Margaret Thatcher once said, “If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.” A little harsh? Undoubtedly. Though we can’t help but think that the infamous Iron Lady – with the equally infamous fierce tongue – was onto something.
Two Sydney sisters certainly proving her point are Rebecca Campbell and Jane Stone. The former Police Officer and national sales executive decided to turn their love of art and reality reno shows into a successful home makeover business, squashing many stereotypes in the process.
Here, Rebecca shares her advice for renovating on a budget and why you should never underestimate a woman – especially one with a wrench in her hand.
Tell us how you got started.
I was working as a personal trainer at the time – having served 20 years in the NSW Police Force – and my sister, Jane, was working 16-hour days in an office. She’d always decorated and renovated her own homes – she was self-taught and did it to save money really – and I’d been interested in art and design since school so 12 months ago, we just decided, why not? We were big fans of all the reality reno shows and thought if they could do it, so could we. So Vivid House Doctors was born.
What do you do?
We focus on home improvement and do everything short of big, structural projects. We paint, we tile, we do bathroom renovations, kitchen renovations – basically everything interior and exterior that’s non-structural.
What’s the response been like?
This past year we’ve had an extraordinary response and transformed so many people’s homes. Helping people turn a house from an “ugly duckling” into a gorgeous home – that they can happily live in or sell for a huge profit – is invaluable to us.
Are people sometimes surprised when two female tradies knock on their door?
Yes, definitely. People can be apprehensive to start with and question whether two women are capable of such labour-intensive work. We just remind ourselves that it’s old school stereotyping that we’re helping breakdown. It’s so satisfying when you’re able to prove the critics wrong and show them that women can build and demolish and do everything that stereotyping says we can’t!
How has your background helped?
As a Police Officer you develop an ability to connect and access a situation really fast. It’s the same with this. You connect with people and quickly understand what needs to be done. That rapport that you build with people is transferable. From a client’s point of view, the trust and honesty that people place on my background is invaluable. For both of us, our skill set includes hard work, perseverance and good communication – and that seems to be really beneficial to our home makeover business.
What are your top tips for renovating on a budget?
Start small, be smart and keep things simple with cosmetic style changes first, then move onto the more dramatic changes if you need. Once you have a plan of what you want to achieve, do your research and talk to experts. They’ll help you access your options, figure out a schedule and most importantly – stick to your budget. The biggest mistake we see is a failure to plan, which leads to people going overboard and ending up with shock costs.
What’s the easiest way to add value to your home?
Kitchen and bathroom renovations never stop adding value. If you haven’t got $20K to do a major makeover, make cosmetic changes instead. Change the taps, update lighting, add a piece of artwork, paint the walls or tiles. A splash of colour – on the walls or from changing cushion covers – is another easy way to add value on a budget. It’s a simple change, but you’ll be taken back by the effect.
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