They might have won a TV renovation show and a six-figure prize but “at the end of the day we still have a farm to run,”, the 2018 House Rules winners said.
Toad Heffernan and Mandy Stone scored 24/30 from the judges for their final makeover, just one point ahead of Queenslanders Mel and Dave.
“It definitely feels really weird to be the winners!” Mandy said. “At this stage we are focusing on how we feel about being the House Rules winners for 2018.
“People keep asking what we are going to do with the $355,000. But I haven’t even thought about the money.”
She and Toad, from Candelo in the south-east of NSW, spoke to Fairfax Media on Tuesday, the day after the news had been announced to the world. Toad said they had appeared on television’s Sunrise program early that morning and “the phone had not stopped ringing”.
“But we just won House Rules, what do you expect?” he laughed.
Mandy said the first thought that ran through her head after being told they had won Channel Seven’s show was “definitely shock”.
“Toad was a bit more confident than I was,” she said. “We were shocked we even made it into the finals. We’re just ordinary people.”
While the final episode was filmed before Monday night they were not able to tell anyone the good news due to the contract they signed for the show, but wanted to keep the surprise for their fans and supporters anyway.
“We didn’t want to spill the beans to anybody, we wanted everyone to be as surprised as we were when it was announced,” Toad said.
It could be an intense environment, competing on House Rules. The duo would build in seven days while studying each night in order to come up with the best design.
One of the most important lessons they learnt from their time on the show was how to work together, as it was much better than fighting.
“Time is of the essence,” Toad said. “If you’re fighting a lot, a bad design will come out of that.”
They may have had a “few disagreements”, but he said it was about staying true to yourself.
“You’ve got to work together to get the result, and I think Mandy and I worked very well together,” he said.
While they enjoyed the experience of renovating on the show, it was difficult for them to leave their family and home behind.
“To take that plunge and leave your family, your job and your life behind is huge,” Toad said.
“It does beat you up, but it does keep you going because you want the best result for your family and home.”
Now that the competition has finished, Mandy has plans on opening a beauty salon in “a little town in the Bega Valley” as she saw a need for it.
“I really do love my job and the industry I’m in,” she said. “I think I’d like to get myself set up for the future, for when the kids have gone to school.”
Toad was looking forward to being on his farm, but after his taste of television he now has a desire to get back on the silver screen.
“I wouldn’t mind doing more telly, something where you can have a bit of fun and a laugh!” he said.
“But at the end of the day we still have a farm to run.
“I don’t think very much is going to change for us. But opportunities will come up.”
But the big news for them is plans for a wedding, which has been on the table since Toad proposed two years ago.
“We do have some minor plans, but we need to book places and we haven’t got a date yet,” Mandy said.
“We will keep the wedding in the local area. We don’t need to go anywhere else, because it is a beautiful area.”
As she grew up in Boyd Town and Toad was raised in Candelo, they are thinking about holding parts of the wedding celebration in both Eden and Candelo.
They wanted to thank their supporters from the Bega Valley, the people who helped keep their farm running while they were away competing, and their family.
“They loved it, especially Toad’s dad!” Mandy said. “The support we got from around here is unreal,” Toad added.
They said many locals were involved in the works to their Candelo house, including caterers, builders and tradies, with supplies such as timber, iron and cladding also all sourced locally as well.
The House Rules crew had stayed in Merimbula during filming, and got to see the sights of the town on their day off.