Building houses to bring people together
DevelopHer Yolanda’s Northcote oasis is a sight to behold. She certainly doesn’t shy away from a challenge, even when it is as far removed from her day job as possible! Both career driven individuals, Yolanda Aarons and her partner work by day in senior roles in Melbourne’s private hospitals, yet have managed to complete a number of successful renovations out of hours.
Joining us in 2019 for the DevelopHers Masterclass as she was part-way through her renovation journey, it’s safe to say this is a positive tale of pivots.
Her gorgeous home at 123 Clarke Street, Northcote is finished and on the market through Jellis Craig Inner North, and about to be the centre of someone else’s world. Yolanda shares her vision and journey with us in this blog. A wealth of knowledge Yolanda generously shares her experiences, tips, and lessons with other BuildHers and DevelopHers in our private FB groups.
People build for many reasons, yet for Yolanda and her family, it’s always been to create spaces to suit the individual personalities and priorities of her family members. Admitting she’s “always found it harder to live in houses that we haven’t created ourselves.”
We see our time at home and our time together as a family as precious. Whether it’s a midweek movie night, spontaneous BBQ, a long bike ride along the Merri Creek trail or jumping in the pool for what seems like the whole weekend.
This house was built with the sole intention of bringing us closer together as a family and make every moment count.
By the same token, a style of home that was once the perfect fit can be easily outgrown as children become young adults.
“Like a hermit crab grows out of its shell we find ourselves with our needs changing to a pre-teen household where smart technology and self-contained living is the key to one’s sanity!”
The vision for yolanda's northcote oasis
Yolanda originally purchased Clarke as a knock-down number yet spending some time with BuildHer. Considering her renovation journey and doing the DevelopHers Masterclass changed her perspective.
“After becoming involved with BuildHer Collective I have developed a new found appreciation and respect for the character and charm of a traditional home and the rest, as they say, is history.”
Drawing inspiration from social media and Pinterest, Yolanda has also been deeply influenced by her travels and experiences. Citing their family trip to the Mediterranean as inspiration for lighter colour tones, Terrazzo and olive trees, Yolanda also tied in a memorable shade of purple named Klavier that she discovered once upon a time at an art exhibition.
I strongly believe that when building a home, if your decisions are consciously made with love and attention to detail, it will captivate your audience just like words of a beautiful poem or notes from your favourite song.
“I was always naturally drawn to Bellemo and Cat Architects. Becoming infatuated with a project where they teamed up with Buildher Collective to create what I would consider one of the most emotive pieces of architecture in the inner north. The brief to Bellemo and Cat Architects was basically to capture two elements. The Melbourne city skyline and also the park from various zones of the house, while respecting the original heritage.”
Yolanda wanted to maintain a connection to the past after discovering some of the history of the site.
Trawling through the local and state archives to research the history of the property also meant we felt compelled to pay homage to the original owner (a local metal worker). We referenced this through the use of brass and steel throughout the home.
the challenges of yolanda's renovation journey
One of her greatest challenges (as many of us have experienced) was winning over her neighbours.
Yolanda was ready for a challenge with a vast block and a fall of 5m across the site in her hands. Choosing to instead embrace the journey, Yolanda says “the prospect of creating a terraced design with ample light and space that would be able to capture city views to the south and park views to the north is something beyond unique. It’s lighting in a bottle.”
Yolanda’s build Instagram page @123_clarke shows just how extensively this hundred-year old home was gutted before given the aesthetic it deserves. Claiming to be a very private person for the most, part, Yolanda has greatly enjoyed documenting the renovation journey. Sharing helpful tips with others while enjoying a cathartic release and plenty of support and encouragement via her Instagram, was an outlet on an oftentimes stressful journey. For the most part, Yolanda loves the process.
My favourite days would be when big ticket items arrived on site. It’s like seeing a giant piece of the puzzle fall into place. Steel being lifted in, the day the slab was poured, and of course, what is any good renovation journey without the day that the glazing gets installed.
Concrete is one of my all-time favourite hard finishes.
“This time, I knew I wanted to do an exposed aggregate but I still wanted to challenge myself, so it wasn’t like any concrete slab that people had seen before. Softening the look and feel of what is traditionally a very masculine approach to a floor. I did all sorts of research, both online and travelling to commercial spaces around Melbourne that were pushing the envelope on polished concrete.
What I took away from all that research was three elements that I thought would make the concrete more effeminate; green glass, shell grit and a brass inlay.”
“These three components then formed the theme that was carried through the rest of the house. Expect to see splashes of green, along with brass and shell inlays throughout. I then had to import various sizes, shapes and shades of glass and shell to ensure that I was going to get the right look and feel.
Same story for the brass size and thickness. These components had to not only look beautiful, but also function – there’s no going back once the slab has cured. What we ended up with is something of a major talking point when people enter the living area. Yes, I am proud of the result, but what is more gratifying to me is the knowledge that the time, love and effort that was invested into the decision was well spent.”
Yolanda’s preserved and restored every feature that is worthy of stepping into the home’s next century of life. Her respect for what stands is met in equal energy with her passion for creating a warm and loving home to bring her family together.
Regularly sharing little gems on her Instagram, Yolanda has plenty of tips to share!
“My biggest pearl of wisdom would be to pace yourself. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. If you’re proactive and prepared for a long timeline, then that’s half the battle won.
Set out realistic targets, so you, your family and your trades have a common goal and everyone is on the same page.
My other advice would be to try and refrain from criticism, both of yourself and of the team. Well, until you truly get the hang of things, and even then, every project is so unique it will throw up different challenges.
We are so used to looking at the most beautiful images online and in magazines, and we really take ourselves to task if our homes don’t turn out the same.
In reality, our budgets, timelines and experience do not hold a candle to that of the big name interior designers, architects and builders so I’ve learnt to be kinder to myself and take those images with a grain of salt. Yes, it’s good to be inspired, but don’t drown in your own expectations that everything should be perfect. You can’t bake a cake without breaking eggs!”
what's next for DEVELOPHER yolanda?
Yolanda thinks her next project might be a little bit smaller in scale to support a little (and much-needed) leisure time! Not ruling out an interstate or even a dream overseas project, building for clients, or teaming up with other women in the BuildHer Collective, Yolanda has an open mind. Happy to enjoy her new home for now, in the back of her mind Yolanda is ALWAYS thinking about her next renovation journey.
Once you’ve been empowered to create your own space once, something bespoke to your family and how you live, it’s very hard not to repeat the process.