While reality TV stars always seem to have picture-perfect homes, they didn’t always start out that way.

Just ask builder Richie Morris and designer Georgia Ezra, the stars of the new Magnolia Network show “Design Down Under.” The husband and wife, based in Melbourne, Australia, admit that their first home was a real fixer upper—which, incidentally, is how they fell in love with renovation and launched their career.

Excited to get to know the newest designers that Chip and Joanna Gaines have hand-picked for their network, we caught up with Ezra and Morris and heard stories about their first-time homebuying experience and future renovation plans for their current abode. They also share some smart advice for navigating today’s most popular design trends and making choices you’ll be happy with for years to come.

Georgia Ezra and Richie Morris survey a renovation job site on
Georgia Ezra and Richie Morris survey a renovation job site on “Design Down Under.”

(Magnolia Network)

Take us back to when you bought your first house. Anything unusual about that experience?

Georgia Ezra: Our first home together was a semi in Australia, a semidetached. It’s basically one big house with a wall in between, and we owned one-half of it. It was this really old home built in 1928, which in Australia is very old.

Richie Morris: It was a solid brick cottage, and as my wife says, the worst house in the best street. It just needed someone like us to give it love.

What did you learn from that project?

Ezra: We basically gutted the whole thing. It was an amazing experience because it was the very first time that we had owned a home, it was the very first time that we had ever renovated, and we’d just gotten married, so it was a really eye-opening experience to go into something together, spend money together, have major stress together.

For me, the biggest learning curve that I had was being in the shoes of a client and understanding the real pressures that come with spending money. It’s so easy to choose for someone else, but when you’re choosing for yourself, it’s overwhelming because you have that one choice and you have to live with it. Every decision matters so much.

Morris: Every wall I took down, there was something. I’d find asbestos, or I’d look under the floors and something was [rotten]. When you’re building for someone else, you can leave the emotion; but when you’re building for yourselves, you’re spending your own money. There’s a lot of emotion involved.

Husband and wife team Georgia Ezra and Richie Morris believe hiring an interior designer is money well spent.
Ezra and Morris believe hiring an interior designer is money well spent.

(Magnolia Network)

What are some classic mistakes you see homeowners make when renovating their house?

Ezra: One of the biggest mistakes I see [is] when clients go, “I want to do this extension and I’ve got quotes from builders, so we’re going to do it.”

I’m like, “Have you chosen a wall finish? Have you chosen a floor finish? Have you chosen a tile?” And they’re like, “No.”

How does the builder know what those costs are going to be?

Morris: People go into a renovation and just think, “This is the new paint color. We’re going to put in lights here. We’re going to be doing new furniture there.” But there’s all these other things you’ve got to think about before you get stuck into that: Are the floors level? What’s going on under the floors? How are the ceilings looking? Have we got any cracking around the ceilings?

You’ve got to think about all that other work that could pop out before you jump into making everything look pretty.

What’s your No. 1 piece of advice for homeowners hoping to renovate?

Ezra: The importance of an interior designer is very valid to a client because they will save you time, they will save you stress, [and] they will actually end up saving you money down the track.

When a designer has a budget, they can work very cleverly to design around that budget. They can spend in some areas and pull back in others, and that will allow you to have your budget spread evenly over the house in a very clever way by someone who has that skill set.

Having an interior designer on your team, putting things together like schedules [and] choices, when you hand that over to the builder, they can quote properly. If they’re quoting properly on actual selected items, there isn’t going to be any variation [on] fees.

The “Design Down Under” stars specialize in modern, bespoke renovations.

(Magnolia Network)

Ezra: I like to create timeless interiors that reflect the homeowner and [will be] something they will love for the next 20, 30 years of their lives.

What I’m seeing a lot more of, which is so refreshing, is that exclusive and bespoke response to interiors. A lot of purchasing antiques online—unique items that no one else in the world has.

I recently completed two jobs, and we furnished both of them buying off secondhand stores online. Then we reupholstered, customized, or sanded down. I’m seeing the shift into more bespoke homes that are one of a kind, and also this celebration of the handmade.

I will say that a handmade product will transform a home, not the way that it looks, but the way that it feels. The energy of the men and women that make that product—that energy exudes into the space.

Ezra: What I’m seeing commonly—which I urge against—is this influx of people just putting archways in their home because they are the latest trend. I think archways serve a purpose in certain homes, but they can’t just be stuck in a home like a Band-Aid because it doesn’t suit.

I’m always thinking, what is the story of the home? If the home is a Spanish-style Mission or hacienda, of course, arches are going to look stunning. But speak to the bones of the home, otherwise, you will not like it in years to come.

Richie Morris and Georgia Ezra curate tile choices on
Morris and Ezra curate tile choices on “Design Down Under.”

(Magnolia Network)

Georgia, as the founder of your tile company, Tiles of Ezra, what pro advice do you have for narrowing down design choices?

Ezra: When it comes to tiles, I really think it’s your personal instinct. I’m all about celebrating large and doing something that’s unique to you as a person.

It’s all about asking yourself how do you want to feel when you’re in the room? Not how do you want it to look; how do you want it to feel? Do you want it to feel deep, moody, and mature? Do you want it to feel fresh, light, and airy? That should lead your direction into your choices.

Every single thing in a room tells a story; the tiles are just one part of it.

Georgia Ezra and Richie Morris stand beside a feature wall inside a completed renovation on
Ezra and Morris stand beside a feature wall inside a completed renovation on “Design Down Under.”

(Magnolia Network)

What’s your favorite spot in your own house?

Morris: My favorite room of the house is our TV, dining, and kitchen. It’s all in one area. It’s got mosaic tiles throughout. It’s got beautiful Moroccan rugs. It’s got aesthetic joists on the ceiling. It’s got the fireplace.

When it starts to get dark, I turn off all the downlights and I put on our wall lights, and the whole room just has this beautiful hum. It’s a warm hum because the light bounces off the walls, goes onto the beautiful tiles, and it’s this sort of light pink haze in this room.

Georgia Ezra and Richie Morris renovate homes in Melbourne, Australia on
Ezra and Morris renovate homes in Melbourne, Australia, on “Design Down Under.”

(Magnolia Network)

As parents of two children, what’s your best advice for designing with kids in mind?

Ezra: The house has to be a place for everything, including the kids. They need to be celebrated in the design. It can’t just be a house where they can’t touch anything. I love incorporating the child’s needs into the home design. It can exist: a beautiful home and a space for a child, too.

Be really creative with storage systems. Find beautiful handmade baskets with lids that you can throw all their teddies in. Make beautiful areas for their books.

The other day, [my daughter] Halle and I pressed flowers and we put them in gorgeous frames. We’re going to paint the frames the same color as her wall color. Everything can be made for them and for you—together.

“Design Down Under” airs on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on Magnolia Network and streams the same day on Max and discovery+.