Secret Design Studio’s “Dr Retro House Call” service has just won a “Best of Houzz 2022”. So a big thank you to all of our lovely clients who booked a consultation and left positive reviews. Some of the feedback that I get from these appointments is that one of the unforeseen benefits is the discipline required that really makes a household focus on their biggest renovation issues. Before booking in an appointment there was a lot of overthinking, but not too much direction. In the early stages of a renovation there are a million questions, and this can be very overwhelming for a lot of people.
By booking in a “Dr Retro House Call” the clients need to focus on providing their most important ten questions to help provide direction or to progress to the next stage of the renovation. For a “Dr Retro Virtual Visit” via Zoom, where the appointment is limited to an hour, then the client needs to have a tighter focus as the number of key questions is limited to only five due to time constraints. So what types of questions do clients ask? This depends on what stage they have reached with their renovation journey. As you can see from the questions below some clients ask very broad questions as they are at the start of their mid-century renovation journey, others have made a start, but have reached a stumbling block, and others are trying to finalise everything and just need help with selections or paint colours.
As so many mid-century modern and post-war homes are too hot in summer and too cold in winter a lot of clients ask about how to make their homes more thermally comfortable over the year. The answer depends on the location, the orientation of the home, and how it was built, so the answer is usually different for every client.
Once the questions have been finalised by the client and sent to Secret Design Studio the preparation and research can commence finding the answers. I generally draw on our previous mid-century renovation projects, our extensive digital resources, and our collection of Australian “Home Beautiful” and “House and Garden” magazines from the 1940s, 1950s, 1960’s and 1970’s.
To give you an idea of the type of questions asked, here are the questions from three of our recent Canberra Dr Retro House Calls. Each client was at a different stage of their renovation journey, each had a very different house, and the nature of the questions reflect this.
DR RETRO HOUSE CALL CLIENT #1 AV JENNINGS SPLIT LEVEL, CHAPMAN, ACT CLIENT’S QUESTIONS RECEIVED PRIOR TO THEIR DR RETRO HOUSE CALL
“Hi Alistair Here are some things we’d like to discuss with you, pretty much in order of importance:
POSTSCRIPT “Thank you so much Alistair, it was so wonderful to meet you and hear about the different ways we can approach making our house more comfortable and suitable for our family. We learnt so much from you and greatly appreciate all the effort you’ve gone to that has allowed us to already benefit from your expertise and experience.
DR RETRO HOUSE CALL CLIENT#2 PETTIT AND SEVITT SPLIT LEVEL 1H CLIENT’S QUESTIONS RECEIVED PRIOR TO THEIR DR RETRO HOUSE CALL
“Hi Alistair It is a Split Level 1H with a family room extension off the kitchen which was done early on – early 80s I think. The biggest differences since the real estate photos are we have removed the kitchenette that was downstairs to convert it back to a living room and updated the back deck (removed green shade cloth and replaced railings).
Key questions are below. The upstairs bathrooms (last couple of questions) is the main area we want to do more significant renovations but I expect it will just be replacing fittings etc in place.
POSTSCRIPT “Alistair visited our 1970s Pettit and Sevitt home during his recent trip to Canberra. He came prepared with a stack of resources and patiently went through our laundry list of questions! It was fantastic to discuss our options with someone so knowledgeable about this type of home – often your average tradespeople just don’t ‘get it’ in terms of both the design and function of the house. We left the meeting feeling comfortable with our path forward and I think the cost of the consultation will be easily recouped by the savings from some of Alistair’s ideas and advice.” Google Reviews
DR RETRO HOUSE CALL CLIENT#3 HANCOCK, COURTNEY AND RENFREE ARCHITECTS, MID-CENTURY MODERN HOME CLIENT’S QUESTIONS RECEIVED PRIOR TO THEIR DR RETRO HOUSE CALL
“Hi Alistair Our house is a classic MCM House. Designed in 1967 by the architectural firm Hancock, Courtney & Renfree. The house is in almost original condition except for a sympathetic but poorly built extension onto the original kitchen and casual dining area. The block is just under 1700 sq meters. There is an original 1960s kidney-shaped pool and a pool room. We have the original plans however not with us at the moment. Our plans are to renovate the original kitchen, upgrade and modernise some of the rooms and do a simple extension that includes the master bedroom, walk-through robe, ensuite, main bathroom, and laundry. Our long-term plans also include updating the pool room with a shower & kitchenette. Then finally work on both our front and back gardens. All in all a large task!
We love the style and ambience of our house and we love living in it however upgrades are long overdue. We plan to improve the energy rating which is currently about -.5! 1. What is involved in improving the energy rating other than double glazing and insulation 2. Is it possible to install a reverse cycle aircon in a flat roof house? 3. Is it feasible to do the renovation & extension in stages or is it more financially logical to do everything at once? 4. Do you have a list of preferred tradespeople that you can recommend in the ACT? 5. Our house is double brick so obviously, we would want the extension to be double brick but that would be hard to match. So, would it be more aesthetically pleasing to contrast the bricks as opposed to trying to match or would it be better to render the extension and/or the whole house? 6. I have included two photos of the kitchen. The first photo shows the brick wall above the sink. My plan is to remove that wall a replace it with a cafe/ service type window. Do you think that is possible? The second photo shows the fan/extractor bulkhead and the brick support that houses the oven. My plan is to remove both those structures to create a more visually unobstructed space. Is it possible?”
What would be your ten key questions for Dr Retro to help you with your home renovation if you had an appointment next week? Link to Dr Retro House Call information If you would like to read about how Secret Design Studio’s “Dr Retro House Call” and “Dr Retro’s Virtual Visit via Zoom” service has helped mid-century homeowners around Australia please visit our “Wall of Love” page: Visit “Wall of Love” page