Now for their own finishing touches

After the television makeover, Matt and Cassie are planning to add their own style, writes Ben Waterworth.

ONE year ago Cassie Allan and Matt Smith had just bought a house and were looking forward to bringing their own sense of style to the property.

Fast forward 12 months and not only has the home been transformed in a stunning mix of retro style and modern convenience — but the couple has been thrust into the living rooms of every home around Australia via the TV reality show House Rules.

It was an unexpected journey for both Cassie and Matt, who went from the stresses of buying a new house to all new stresses of being reality TV celebrities.

“I’d kind of joked about going on The Block and shows like that because I’m into interior design and giving people tips,” Cassie said. “People would say I would be really good on something like that but you would never really do anything about it.”

One chance phone call later and the joke turned into something more.

“Our real estate agent called us and said they’d got an email from Channel 7 asking whether they’d sold any houses to young couples who really needed to renovate, and they thought of us straight away,” Cassie said.

They were soon on the phone to the network to speak with a casting agent who liked them enough to encourage them to apply for the third season of popular House Rules.

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House Rules, which ends on Monday on Southern Cross Television, features six teams who hand over the keys to their homes and leave their opposition to transform every room in their house in just seven days.

Guided by just five “house rules”, the teams are each designated zones in the house with the aim of achieving the most stunning reveals.

“They called us the day after we’d applied and the next thing they said was they were coming down to meet us,” she said. “At that stage we hadn’t even moved in yet. We had just signed the contract.”

Their house had been advertised as a home in a “rundown condition in need of a makeover” and the timing of the TV show couldn’t have been any more perfect for the couple.

Their three-bedroom house in a secluded Geilston Bay street had a large open backyard with space for a garden.

The oversized windows were the selling point, however, offering natural light in most rooms of the house and giving the property a warm vibe.

Cassie, a pharmacist, and Matt, a swimming instructor, knew they had their work cut out for them from the outset.

“We planned to just come in and paint it all because it was really awful,” Cassie said. “But when we knew we were going through [on the show] we thought there was no point us doing anything, so we just moved in as it was.”

The previous owners had lived in the house since it was built and it had stood empty for about six months before Cassie and Matt, who’ve been together for 10 years, moved in.

With a six-month filming period taking them away from their home and their jobs, they were able to knuckle down on the five rules they would give the five other competing teams when it came to doing over their house.

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“Part of the application process was creating mood boards for each room,” Cassie said. “The boards included pictures and colours and that kind of stuff, things that we kind of liked. We based our design around that.”

For two of their five rules the pair opted to focus on a nautical theme for the guest bedroom and give a “surfie feel” to the study.

“That kind of came up because we’ve taken up sailing,” Matt said. “We love the beach and water.”

He said they chatted to House Rules’ designer Carolyn Burns McCraveand and came up with some great ideas.

Their other three rules involved making a “conversation starter” out of the bathroom, keeping the renovation sophisticated and bringing a “modern take on a ’60s vibe”.

On returning home, they were satisfied with how the teams had transformed their property.

“It’s weird because things are sort of not what we would’ve done, but at the same time it’s so much better than what was here already,” Cassie said. “We wanted to keep the actual layout of the home because that was why we actually bought it. It flows and we’re really happy that they kept that. So we just restyled.”

One of the standout points of the renovation was the removal of the original ceilings in the bedrooms and study, which were replaced with raked ceilings and exposed beams. Other additions included a brand new deck with built-in wall bench.

The pair said the only changes they would make inside the home would be to repaint some rooms and remove the kitchen splashback.

Outside, however, was an entirely different story.

Given their elimination in the eighth week of House Rules, the couple missed out on the yard and house exterior being redone.

They said they were already putting the plans into motion to complete their perfect home.

“We like the look of the bricks and we don’t want to render,” Cassie said. “We’re going to paint it with a really light grey and replace all the cladding on the bit where they put the windows in and pitched the ceilings. Then we’ve got to tackle the garden. It has to be excavated, dug up and then we’ll start from scratch.”

For now, they hope to get back into their normal life and allow their house to be the celebrity instead of themselves.

This article was originally written for The Mercury

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