Dr Retro House Calls
Secret Design Studio’s “Dr Retro House Call” service was originally started to address the needs of people looking to renovate mid-century and post-war homes in a sympathetic manner.

From client feedback, I soon realized that this service had a much wider application for anybody needing a professional pre-renovation, design and building advisory service that visits you in your home.  This is especially true for people living in homes built in the 1980s which have their own set of challenges.  Today the service is available for anybody who is planning a renovation and who is seeking professional, independent and experienced advice.

For those clients who would prefer to not have a personal visit to their home for reasons of geography or health then Secret Design Studio offers a "Dr Retro Virtual Visit" service. Please visit our "Dr Retro Virtual Visit" page for more information:

Dr Retro Virtual Visit via Zoom


I ask each client to put together a list of the ten biggest and most pressing questions before the appointment.  Most couples find this exercise very valuable as it is often the first time that they have sat down together to work out what is important for them with their proposed renovation. Each Dr Retro House Call is carefully tailored for each client, so the advice is specific to your home and your situation.  Common questions range from “Should I knock down and rebuild?”, to “Should I extend upwards or outwards?”, to “How do I make my home more thermally comfortable in summer and winter?”, to “Should I render my home?” and even “What grey should I paint the exterior to get a Hampton’s style look?”.

Prior to each appointment, I spend 3 to 4 hours researching the answers to these questions.  Sometimes this involves researching real estate websites, referring to previous jobs, or accessing information from Secret Design Studio’s extensive library of books, periodicals, online library, material sample library and paint colour library depending on each client’s individual needs.

Generally speaking, those clients that put some thoughts together prior to the appointment with their top ten issues do get more out of an appointment than those that don’t.  I draw the most relevant resources together prior to each appointment when I know about what the client needs.  Secret Design Studio has metres of shelving for books, periodicals, and material samples and there is no practical way to bring it all along to every appointment.

The biggest benefit for most clients is that it is a big, positive step that they can take towards their renovation with confidence that they are going in the right direction.  On your renovation journey, there are thousands of big and little decisions to be made, with many decisions impacting on other areas.

Many people suffer from decision fatigue when it comes to starting a renovation as there are so many options. Some people start to procrastinate or get sidelined with small decisions before the big decisions are made.  For instance, some start selecting their bathroom tiles and tapware before they even have a floorplan designed, as these are easier decisions. They don’t know what they need to know until they need to know, and then learn that they don’t know anything about it!

Most appointments cover a design overview, priorities, budgets, order of construction, the order of selections, and how to source a good builder.  Every client gets the benefit of at least one new design idea that they hadn’t considered due to their lack of experience with designing renovations.  In addition, if there are specific questions about a detail, or material or even colour then this will be covered as well.

Professional fees depend on the scope of advice needed, the time required for preparation and your location.  Renovating is an expensive business, and even more so if the conception of the design is not right from the start.  Mistakes get more expensive to rectify as your project progresses.

Most appointments in your home last about two hours.  The minimum charge includes:

  1. Up to four hours of research prior to the appointment,
  2. Preparation of a 20-page "Talking Points" document based on the client's needs,
  3. Return travel time from Secret Design Studio to your home,
  4. Two hours appointment time in your home,
  5. Often a follow-up email with any additional information that was not on hand during the appointment.

For more information about preparing for a home visit,  gift certificates, regional and interstate appointments please download this pdf file called "What will I get out of a Dr Retro House Call?"

For regional and interstate areas please subscribe to our newsletter where upcoming trip dates are published:


Here is the link to provide your contact details to arrange an appointment time and quote: