Getting your home ready for the holiday season

Published November 2, 2017

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With the Holiday season fast approaching, many of us are left with a very long “to-do list ” of household chores and maintenance issues to button up before family members and guests start arriving for the traditional gatherings.

Coming out of the winter months straight into the busy holiday season is an inconvenience to say the least.  We all want our home’s to be looking and functioning the absolute best they can around this time of year. Finding the time to make this all happen is the tricky part. Our current working situations and lifestyles leave little room for extra curricular activities, projects and tasks around the home. Finding the time to complete all works needed can be one of the biggest chores of all.

Make a list and check it twice 

Then there are the projects that are just out of your realm of capabilities, things that are going to need the experience and expertise of a qualified professional. Your best bet will be to start by prioritising everything that needs to be done and then breaking the tasks down into a few seperate lists.

One list should contain all of the things you and your household members can easily accomplish yourself, things like a big push of spring cleaning, inside and out. Getting deep in there tackling all of the things that seem to go a mis and get the pass during the regular tidy ups and cleaning sessions. Giving your lawn and gardening tools and equipment a good once over if they have been sitting for the past months. You will know best what is inside your scope of capabilities our advice is to be realistic and don’t try and take on too much as it will only cause unnecessary stress and angst. The last thing you want is to make a space unusable because you were feeling proactive and decided you were going to tackle that little bathroom renovation yourself, or install that new sink and tap in the kitchen with out any real knowledge of how to do this or even the tools needed to get the job done.

** DIY tip : Create a brief safety checklist that ensures you have everything you need to keep yourself, your home and your guests safe. You’ll want to make sure you check and, if necessary, change your smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector batteries, for instance. You should also have a fire extinguisher near the stove so you can quickly get a handle on any kitchen fires that break out while cooking. If you have family member that have young children, make sure your home is kid friendly and safe for the little ones. Install gates at tops and bottoms of stairs and make sure there is nothing in reach of kids that will potentially cause them harm. When the adults are visiting and getting in to the holiday cheer its nice to know there are no avoidable incidents looming around your home.

Another list should contain a few of the things you may need a contractor or professional tradesmen’s skills to accomplish. Again the key is to be realistic! You might not have enough time to get the home extension you have been thinking of fully completed before guests start arriving, but you may possibly still have time to get a few other projects done and dusted that will have a positive impact on your guests stay. Being around a month and a half out of the start of holidays lets use that timeline to go over a few things you will be able to get finished in that time.

Bathroom and ensuite Renovations

This may be pushing the envelope a little bit with the 2 month timeline. If you are gong to undertake a bathroom or ensuite reno you should have a lot of your design and layout done as well as lighting, flooring, fittings, fixtures and material selections sorted already as there can be a lot of decisions that take consideration. You want to create a space that is timeless and you are going to love for years to come. If your at this stage and your bathroom is a reasonable size your contractor should be able to have the works completed. Your guests will really appreciate and be impressed by a clean and beautifully renovated bathroom space. Talk to the experts and project managers at M.J. Harris Group to discuss your bathroom renovation project.

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Guests will appreciate a fresh clean bathroom space.

Upgrade your lighting

Upgrading and adding lights to your home can have a big impact in turning dim and dark spaces into a light and bright welcoming home. With so many fixture options and lighting design it also gives the ability to really change the look and feel of a space. Give it a modern touch with all new fixtures, switches and conveniently placed outlets. Add some wow with a eye catching and stylish feature lights such as a chandler, pendants or a handmade, custom one of a kind custom piece. See M.J. Harris Design for more information and services regarding lighting design for your home.

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Be bold & creative with lighting fixtures

Outdoor Area’s

Consider focusing some efforts on your outdoor space. In most cases a majority of you and your guests time will be spent outside enjoying the sunshine and fresh air. There is really nothing better then having a few beverages with family and friends in a beautifully manicured outdoor space with lush plants or relaxing on a new, or improved decking area.

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Create a beautiful outdoor space with the MJ Harris Group

Interior, Exterior Painting

Painting for the holidays, inside and out, is one of the best ways to see major results in terms of the look and feel of your home.  Many people make the assumption that painting is simple and they can do it themselves. It is easy to underestimate the time and effort that actually goes into painting your space but you can trust us that this is no easy task, especially to have it done properly. Our painting team at M.J Harris Painting are ready to help you tackle any painting related job.

