kitchen, bathroom & laundry blog
November 10, 2016

Josh & Jenna Discuss Their "Canning Cottage"

If you’re a fan of The Block, then you’ve definitely heard of design power couple, Josh & Jenna.

No strangers to being in front of the camera, Josh & Jenna premiered on The Block in 2011 and then reappeared on The Block All Stars in 2013. Lastly in 2015, Josh & Jenna were asked to be contestants in e&s sponsored, Reno Rumble.

In amongst all this activity, Josh & Jenna started their own style and design business ‘Bicker Design Co’, opened Design School in Abbotsford and launched a ‘Josh & Jennna Range’ at Beacon Lighting.

Their latest adventure is a complete renovation of their new home in Canning Street, North Melbourne, which has been cutely named ‘Canning Cottage.’ Splitting the house into a self-contained studio at the front, and a larger home behind, this couple knows how to make the most out of land.

We recently caught up with Josh & Jenna to find out more information on the Canning Cottage, tips on renovating, and their favourite e&s products for the build.

e&s: Tell us about the Canning Cottage. What do you know about it? What attracted you to it?

J&J: When we first saw Canning Cottage we fell in love with it because it looked like a humble looking weatherboard minors cottage, dwarfed in between two very large houses. The wide tree-lined street reminded us of the country town where we both grew up!

e&s: Are you renovating the whole cottage? If not, which rooms are you renovating?

J&J: We’re undertaking the renovation in two parts: the self contained studio/cottage is stage one. And stage two will be a larger contemporary dwelling built behind the cottage, separated by a large courtyard. The idea is to renovate the cottage and move into it while the rear dwelling is being built.

e&s: What kind of challenges have you had so far?

J&J: The cottage is only 8m x 4m and we’ve had to fit a kitchen, living, dining, built-in robes, laundry, bathroom and a bedroom – all within this tiny space.
We opened up the ceiling space and kept the area above the bathroom open so the whole cottage can share its natural light around!
We added in two skylights to assist us with light & ventilation. The abundance of natural light really makes the space feel a lot larger than what it seems on paper!
The kitchen has also been a huge focus for us as it is the focal point as you enter the house. We have made sure to integrate every appliance where possible and for the exposed appliances, like the oven, we have chosen a beautiful Gaggenau appliance with a soft grey finish to match our aesthetic, rather than the regular and heavier look of a black oven.
The right hinged door is also easier to use than a standard oven door because the oven is being installed in a walkway area.

e&s: Which skills did your learn on The Block, that are helping you in this renovation so far?

J&J: The show has taught us to project manage! We have been able to book in trades in advance so we can
try and beat the Xmas rush! The show has also helped us in our awareness for products like our underfloor coil heating to warm up our cold brick floors in winter!

e&s: Jenna, you own Design School, an interior design school in Abbotsford, what stage do you think you need to start thinking about the interior design when renovating?

J&J: It’s important to plan everything before you start! Knowing your budget, having moodboards in place along with samples of every tile, paint swatch, fabric and stone will really help to keep you on track! Last minute decisions can really ruin a good design! We always believe every detail matters; from furniture choices all the way to selecting the right plants!

Be sure to budget for styling items and furniture. You don’t want to be left with a beautifully finished renovation and have to compromise the look with cheaper furniture.

e&s: Do you both have distinct roles when completing a project like this?

Josh: Jen is great at 3D modeling and choosing the finishes, and I help out with the execution of the build. We both work together really well and compliment each other throughout the process. It helps to have the same aesthetic and attention to detail, we both say “if it’s not right, it’s getting redone, no matter what”. Canning cottage has been on the drawing board for over two years. The design has changed along the way but we feel we have both contributed equally to the process so far, from the design all the way to the renovation in its current stage. If you look at all the projects that we have completed you really can see the ‘Bicker aesthetic’, and Canning cottage is no different.

e&s: What are some e&s product that you can’t wait to have in your new home?

J&J: e&s have been such a great help in choosing the right products for the cottage. We had no idea there was so much to consider. We have always dreamed of having a Gaggenau oven in our house. We really appreciate the beautiful, simple design and love the fact it has a side opening door which is really practical.

The Fisher & Paykel Integrated Single Draw Dishdraw has helped us to maintain the aesthetic and detail what we were after in the kitchen. We have really high kickers on the kitchen to create the illusion of extra floor space. This meant that a standard double draw dishwasher wouldn’t fit. The integration is important too as we really want the main part of the kitchen to be all oak, with no breaks in the cabinet

e&s: What do you think are the benefits of having beautiful appliances in a home?

J&J: I feel like choosing the right appliances is really important. Appliances should be considered with the finishes in a home to ensure the entire design concept works together.

They shouldn’t be an afterthought and now with the addition of so many different colours, finishes and brands, there is something to suit every aesthetic and requirement.

e&s: What are your 5 top tips before starting a renovation?
1. Before starting a renovation you need to PLAN. Plan your design, your build process and your budget.
2. Document everything. When dealing with trades , architects, planning officers etc. it’s really important to ensure you cover yourself and the conversations had are accurately documented. You never know when you’ll need to refer back to this.
3. Get a list of trusty, recommend trades. If you have a bad feeling, move on. There are lots of great tradies out there, you just need to find one that works for you. If you find good ones, look after them.
4. Be realistic. Realistic with timeframes and budget; there’s no point rushing things and getting frustrated at the rain. You need to allow for things to go wrong.
5. Talk to your neighbours. You never know when you’ll need them on your side so keep them informed.

e&s: What do you do when planning a renovation (eg mood board, visit favourite stores for inspo etc)?

J&J: The first step is a mood board to ensure we have a clear vision of a look and feel of what we are trying to achieve. Shopping without a mood board is like shopping blind, too many options and far too overwhelming.
Then I start to sketch the space. Sketch up is also a great tool to visualise the space.
Once we have an idea on look and feel and the layout, we then start collating samples of materials and furniture ideas.
I continue to update the mood board accordingly and sketch actual pieces into place until we are happy with the final design.

Stay tuned, we’ll be showing you what the Canning Cottage will look like when it’s finished, but until then, here are some images of the original home.


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