Behind the build with Caitlyn May.

We chat with Caitlyn May, primary school teacher, who was recently brave enough to build a new house.

Words by
Caitlyn May
Photography Kit Haselden
Plantation Shutters

We chat with Caitlyn May, a primary school teacher, who recently built a new house. Caitlyn gives great insight into the process and may just give you a tip or two.


Tell us a little bit about yourself and where you live.

My name is Caitlyn and I’m a primary school teacher in the north-eastern suburbs of Melbourne. My husband Steve and I recently built our dream home in Research, where we live with our eight-year-old Golden Retriever Tilly.


What type of home did you build – describe the style/design?

We built a split-level, four bedroom, modern but classic weatherboard house. If I had to describe my interior style it would been clean and minimalist with a neutral colour palette. 

What made you want to build a home, rather than buy an established home? 

I’ve always had a passion for interior design, styling and all things #housegoals. My Instagram and Facebook feeds are full of suggested posts relating to building, styling and decorating. I thought, instead of searching for the perfect home, why not create it. 


Tell us about the planning process, about choosing your builder, and how you went about it? 

We were strong on choosing a custom, smaller builder rather than a large and mass production company. We wanted to oversee and make our own decisions, basically be involved in the process as much as we could. Steve is also an Electrician, so we wanted to be able to utilise that. 

What did you look for when finding land – location, size etc?

We were very lucky when it came to finding land. Land is scarce in Research, unless you want to knock down and re-build. Steve’s parents were sitting on a decent sized corner block and decided that it was time for them to sub-divide so we purchased the block from them, (yes, yes, for market value, we didn’t get it for free).


Did you look through any display homes for inspiration?

No we didn’t.

Plantation Shutters

Wave Fold Sheer Curtains

Wave Fold Sheer Curtains


Going into the build, where were you able to save money and which areas of the home did you want to splurge on? 

Steve is an electrician, so he completed all the electrical works on the house which ended up saving us a lot of money. One of our biggest splurges was our gas strut window that opens out onto our alfresco area and we have zero regrets. 


What were the ‘must-haves’ in your new home?

Caesarstone benchtops, a gas strut window and hard-wood floors.


Have you added anything to your home post-build?

Our gorgeous Curtains and Shutters.

What lesson(s) did you learn when building your home?

No matter how many people told me, I never believed that deadlines and budgets don’t always go to plan. Believe those people!


When did you contact us during the building process and what benefits did 

dollar curtains + blinds provide?

I contacted dollar curtains + blinds roughly 2-3months prior to the completion and handover of our build.


Was it beneficial to visit a dollar curtains + blinds store?

We actually never went to a store! We dealt with Liz online due to COVID restrictions and she made the whole process stress free and a breeze. She mailed samples, gave her expert advice and decisions were made quite easily.

How did you find the design + measure + install service?

I couldn’t fault it! I didn’t have to do a thing. I opened my door to the dollar curtains + blinds installer and closed it a few hours later with gorgeous Curtains, Blinds and Shutters installed.


Did you originally know what you were after in terms of window coverings or were you seeking our advice?

I’d say a little bit of both. I’ve always been drawn to the warm vibe and look the Sheer Curtains provide so that was a must. There were a few decisions such as Roller Blind vs Blockout Curtains and partial wall Curtains vs. wall to wall Curtains, that’s where Liz really helped with my indecisiveness. 

What’s your favourite room and why?

My kitchen. I love it all – Caesarstone benchtops, gas strut window, panelled cabinetry, gold fixtures/tapware and our cream SMEG freestanding oven.


What are the 3 most important things that make your home feel like a home?

First and foremost, my husband and our fur baby- they are my home. Secondly the warmth our Curtains provide our spaces, they have really finished the home off perfectly. Thirdly, our furniture and décor pieces that we have chosen together.


What is your most cherished possession?

My stick vacuum cleaner – I’m a little obsessed with cleaning.

What’s on your interiors wish list right now?

A coffee table and rug for downstairs.


When it comes to designing a home, what does your design process look like?

I drew around 20 different designs on scrap bits of paper with a ruler and a grey led. I took them to a draftsman and he made them come to life.


What are your top 3 design/style tips for building a house?

  1. Choose one vibe and stick to it – it’s so easy to get caught up in many different on trend styles.
  2. Storage, storage, storage. Try and squeeze in as much as you can.
  3. Personally, I liked to visualise myself walking through the house and see if it worked in my brain. I wanted to feel an open but connectiveness flow to all of the spaces. 

You’re given a limited renovation budget; how would you spend it wisely to transform a home?

Kitchen – they sell homes. And a fresh coat of paint to all spaces.


What qualities do you look for when choosing materials, furniture and accessories in your designs?

Durable and high quality. Spend and invest now rather than having to update sooner.


Are you a Curtains, Blinds or Shutters person?

I’m all three and so is my home!


What products did you choose from dollar curtain + blinds?

Shutters in all front rooms of the home so that the front of our house displayed fresh white Shutters across the façade. Sheer Curtains in our open living/kitchen area. Sheer Curtains and Blockout Curtains downstairs in our rumpus/movie room. A mixture of both Sheer Curtains with either Roller Blind or Blockout Curtains in remaining rooms.

How did our products transform your home? 

They provided a sense of warmth to all of the spaces and finished off the home perfectly.


Some people find it difficult to decide what to do with their windows. Any tips?

I’d say look for inspo, a.k.a start scrolling away on Instagram. Create a folder of screenshots you are drawn to and then go and check out some samples!


How do you find inspiration?

Instagram all the way.


“I opened my door to the dollar curtains + blinds installer and closed it a few hours later with gorgeous Curtains, Blinds and Shutters installed.”

— Caitlyn

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