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Paint your guest bedrooms for family & friends


** DIY tip : When having works done at your home it is essential to do everything you can to help out the contractors you have hired. You may think well I am paying them so they can move my furniture, clean out vanities etc, but it will be in your favour to have everything clean cleared and as ready for works to begin as possible. Its going to save you time and money and your contractor will really appreciate it.

Should you renovate your bathroom?

Published October 11, 2017

Of course you should! The bathroom is a place where you start and end your day, a place where you relax, and a place that needs to be functional to your needs and aesthetically pleasing. Bathrooms are one of the most used, most important rooms in your home. On average we spend roughy 20 minutes per day in this room, that is equivalent of up to 4 hours a week! So it only makes sense to create a space that is comfortable and functional.

With so many styling options available the process of designing your perfect space can be a bit overwhelming at times. Putting together all of the pieces that make up a great bathroom takes time, experience and patience. You may have an exact idea of how you would like your bathroom to look and feel, or you may have no idea except that you know your space needs to change.

Consider consulting a designer


Bathrooms are usually one of the smaller rooms of your home and seem so straight forward right ? WRONG. When designing your new bathroom there are many things to carefully consider when designing and arranging the layout of your new space.

Over crowding in a bathroom remodel is a common error, make a list of needs and wants and think hard about your layout. A good designer can help you find the perfect placements of your shower, bath, toilet and sink and, choose the right sizes as well as styles to fit your space.

A designer not only has the ability to help you map out your project, but to educate you as well. They can also inform you about the newest products and trends that could save you money and make your life much more comfortable.

For many homeowners the most challenging part of a bathroom renovation is identifying a style and selecting the appropriate components. Use the experience and expertise of a design team to come up with ideas and find ways to compliment your home and lifestyle.

Designer tip : Heated towel rails are a new necessity to hold a lot of towels and make sure they are always warm, soft and fluffy.

Underestimating storage requirements

The benefits of custom joinery in the bathroom are numerous. Your bathroom is filled with necessities – towels, toiletries, hairdryers and the list goes on. The challenge with all of these items is they create clutter and look messy. The last thing you want is a guest staring at a wet towel and your toilet paper stock from Woolworths. So, what to do? Take a moment to think about how much stuff you have and need in your bathroom and create smart storage! Plan an appropriate place for everything with drawers and doors. Custom joinery allows you to make the most of every space and to maximise storage in the neatest and most visually appealing way

Designer tip: Get a modern and clean look by building recessed areas in showers and over sinks and basins. This will create functional storage, with minimal cost and high style.

Lighting is essential

Another piece of the bathroom renovation puzzle that is often over looked is the lighting. There are four types of lighting you need to think about in bathroom spaces: task lighting (for makeup application, shaving etc), ambient lighting (for setting the mood – relax or energise), natural lighting (like a window or that long awaited skylight!) and accent lighting (to enhance the focal points you have worked so hard to create) A lighting plan allows for all times of day. Poor lighting can really make or break a room.

Your Bathroom adds Value to Your Home

Investing in a bathroom renovation is often a win-win situation since they can give you some of the best returns if and when you sell your home.

Bathrooms can easily turn people off of purchasing a home if they are in the wrong part of the home or if will be a costly fix.

Think about how satisfying it would be to design and renovate your bathroom and then when you’re ready to sell, have the comfort of knowing that you’ve increased the value of your own home at the same time!

” 3 Things I wish my client knew ” – Houzz

Published October 4, 2017

Thinking Of Renovating?

Published September 28, 2017

Renovating your home is an exciting time, but it can also be a daunting and stressful endeavour. There are many aspects to consider when looking for  a renovation company to take on your project.  Having a very positive track record regarding all types of home renovations, big and small we have a few tips to consider when you take those first steps in sourcing a company that will be able to tackle the works at your home. 

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Do your research.

Ask about the companies experience with projects similar to yours. It’s recommend that you do some research into the history and track record of the renovator you are considering. There are many online platforms in which you can search for unbiased and un-solicited reviews of contractors completed jobs. Google business, True local, even a companies Facebook page, and social accounts are a good place to source reviews, job references and see how the company responds and interacts with its customers.

Ensure the company has the proper credentials, systems and insurances in place. Look for industry symbols like the HIA logo which Promotes industry standards through a National Code of Ethics.

Make sure your contractor is a Registered Building Practitioners :  Tradesmen who are qualified to undertake certain work, eg, electrical, carpentry, bricklayer etc. Being registered under the Victorian Building Authority will give you, the homeowner, a fall back position in the event of a dispute into workmanship.


