You will probably know who she is by now. Rachel Collard is a powerhouse of a woman, with 3 boys, her own business R&Co Design Studio, and she’s been a busy little bee earlier this year getting her gorgeous Miss Morris ready for visitors. Rach is a bubbly and vivacious human, and Miss Morris is definitely a reflection of her colourful personality.
Can you tell us a little about your developing journey so far?
If I look back to my younger years, I’d say that I have always had a passion for renovating, interior design, building and construction. I remember constantly flicking through realestate.com and looking at floorplans to see how I could improve them. My room never stayed the same for more than a month. Forever moving furniture around and painting walls to reinvigorate the space and mood was so exciting.
What type of projects have you done?
My first real project was a house in Ashwood, Queensland, which I bought without even laying eyes on it – GASP! Deciding to relocate to Queensland with my then partner for a change of pace, I had somehow managed to convince my parents to help me buy a property to do up and live in. After gutting the property, I completely re-jigged the floorplan and enjoyed the 15m2, 3 bed, 2 bath and pool family home for 3 years before moving back to Melbourne and selling. In hindsight, buying a property which I did not see (and did not run any numbers on) was not the best move, but a huge learning curve. We were lucky we broke even!!!
Next up was what would become our “forever home” in Burwood. I knew straight away when I first saw the house that it had major potential and good structural bones. When I fell pregnant with my first child, we decided to forge ahead and renovate. This involved major planning, a complete redesign of the layout and flow, overseeing the project management of the whole build process (which included structural walls being removed) and was completed in 3 months (eeekkk – what a goal)! A huge accomplishment as I was working, studying AND 6 months pregnant.
In all honesty, I would not say I ran the figures on this build but, after 8 years we sold for double what we bought it for. Not the best investment as we poured about $250,000 into the entire renovation but, we came out unscathed.
Pretty lucky I think, considering on both these occasions I went in without a plan or much knowledge about what it meant to “develop for profit” and put the appropriate plans in place to make a good return.
After a few hairy and close calls, fast forward to 2020. I joined BuildHer Collective as an employee, working alongside some very talented and knowledgeable women. With this I learnt the importance of strategically buying property that would make a return. I put my money where my mouth is – investing in 2 joint ventures (BuildHer8 Rathmines and Simpsons Street Projects), which would see me return 20% on my investments within 2 years.
Why did you buy Miss Morris and how did this fit into your development plan?
Miss Morris. Wow! What a journey. I would say the years leading up to this moment were a huge learning curve and I felt ready to go it alone. In addition to this, I also grew my business to a point where I could service a decent loan to purchase my first development site.
I had been looking for quite some time and had been to 3 live auctions and had lost out. I was also looking around the Mornington Peninsula area as I could see the value of land and the potential development sites down there.
On 31st December 2021, I dragged my parents to view this quaint little beach shack, ripe for renovation, and instantly fell in love. 549 Esplanade (now known as Miss Morris) is in the perfect location! It’s across the way from Hawker Beach, 1km from Mount Martha Village, and a bus station that will get you to all the important places around the Mornington Peninsula – a hop skip and jump to all the famous wineries, hot springs, and local amenities the area is famous for.
What were you looking for from a family/developing perspective?
The original plan was to knock down and rebuild (yes – the numbers did stack up), however within the 6 month settlement (a decent amount of time to think and re-evaluate my personal life), I decided to turn her (yes the beach shack’s pronouns are “she” and “her”) into a cute little AirBnb Beach Shack! I reasoned with myself (after a lot more number crunching) that I could keep it to enjoy and build memories with my 3 boys, whilst still sharing the home and inviting other families in to also enjoy all Miss Morris has to offer.
What was it about this area that you were drawn to and how did you assess it’s potential?
3 words… Location, Location, Location. My mentors throughout the years have always drilled into me that when you are looking for the right property, you cannot go wrong if you buy within 1km of public transport, local shops and have easy access to great schools. Miss Morris ticked all the aforementioned boxes, however as a travel destination it had the added bonus of being across the road from Hawker Beach (famous off leash dog beach) and the Mount Martha Sailing Club.
From a development perspective, the land was a decent 510 sq.m. with a north facing front yard, which meant I could easily design a home to incorporate all of the views and Esplanade action which are perfect for a holiday destination. I spoke to numerous agents in the area and crunched numbers with my broker and accountant to make sure I was on the right track. The agent, Sam from Danckert, assured me, with the right home, this site had huge potential to be something amazing!
However, if I pare it back to bare basics, I would also say that my gut told me this site has huge potential!
Tell us about who you worked with and what you did?
Once I had made my decision to take this tired old beach shack and reinvent the wheel – I decided to go with a maximalist style (inspired by @loveandmutiny). Choosing this style afforded me the opportunity to create a space which was different, unique, packs a strong design punch, and one which you would not ordinarily experience on a day-to-day basis.
In this, I turned to some of my favourite suppliers, as I knew they would enable me to see my vision through. This included working closely with Haven Kitchens, which allowed me to create something special, even on my tight budget. I was able to use their modular carcasses with custom doors (Daylesford, Navy) and add other amazing pieces such as the Perini tile, Essastone reconstituted stone, Surround by Laminex panelling and Inalto Appliances to create a completely quirky kitchen.
Despite my budget and what would ordinarily be seen as a drawback, I was still able to create a high-end look (yep with all the bells and whistles including soft close drawers, integrated appliances and profiled doors and drawers – it looks spectacula
I splashed this home from top to bottom with Porters Paints – in every colour you could think of (well not quite. LOL). Some feature colours were Olive Grove (bunk room), Make Me Blush (walls and main bedroom), Tumeric (master bedroom ledge) Hailstorm (double bedroom and fireplace), Algerian Coral (feature dining wall and floors were in the delicious Glass House.
For the finishing touches, the styling was achieved with A LOT of facebook marketplace items such as the cane chairs and large armchair in the living room. But we were clever by teaming these items with loads of high end items such as the 3 seater retro couch in Magnolia by House of Orange, Cushions and Acyrlic Bar cart and artwork by Fenton & Fenton, Prints by Slim Aarons and some new, cost effective pieces like the kid-friendly timber IKEA bunk beds! Linen provided and styled with our very own Rebeka at BuildHer Collective and Alison Lewis from Alison Lewis Interiors and Society of Wanderers.
How have you created an experience for the people that stay there?
For most people, big colour is not a feature of their normal home environment, however Miss Morris is a colour bomb and a fun place to be. We love to say, “Happy Vibes for a Happy Stay”. We all love to walk into someone else’s life for a moment, and whilst this maximalist style may not be for everyone every day, it’s a fun place to be for a staycation. In winter it’s super cozy and fun to hang out in the lounge with the fire roaring (after a day out touring the wineries), and in summer, chill out on the balcony or on the massive front lawn for a cocktail (after a day at the beach across the road). It’s a super easy place to stay with comfy beds and great bedding – and that’s all we really want isn’t it?
Are you accepting bookings direct as well as AirBnB?
Yes, we are. Beauty is, you can book our little shack one year in advance, anytime you would like!
You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org via email or through the below booking sites.
Business: @randco.design.studio @missmorris_mtmartha
Stayz: www.stayz.com.au – Property ID 9758764
Booking.com: www.booking.com – Property ID 9279502 or Miss Morris