We put a shout out for questions about life in the dream house (Sophie’s, not Barbie’s!) and have been inundated with messages and questions. Soph’s not going to get through them all but we’ve read every single one of them and we really appreciate your lovely comments!

So, without further ado, here’s your top 20 most asked questions, answered by the lovely Sophie Bell herself:

1. The built-in window seats are such a good idea in the kids’ rooms, but how do you go without opening windows? I’m forever opening my kids’ windows!

I wanted the window seats to be a feature in the rooms, but they needed to be really practical too. You know how much I love Scyon Axon cladding so we used it in here to line the window seats to create a distinct border and make a big statement in these rooms. We also ran the lines from the ceiling down the window seat for a continuous flow - we went without the faux beams in here as there was enough going on already.

We sit and read stories here, or lie in the afternoon sun, with no chance of kids climbing/falling out windows! Opening windows would have changed the whole look of the window seat so instead, we installed mechanical ventilation in the ceilings and it feels fresh as a daisy in there.

2. I’m in love with your wardrobe! Please tell me where you got that gorgeous little rattan cupboard?

Isn’t it the cutest?! It’s from House of Orange. Check them out, they’ve got so many goodies, like the corner sofa and rug in our media room which are from there too.

Top Tip: Looking for something you’ve seen in a Three Birds reno? You can always find it on the ‘Get the look’ pages on the Three Birds website.

3. Warm or cool lighting – which did you choose? Which do you recommend?

Guess what? We didn’t have to choose! We went with Smart Lighting from Beacon Lighting which means that we can change from cool to warm at the swipe of an iPad screen. It’s so clever! We can even change to any colour in the rainbow and put on a disco for the kids, Hendrix thinks it’s so fun to put all the colours on.

If you do have to choose one or the other, we always recommend warm lighting.

4. Wow, you’ve got so many windows. Do you have coverings for all of them?

In a bid to make our home a little eco-friendlier, we decided to go without air-conditioning and electric heating. So that means insulation was a biggie for us, through Greenboard exterior, insulated ComfortPlus glass from Viridian and of course our actual insulation in the walls and ceilings. We also chose great quality window coverings in all the living spaces and bedrooms.

Here’s what we chose and why:

Kids’ Rooms & Media Room – Luxaflex Duette. We wanted discreet blinds that could be recessed into the window seats in the kids’ rooms, with great insulation to keep them cosy when they’re sleeping. They also provide total block out so they’re perfect in the media room as well. The blackout works so well, once the kids are asleep we want them to stay asleep!

Master Suite – Luxaflex Pirouette. They’re amazing for controlling light. We can choose to filter the light and keep the room nice and cool in summer, or keep them fully shut to keep the warmth in in winter. We have them open in the day and just pop them down at night.

Living Room & Guest Bedroom - Luxaflex Veri Shades. They’re so beautiful and whimsy! And really flexible too. When they’re pulled closed you can still position them to see the view, it’s great for filtering the sun in the late afternoon.  The softness of the fabric is so stunning, even when they are drawn it adds a gorgeous dimension to the styling.

5. Where did you get the brass door hinges and locks from? I’m desperate to find out. 

These ones? Aren’t they fab? We couldn’t find them anywhere so we had them made ourselves. But you’re in luck… you can buy them on my website here, so you can have the same!

The lock for the front door is from Hardware Box and the internal doors we used a rolling style mechanism, I wanted brass so had to source these from the UK an online store called Handles 4 Doors - this place was the best I could find colour-wise and price-wise.

6. Where’s the AC unit hiding?

Haha, there’s no magic there… we don’t have any air-conditioning! We were super confident that the building materials we chose were so well-suited for the climate and for superior insulation, we decided to go without air-conditioning altogether.

It’s also our way of helping to tread a little more gently on our earth. You can read about the eco-friendly elements of our house here. We have fans in every room and doors in every room except the kids’ bedrooms, so plenty of beautiful fresh air circulating.

7. How do you keep white so clean?!

I’m with Bonnie on this one, I truly believe that white is easier to keep to clean than darker colours. We have always had white houses and furniture - there’s nothing some Napisan cannot get out! We always choose durable materials and sofa covers that can be washed. I’ve got a strict ‘no eating on the sofa’ rule so Hendrix always sits at the bench for his meals and snacks. And our doggies are not allowed on the furniture.

The white walls are Dulux Wash&Wear, which means it’s easy to wipe off messy little fingerprints.