Establish a good working relationship with your renovator

This is key, there can be as mentioned, moments of stress and unforeseen events and issues that may arise through-out the renovation process, but it is imperative to keep calm and approach all circumstances with a positive manner. Renovators and homeowners agree that a good working relationship is essential in successful renovation projects. Keep lines of communication open at all times. Expect a brief report on the progress of your job at regular intervals and be available to make decisions when they are needed so work is not held up. 

Get a Written Contract

When you make your decision to hire a professional renovator, get it in writing. Include the entire scope of work; the exact price, including a schedule of payments; a reasonable timetable for completing the work; and any instructions for protecting parts of the house not under construction.

If you are getting more than one company to submit quotes for your project project, remember that this can be a time-consuming effort. The renovator has to be very precise in pricing materials according to the specifications.

Once you are satisfied with the submitted design, budget and a realistic timetable, you are ready to commit to final drawings. When these are complete you are in a position to get an accurate estimate of the cost.

Avoid renovators who offer to do work without a contract to avoid paying taxes. This type of contractor may also not be carrying the proper insurance, leaving you at financial risk.

So remember to keep in mind that Research, good planning, a professional work crew, and open communication go along way when you are planning and undergoing renovations at your home.

10 Things to do before construction begins

Published September 14, 2017

Mill Park Renovation

Published September 1, 2017

We recently renovated the main bathroom, ensuite, laundry and two powder rooms at this family home in Mill Park. A Hamptons style was carried throughout the rooms to create timeless, elegant spaces for this growing family. By adding Custom joinery we were able to maximise the functionality & storage. Joinery handles are Furnware Dorset in brushed nickel. The bathroom and ensuite feature Organic White Ceaserstone bench tops, contrasting Beaumont Tiles, with white subway tiles from National Tiles. The main bath focal point is the freestanding tub with floor mounted bath spout from infinite tap-ware. 

We love renovating bathroom spaces and this project turned out absolutely gorgeous with some very happy clients.

Project design and management by M.J. Harris Design
Renovations completed by M.J.Harris Carpentry M.J. Harris PaintingM.J. Harris Electrical M.J. Harris Tiling

Suppliers Include : Benchtops – Caesarstone in Organic white

Joinery finish & colour – Polytec thermo laminated range with profiled doors & draws profile in ‘Oberon’, bathroom joinery colour: Strata Grey Matt & ensuite joinery colour: Stone grey Matt. Downstairs powder room & laundry joinery colour: Classic White Matt. Laundry laminate benchtop: Chambord Matt

Handles – Brand: Furnware Dorset. Range: Florencia. Finish:  brushed nickel

Tapware –  Mondella from Bunnings – maestro range

Showerheads: Methven

Ensuite Pendants & upstairs toilet light – Beacon Lighting

Downlights – Saxon Lighting

Tiles: Beaumont tiles, white wall tiles are National Tiles

Shower screens: high grove bathrooms

Paint: Dulux


Tile Over Shower Bases

Published April 9, 2017

Why choose a tile over shower base?

Here are some reasons why we love the tile over shower base, which is now the most common style shower we install when renovating bathrooms.


  1. Looks Amazing! The sleek look of the tile over shower base makes any bathroom and shower feel open and inviting. Having the seamless entry into the shower area creates a feeling of freedom in what usually is a confined space.
  2. Easy to clean, using large tiles and stainless steel grates, cleaning the shower has never been easier. Although people believe grout can be painful over time, using the right products and sealers you won’t have an issue. Stainless steel grates are easy to clean and keep their pristine look over time.
  3. Safe when showering. Having your shower base built into floor level takes away a lip that can often be a tripping hazard.


With tile over shower bases there are a few styles to choose from;

Rear Waste: You can position your drain at the rear of your shower, having the water drain to the back of your shower base. You may prefer to have a long style grate or a small grate, both look great and deliver the same results. If you don’t like the look of stainless steel you can always choose a drain with a tile insert. Tile insert drains are exactly what they sound like, you simply insert a section of tile into the drain.

Centre Waste: A centre waste is simply when your drain is centre of your shower base. This can come in many forms such as stainless steel grate, standard grate or tile insert. Often the tilers will cut tiles surrounding the drain in diamond formation, leaving a nice centre piece position for the drain.


View options of shower bases from Reece or speak with our experienced bathroom designers.

