Redefining Spaces: A Journey of Transforming Dreams into Reality

Meet Emily Nair, a passionate force in the design and construction industry. Her story is one of determination, breaking barriers, and transforming dreams into reality.

On May 27th, Emily made a big move by buying an apartment that changed everything. It all started with a conversation that got her thinking. She talked about her love for fixing up homes, and someone asked her why she wasn’t doing it already. That got her fired up. On a whim, she checked out an apartment that same day, and bam! She knew it was her chance.

At the auction, she stood tall, doing something she’d never done alone before: bidding and negotiating. It was a huge deal for her, taking charge of her dreams. Just 28 days later, the place was hers. It wasn’t just a purchase; it was the start of her dream gig—making homes awesome and filling them with new stories.


The project began with an ambitious vision—to infuse love and life into a space that had stood desolate for years. It was more than just renovations; it was about restoring a sense of home, ensuring that the apartment resonated with warmth and comfort. Emily aimed to create an ambiance that whispered stories, where the very essence of the space felt inviting from the moment one stepped through the door.


As the project unfolded, feedback became Emily’s guide. The real estate agent’s words echoed her aspirations—the place had an indescribable aura that captured attention. Witnessing the reactions of those who experienced the transformation firsthand, like her long-time electrician, added layers of confirmation. Their genuine appreciation and the way they connected with different elements within the space affirmed that the soul she envisioned for the apartment was indeed coming to life. These small, unspoken gestures served as affirmations, validating that the journey was steering towards the envisioned destination.

Navigating Highs and Lows in the Journey

In running the project, Emily brought her unique approach shaped by years in a male-dominated industry, where finding her voice had been a continual challenge. In an environment that often urged a more masculine communication style, she embraced her feminine essence for the Balwyn renovation. Her approach was intuitive, allowing flexibility within a loose schedule, meeting trades on-site to gauge their vibe and establish collaborative connections.

The project’s highs were found in the people she encountered—the tradespeople she collaborated with and the vision that gradually took shape. However, navigating the fluctuating schedules of some trades posed the biggest challenge. Constant changes in start and finish dates disrupted the project’s flow, causing a ripple effect among other trades. The added responsibility of communicating these shifts to the team was a hurdle she found particularly trying.

Emily’s drive was fueled by a lifelong dream, an unwavering passion to bring life back to neglected spaces.

“It’s always been my dream, and after having proven to myself that I can do it on my own, HELL YES, I’m ready to go with the next one.”


Managing the Project as a Single Mum

Managing the project as a single mum with two boys was a collaborative journey. Her sons, aged 12 and 17, played integral roles, each contributing uniquely to the endeavor. The eldest son became her steadfast support, offering a helping hand with physical tasks while showcasing patience and perseverance on-site. Their shared moments were more than construction; they were invaluable opportunities for bonding and learning. He also provided valuable insights, acting as a trusted confidant during challenging situations.

On the other hand, her younger son brought a different perspective, focusing on design and strategy. Together, they navigated the project, each member contributing in their own way. The experience wasn’t just about renovations; it was a transformative period that brought perspective and clarity on life’s priorities.

Throughout the journey, her youngest noticed her joy. His observation—”you seem really happy”—underscored the essence of the entire project. Beyond the tangible outcomes, she was proud that her boys were part of her happiest moments, witnessing firsthand their mum immersed in what truly brought her to life.

Trades and Supplies

Throughout the project, Emily found several key trades and suppliers instrumental in its success:

  • Peaco Plumbing: This trade stood out for their impeccable organization, reliability, and excellent communication. Their support and reliability were invaluable to the project’s smooth operation.
  • ABI Interiors (plumbing fixtures) and Passio Interiors (door handles): Emily was particularly impressed by their exceptional products, swift turnaround times, and remarkable customer service. Their contributions added immense value to the project’s overall success.

These trades and suppliers played pivotal roles in ensuring not only the delivery of quality products and services but also in maintaining consistent communication and reliability, contributing significantly to the project’s achievements.

The Learning Curve

Emily’s learning curve was steep and incredibly enlightening:

As a Building Designer, she had taken for granted the assumption that all trades possessed the same level of expertise in interpreting construction drawings and documentation. This project taught her to appreciate the varying levels of familiarity trades have with different sets of instructions, especially when juggling multiple jobs concurrently. The realization of time being synonymous with money underscored the importance of clarity in communication.

She swiftly grasped the significance of meeting trades on-site at the project’s initiation. Being available for real-time queries proved instrumental, especially when nuances specific to each project’s documentation required clarification. Additionally, she found herself multitasking—managing on-site tasks while handling constant phone calls and administrative duties, a skill set she swiftly honed during the project.

What would you say to anyone thinking of joining BuildHer Collective?

“Being surrounded by other women who are either going through the journey or have been through is honestly invaluable. And of course, the knowledge and expertise of the BuildHer team, I don’t know why you’d do it any other way.”

You can catch Emily’s project updates and insights on her Instagram @emilynair_design. For a full view of her work and how she can help with projects, visit her website at There, you’ll find the latest info and details on collaborations, making it easy to connect and explore ideas for your own projects.


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