Blind faith put in home experts for new show
THE stakes have never been higher for Shaynna Blaze.
The interior designer and Weekend columnist has helped more than 100 home owners renovate and sell their unwanted properties on Selling Houses Australia.
Her constructive feedback has also helped contestants on The Block achieve multi-million dollar results at auction.
But in her new TV show, Buying Blind, families' life savings and her professional reputation will hang in the balance.
In the TV experiment, six families entrust Shaynna, buyer's agent Rich Harvey and builder Marshal Keen with their life savings to find, buy and renovate their dream homes.
Ranging from first-time buyers to young families looking to up-size, and with vastly different budgets, they're all disillusioned by Australia's aggressive real estate market.
"This is a project I seriously couldn't say no to. It's such a unique concept," Shaynna tells Weekend.
"Also, I get to actually do more creative design than I do in my business. We're not doing up to sell; this is about the dream and the home they want to stay in."
It's a risky prospect for all involved. The home owners have to give up complete control while the experts have to identify and deliver on their expectations.
"They handball the stress and all of a sudden it's all up to us now. There's a lot of anxiety and stress in that," Shaynna says.
"You're trying to get as much out of the budget as you can, but you've got to look at compromise. Each house is so different.
"Sometimes we went over the allotted amount just to secure the property and I had less to work with. We had a few houses where we had to have a council application involved and that pushed us to the wire. A few weeks or a month isn't a lot in the scheme of things."
Picky home owners would seem like an interior designer's worst nightmare, but Shaynna says it's the opposite.
"There were a couple of people who had no idea," she says.
"You want them to fall in love with it, but it's hard when people have a brief of 'I don't know'.
"Then we had two families who had a certain look in mind and they had pictures, but once I started breaking down what it meant they actually questioned what their style was.
"The last thing you want is for someone to be disappointed. I want to make sure they're jumping up and down with joy."
Shaynna reveals the families are not only buying blind, they auditioned for the show blind as well.
"When these people signed up they didn't know I was involved," she says.
"They signed up not knowing who any of the experts were.
"I looked at this as an opportunity for people to go out of their comfort zone of what they wanted.
"When people come to me for a design they want something unexpected.
"I've made some incredibly bold choices, and there were quite a few times where the home owners looked at it and just had to process it. If they want to move things or change things, that's fine. I'm never going to get it 120 per cent right. I'd like to think I get it 90 per cent right."
She hopes to inspire viewers to see the potential in properties they may otherwise overlook.
"It's easy to get caught up in the final look," she says.
"I remember when I started 20-plus years ago, it was very easy to see the ugly duckling. Now we live these crazy lives where people are so time poor, they can't see past the new.
"On this series we're showing a lot of ugly ducklings. I hope people can start looking at property differently.
"People will get to see where you should and shouldn't put your resources. Even if you're on a budget, it's not always about cheap alternatives. You can also take your time to do a few things. Every floor plan is tweak-able.
"It's hard for people to imagine how you can tweak something in a small way to make a huge difference, but one of my favourite things to create a whole new feeling in a house is by tweaking the floor plan."
Buying Blind premieres on tomorrow at 7.30pm on Channel 9.