I also find the Voss floors from Woodcut don’t show dirt at all, they have a grain texture in them which hides it. Once the kiddies are in bed I do a quick zip around the main area with the Dyson and put away any toys that are out…. oh, and on the subject of toys, I’ve had a few questions about where all the toys are at. Hendrix has a huge pull out drawer under his House of Orange bunk bed, we keep all his toys in there and have a small basket in the lounge room with his most fave toys for the week. That way there’s only a handful of things to pick up at the end of the day and it keeps the lounge clean.

8. What kind of IKEA robes were used in the bedrooms? Did you get them fitted by a pro?

We used and love the IKEA Pax wardrobe system. You can choose any combo to fit your space. I like to have my accessories easily accessible so I chose lots of display drawers so I can see everything in front of me when I’m getting ready.

In the kids’ built-in robes, we used the Elvari system but chose to customise them by adding our own doors and handles.

There is a small walk in robe in the guest room and again in there we used the Pax system in there.

We also used IKEA in the office cupboards, mixing it with the concrete top and gorg handles it makes it all feel a little more luxe.

IKEA were so helpful, I went in-store with my measurements and they have a program you can make your selections in. Then they give you a code and you can go home and make any adjustments you want to your design using that unique code.

We paid the extra fee for IKEA to build the wardrobes on site. We had 4 tonnes of cabinets delivered, so I think my husband and I would have got divorced if he had to build it all!

We are really happy with the quality and would definitely use it again.

9. Did you install a sprinkler system?

Yes! We installed an Envirocycle system which collects wastewater from the bathrooms, kitchen and laundry and treats it in an underground tank. It’s then used to spray on the garden for irrigation.

10. Where can we buy your Mum’s artwork?

Aw, you guys are so sweet! Pop on over to her website, she’d love to hear from you. Fill out a contact form with what you are after and she’ll get back to you.

11. Paint colours please!

I went with Bonnie’s fave, White on White by Dulux for the whole interior. We used the same colour for walls, ceiling, architraves and skirting.

On the exterior it’s all Dulux Casper White Quarter, including the pool wall, deck and the pavilion.

12. How long did the total build take?

The build itself took 12 months from start to finish. There was lots of work done before that, preparing the site as it had never been built on before and getting council approvals.  We purchased the block in Jan 2017 and started designing straight away.


13. Can I see a close up of the architraves you chose, please?

Of course! These beauties are from Intrim and they’re the same profile as the skirting, just not as tall. We wanted something simple to suit the Mediterranean vibe of the house.

14. Where are all the gorgeous furnishings from?

So many gorgeous places! And you can find them all in the Get the Look section of our website.

Happy shopping! x

15. Can you help put inspo boards together? Or just come and style my house exactly the same as yours?!

I’m sorry lovely but, as much as we’d love to, we don’t have the time to do consulting work. But all is not lost! The Three Birds created The Reno School to help as many people as possible with their own projects. It’s definitely worth checking out! I’m a mentor in the group and we do lots of work on creating vision boards in the course. The private Facebook group is also fab for helping with inspiration and support for nailing your dream vision. We have 3500 students on there all working on each other’s projects.

Our next course starts on 7th October and we’ve love to have you join us. All the info is available here.

16. When designing a new build, where do you even start?

Great question! So great that we’re busy writing a whole new module for The Reno School on this very topic! It’s still a work in progress, but the draft goes something along the lines of: location, location, location… budget, budget, budget… plan, plan, plan. We promise it will be way more enthralling and informative than that, but yes, it’s coming!


17. Can you still achieve a Mediterranean look without a flat roof and arched windows?

Good question! If you’re renovating an existing house it may not be possible to achieve a flat roof or curved windows, like we could with our new build. I’ve seen plenty of homes with pitched roofs, but the curved shape does seem synonymous with the Mediterranean style. I suggest Googling Spanish and Italian villas and picking the ones you love to help create a vision board for your renovation. Perhaps you could replace your front door to add the curves? Or even add a curved window above an existing front door? At the end of the day, your vision board should dictate what your finished project should look like, so start by gathering your inspo pics and let that be the final answer to your question. Hope that helps!

18. How have you done the white flooring on the downstairs terrace? Is it concrete? I love it!

Oh, thank you! Yes, it’s concrete, painted with a paving paint in the same colour Dulux Casper White Quarter as the rest of the exterior. Concrete and rendered surfaces were super important to bring my Mediterranean vision to life so we added them wherever possible – even our pool coping is rendered and painted white.

19. What’s your favourite room in the house?

Don’t make me choose! It I have to, it’d be our master suite. We love waking up the view of the rainforest every morning and showering on the terrace, it is all our favourite hotels rolled into one dream bedroom. I still wake up every morning and cannot believe it’s real.

20. Can you please do a house tour?

Yes! I’ve done a house tour and you can find it on our Instagram feed @threebirdsrenovations or on the IGTV app for Three Birds Renovations.