Kitchen Servery Style

Published June 14, 2016

Are you looking for a solution to liven up your existing home entertainment area without having to completely renovate or redo your whole space? The ideal entertaining spaces are brought to life by bringing the outdoors side, helping you to relax, unwind and make the most of the Australian climate. We love to entertain in a beautiful outdoor setting however, having  access to our indoor kitchen can be an issue.

A great way to combine both functionality and aestheticly pleasing elements we require can be easily achieved by installing a kitchen servery bi-fold window. By installing a bi-fold window you are ticking off the essentials of bringing the outdoors in and creating the ease of passing food and beverages through the window without the hassle of working through and around other obstacles that may stand in your way.

We have a few tips on how to make the perfect servery:

 Space – Make sure that the window width is wide enough. If you would like to incorporate a bar into your servery window you will need to ensure you will have enough space for the number of stools you are planning to use. Keep in mind you should allow approximately 800mm of space per person.

Design – Think about the bench top that you have in your kitchen and try to incorporate a similar style to your bar top. For example, if you have an earthy palette in the interior of your home you could opt for a timber benchtop to add an extra textural element to the design. Another thing to consider is the type of window frame you desire – aluminium or timber.

Windows – Think about what type of window suits your space and what the main purpose of the servery will be. Bi-fold windows tend to be the most common because they open up fully for an unobstructed view.

Functionality – Be sure to choose finishes and materials that can withstand the weather if necessary. Many stone and solid surface manufacturers have tested their products for outdoor use due to the current trend of outdoor entertaining. If you are beachside then ensure that any stainless steel products are marine graded to ensure that they remain in perfect condition.

All of these points are an essential part for the planning process when considering whether or not a servery window is the ideal solution for your home.

Gallery images via M.J.Harris Group and Pinterest.

Hardwood Flooring: Solid vs. Engineered

Published May 16, 2016

The choice of flooring in your home is one of the major decisions in a renovation. Flooring is what completes the home and ties everything together it can connect or divide spaces and is the base layer when decorating your space. With all the different products out there the home owner is faced with overwhelming amounts of choices but when it comes to adding warmth and elegance to a room nothing beats the beauty of genuine hardwood flooring.

There are two types of hardwood floors; solid and engineered.

The difference – solid hardwood boards are milled from a single piece of lumber while engineered is constructed from multiple plies of wood with a solid wood top layer with cross layers of plywood to create a strong core. In terms of performance they each have hard as nails coatings that can withstand the inevitable beatings that daily living can throw at it. Engineered does have enhanced stability which allows for slightly more resistance to the daily wear and tear as well as buckling or rippling. Solid floors can be sanded and refinished up to 10 times throughout their lifetime depending on the board thickness whereas engineered can typically only be refinished 1-2 times over the life of the floor. So finally the key advantages of engineered flooring are;

  • No sanding or polishing required as they are prefinished boards
  • Most Engineered floors don’t come in lengths longer than 2.4lm and many are shorter, they are packed in easy to handle bundles and this makes them able to be fitted into a goods lift, where as a solid timber floor comes in longer lengths of up to 5.7lm and won’t fit into a lift without a lot of cutting first.
  • Installation is normally completed quickly because the surface does not need to be sanded or have coatings applied.
  • You can move onto the floor immediately, there is no smell to contend with and the finish is dust free.

Timber shelving – More than just a functional fixture

Published April 7, 2016

Exposed timber shelving is a stunning trend that we have been seeing in homes for a while now and it isn’t hard to see why. Beautiful natural resources mixed with hard kitchen and bathroom surfaces bring a sculptural element to functional shelving and turn a bare wall into the perfect open display storage space.

Timber provides warmth and texture to a minimalistic, monochrome space, creating a bold contrast and a focal point to draw the eye. With  so many different species of timber available there is a species to compliment every design movement and style. Simply opt for a plywood or light oak if you want to replicate a Scandinavian scheme and a rustic, recycled timber for an industrial feel.

Timber shelves don’t just have to be a straight flush shelve, why not get creative, from triangles, hexagons and cubes, these shelving concepts create the perfect cost effective alternative to artwork.

Here we feature the latest images of our home renovation in Fitzroy where we feature raw Oregon timber shelves in both a Laundry and bathroom, mixed with raw stone tiles and soft grey tones these timber shelves create the perfect balance of raw and smooth, natural and refined.

Images via Pinterest and M.J.Harris Group, photographer J.Harris