It's a winter's morning in Gundaroo and sun is streaming into the living area of Katie and Alex Middlemiss' home, a stunningly renovated cottage that the whole country has had a peep inside, thanks to it being overhauled on the popular TV show House Rules.
It's a surreal experience to step inside a home hundreds of thousands of TV viewers have pored over - me included. Oh, there's the gorgeous vaulted ceiling created by brothers Tim and Mat. The kitchen created by couple Lisa and Andy is jaw-droppingly beautiful. I want it.
Katie wasn't keen on the tiles surfing sisters Mikaela and Eliza put in the dining room, but, you know, I don't mind them. So how's the pop-up TV going?
And do you still have the rainforest of plastic plants Pete and Courtney put in the bathroom?
"Yes, we do," Katie says, with a laugh.
"We've had a few people ask that."
If Alex and Katie grate at the notion their house has become public property, you'd never know it. The eternally sunny couple know how lucky they are and take nothing for granted.
"We watched our reveal video and we were just stunned mullets because we couldn't comprehend this was ours," Alex says.
The 1880s crumbling wreck of a cottage was not only resurrected but doubled in size with the addition of a new living, kitchen, dining area. The value of their home increased from $430,000 to $760,000 after the week-long transformation, the biggest jump in value of any of the homes from this season.
"They couldn't play most of the words I used when they opened the envelope," Alex, 32, says. "It was crazy."
And Katie, a midwife, and Alex, an officer with the Australian Federal Police, are happy to share their good fortune.
"The first time we had a couple of people over, the street started to realise we were home. And then someone else ducked in. And then all of a sudden there were three bottles of champagne open and wine glasses everywhere. It was lovely," Katie laughs.
"The kids were running around everywhere. It was surreal," Alex says.
"As sad as we were to be home, it just made us realise how lucky we are."
House Rules sees pairs of contestants renovate and furnish each other's homes, with the winner also receiving $250,000.
Favourites to win the entire competition, Alex and Katie were instead eliminated last Sunday, before their exterior and yard could also be done up in the next stage of the show.
Alex, in particular, took their elimination very hard. He's obviously been hard at work in the yard, cutting through a forest of hedge in the front yard and putting up a new fence.
We felt like it was home straight away.Alex Middlemiss
"It was a real shock for us to be home this early. We definitely weren't expecting it," Katie says.
"We knew we'd made a few mistakes that week but definitely not enough to send us home."
"It was hard to be overly sad because we knew the journey we'd been on. We always said we'd won the lottery and it was like, 'Wow'. It was such a mixed emotion," Alex says.
Alex felt like he had let his family down.
"It's hard not to see something through," he says.
"I certainly felt like I'd let Katie and Hallie down. I felt like this was our one shot. I can genuinely say, I took it pretty hard. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I really felt like I'd let the girls down."
"We both struggled with it," Katie says.
The family has been back enjoying the house for only a matter of weeks.
"We felt like it was home straight away," Alex says. "We walked into it and we just filled it with people."
"The best part about living here, is having our friends and family here," Katie says.
"It's the first time we've been able to treat it like a home," Alex says.
"And have people over while Hallie is asleep at the same time," Katie laughs.
"We've actually had family down to stay with us, which is a first," Alex says.
"Never had a guest bedroom before!" Katie says.
"So that's been the best bit."
And coming home to Hallie, who was cared for by Katie's mum while they were away, was always a good thing.
"We got to see her first steps. We haven't missed a milestone, we've been really lucky with that," Katie says.
Katie, newly qualified as a midwife, also ran the food delivery business Fudie. She can't get over the kitchen she has now.
"I'm still getting used to how much room there is, but it is so amazing," she says." I tell everyone it's like a million times better than we expected. We thought we would get a small renovation, because there weren't enough rooms for all the teams, but we never expected anything like this.
She's even looking at making interior design her career, currently renovating a friend's home in Curtin.
"I'm really interested and looking at a few avenues at the moment. I think I'd like to go down that path," she says.
Back home, the couple are focused on getting healthy again. Alex lost seven kilos doing the other house renovations. Katie has been sick a lot. One of the first things they did when the other teams were renovating their home was trek up Mount Ainslie with Hallie.
They're also missing their best mates from the show, Melbourne brothers Mat and Tim and Victorian dance teachers Pete and Courtney, the latter made to look like the bad guys in some of the episodes.
"Pete and Courtney got a really bad rap," Katie says.
"They didn't deserve it. They're a really beautiful couple, really lovely. And I think what people forget is that they see 10 seconds of an entire day. And we probably all had similar moments, it's just that theirs was more public."
"To be honest, that's been hard to watch, some of that stuff, with Pete and Courtney," Alex says.
"And we've all rallied around them," Katie says.
"They're a beautiful family," Alex says. "Sometimes we've watched the show with trepidation because you have no idea how you're going to be perceived. We always just stuck to who we were.
"And I think that's probably what brought Pete and Courts unstuck too, because they are flamboyant and out there and passionate."
"But we've had a lot of support," Katie says. "We feel really bad for all those people who've sent us lots of messages - 'We hope you win'. We're like, 'We're so sorry'.'
They are already planning an overseas holiday with all the other House Rules contestants.
"We've got a big group chat going," Alex says.
"Go to Bali, so we're warm. Have the kids run around everywhere," Katie says. "The girls can teach us how to surf."
There was some media speculation this season that the teams go over their allotted seven days to do each renovation. Alex and Katie say that's not the case.
"You can't tell enough people that's how it is," Katie says.
"And we know how unbelievable it is because we didn't believe it until we went on the show. I totally understand that it's really hard to fathom, especially for people in the industry and have never seen something come together so quickly.
"There are things like council approval that do need to happen before. But the actual physical labour, the trades, everything happens in seven days. People choose to believe you or not."
Alex agrees. "And what you don't see is that the trades are crawling all over it."
"And a lot of people think you've got seven days. But you've got two days to lock in your vision. If you don't start heading down a path, you're done".
Katie says the kitchen cabinet maker would come in to get the team's order the same day they got the house rules for the renovation.
"In Adelaide, we had 20 minutes to design a kitchen," Alex says.
"We were just hoping for the rest of the week all the decisions we'd made, all the colours of the tiles, the layout was working. It's a bit daunting," Katie says.
"Our biggest drama going on the show was that Katie doesn't make decisions under pressure," Alex says.
"But for some reason, with the pressure, Katie was a boss. I was just being told what to do all the time."
"There was no other choice," she says.
Alex is back at work with the AFP in Canberra - and getting stick from his colleagues.
"They don't let me forget. There's daily reminders," he says, with a laugh.
"They're all die-hard House Rules fans now," Katie says.
The couple say they didn't have much to do with the judges, but British style expert Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen made an impact.
"Something I remember Laurence saying to me at the end was, 'Don't let this be the end of what you're doing because you do have an eye for it'," Katie says.
"That was pretty amazing. He's a world-renowned interior professional so for someone to say that to you, is amazing."
And little Hallie is loving the new house too.
"Hallie just loves all the space, now she's walking," Katie says.
"We've got a little racetrack. We just race around the kitchen," Alex says.
"And we don't have to worry too much about her getting into anything. It's quite a safe house to be in. She can go up to her room while I'm doing the dishes and I'm not worried about her."
They have no intention of selling the home, in the tight-knit community just north of Canberra.
"We're here for the long haul," Alex says.