This blog post was written as part of a competition sponsored by ProBlogger, Shoebox Timeline and The Good Guys, in the lead up to the Problogger Event for 2016 (now one of my fave events to attend!)
The competition asks “What inspires my blog?” So this is the story of what inspired Undercover Architect to begin, and what continues to inspire my blogging on UA … week after week.
Here’s the slideshow I prepared on Shoebox Timeline. It’s my first time using it, and so far, I like it! I can see it as a great tool to quickly and simply knock together slideshows to share with friends online – and I love telling the story of Undercover Architect this way. Keep reading to learn more of the story behind these piccies …
Once upon a time …
Over the years of I’ve worked as an architect, I’ve helped countless clients renovate and build their homes.
I worked for a large developer, and got to see my designs built at huge volume, shaping suburbs of Brisbane.
My hubby and I also undertook three renovations of our own. Our three children all got used to renovating being our lifestyle, their homes being construction sites, and they learnt to climb ladders before they walked.
Believe me, I loved helping homeowners with their individual projects.
Yet, as time went by, I found I was having the same conversations with people.
I’d be at a BBQ, someone would hear I was an architect, and then proceed to share their woeful tale of renovating or building. The budget blowouts, the time overruns, how stressful it had been, and how much they’d underestimated the complexity of the process.
Sometimes they were happy with what they’d finished up with. Other times they felt that they’d just not reached the home’s full potential, but they’d got too fed up, or exhausted to keep pushing. And occasionally, someone would unfortunately tell me that there were lots of things they’d do differently.
Occasionally I caught them at the beginning of their process. I’d give a super fast, chunky download of tips, tricks and ideas. “Understand how the sun moves” was one … “Get all your preparation done before you start on site” was another … and they’d happily go on their way feeling more confident about the overwhelming task ahead of them.
And then I’d go back to my work, helping one home at a time, one client at a time.
A change was brewing …
In 2013, I had a big year. Personally and professionally. It started with a personal tragedy, and culminated with a trip to Uganda, with The Hunger Project and Business Chicks, to meet people courageously (and against all odds) ending their own hunger and poverty.
I saw, in person, what happens when you educate and empower someone to believe things can be different.
That they can change, and be in charge of their own journey.
That they can have a say, and make a difference, and reach a different destination.
I met a woman named Kevin (yes, Kevin!). Her big smile caught my attention, as well as her two young children. I had left my own three young children back in Australia with my husband, and was missing them terribly.
Her kids didn’t look well – they looked like they had malaria. She had one beside her and one in a sling on her back. I asked her how old they were.
The child beside her was 4, and the one on her back was 18 months old. Now the 4 year old was smaller than my 2 year old at home … and the 18 month old about the same size my kids were at 9 months.
She was 38 years old, and these were the two youngest of 8 children she had, one of which had died. She was supporting her whole family, and 5 extended family members.
It’s hard to describe, but in that moment, something stopped. It was almost like things were in slow motion. She was speaking with pride and confidence about her achievements, and how much The Hunger Project had changed her life.
And I was just in a state of shock. She was 38 and a mum. I was 40 and a mum.
In that moment, I realised that had the universe played out differently, I could have been standing in her shoes and she standing in mine.
Here was this woman, with fire in her eyes and pride holding her chin, working against enormous adversity, generations of hopelessness, overcoming massive obstacles with determination and defiance … to completely change her family’s future – for generations.
And here was I … with all my privilege, opportunity, education and good-fortune, putting every excuse in front of me to not change mine.
A shift in perspective …
I came back home to my hubby and 3 small children. I looked at all our dreams we had been delaying because we weren’t ready … financially, career-wise, personally.
I looked at the business I was a co-owner of, and questioned if it was creating a path I wanted to be on.
And I looked at myself, and all the excuses I was creating for not living the life I really wanted to …
A family-centred, flexible life, where I was really making a difference to how people live in – and beyond – their homes.
Living and working in a way that would make a big dent on how Australians create, and live in their homes, and also enable me to be the wife and mum I wanted to be.
Needless to say, things had to change …
Within a week of my return, I told my business partners (who were also dear friends of 12 years) that I would be leaving our business.
My hubby and I sold our third renovation project – a 100m2 home we turned into a 400m2 home (and had almost keeled over in the process).
We decided to make our dream a reality. To move to the Byron Hinterland. To slow life down. To have space and time and togetherness.
Seven months later, we were in our new home. Jobless but SO excited (and a little terrified).
This is now …
So I started Undercover Architect. This business was (and is) my way to bring change, education and empowerment to the way Australians create and transform their homes.
Because this is my ultimate hope and dream for you – to have a home that inspires you, restores you, and supports you being the best version of you.
And that we live in streets, neighbourhoods and communities where everyone’s homes are doing just this.
Can you imagine what’s possible for us, if we’re all being the best version of ourselves?
So what inspires my blogging?
I see my blog as a tool that enables you to access freely available, super helpful knowledge, experience and expertise that can make a huge difference to how you create and plan your home. And also make a huge difference to how you feel whilst you do it, and what it costs you in time, money and effort.
And I see my blog as a vehicle to allow me to work from home, around my family, and not worrying too much about ‘looking professional’.
Confession: I recently purchased a pair of knee-high ugg boots. I get to wear them a LOT. It’s awesome.
I’m passionate about design and the difference it can make to your life. Design that makes your life better, simpler, more convenient, more beautiful.
And I’m passionate about levelling the playing field. About great quality architectural help and advice not just being for rich people. About helping you avoid overwhelm, or having to make expensive mistakes and be bamboozled or misled. And about you having the tools you need to unlock the potential for your home.
Each day, you, the gorgeous UA Community inspire me to keep blogging …
As you ask questions, send me thanks and feedback, and show that this blogging caper (one I’m still fairly new at) is helping you in planning your future homes.
Helping you feel confident and in control.
Helping you save time, money and stress.
And most importantly, helping you get it right.
I still think of Kevin frequently, and I have her photo on my wall. She was the catalyst, the teacher and the inspiration for so much change and transformation in my life and my family’s lives.
My family, and where we live, motivate me to make Undercover Architect work as a business … and being the go-to place for anyone planning a future reno or new home.
But you, my renovating and building friends … HELPING YOU is what inspires me to keep me blogging.
Because your home is important.
You are important.
So, if it’s ok with you …
I’ll keep typing my little heart out, carrying words of encouragement and assistance across the interwebs to you. Cheering you on, supporting you, being Your Secret Ally … as you embark on the adventure that is renovating and building, and making your home, and your life, better.
The program I did was called the Business Chicks and The Hunger Project Leadership and Immersion program, and you can read more about it here.
Other blogs you may find useful …
I wrote this one after I attended 2015’s Problogger event to highlight some of the other awesome home bloggers I met.
After meeting Nicole Cox, the Builder’s Wife, at Problogger’s event last year, I had to ask her for her top tips for pain-free renovating and building.
And after also meeting Gina Ciancio of Style Curator at last year’s Problogger event, I couldn’t wait to share her learnings from her experience of building her own home.