially loved the front porch area which was previously a blank space we didn’t use. Now it has great storage and is a welcoming entrance. The boys adore the front benches and like sitting out in the garden to watch the neighbourhood. (To see Tara’s styling and tips and how she created the front storage unit and coat hanger, watch the full segment here.)
Overall it was an amazing experience that has really increased our love of our home, and given us an amazing opportunity to apply the look and feel to the remainder of the property. The team very kindly gave us some advice on what they would do for other sections including the backyard and the back deck, and also generously left us enough paint to do the rest of the house in the same colours.