Build Diary – Chelsea and Todd (Part 2)

Chelsea and Todd have been building in Bali while they are living in Bangkok. After their round-the-world trip was derailed by Covid 19, they found themselves in Bali and fell in love with the island, the people and the culture.

When we first met them, they had started their build but were managing the construction from Thailand. Unable to return to Bali for the moment, they built their home, named Villa Rae, while overseas! In this follow-up, we find out about their experiences building in Bali.

BaliI Interiors Build Diary

When did you finish your build? How long did it take?

We finished in the beginning of September. We began designing Villa Rae in April 2020 and broke ground in July 2020, so we completed everything in just over a year! It was a bit longer than we expected but considering we managed most of the process while living in Bangkok we’d say we did ok!

Bali Interiors Build Diary
Bali Interiors Build Diary

What were your priorities/goals when you started designing/building? Do you think you achieved them?

Villa Rae was built with 2 purposes in mind, a vacation home for us a few months out of the year and a rental property the rest of the time. So we had to think of it from both perspectives! Thankfully we both love traveling and have found through the years what we like and don’t like when renting homes so we tried to keep those elements in mind.

We knew most importantly we wanted a very welcoming space that people would want to come back to over and over. So that is still yet to be determined but we’ve had really positive feedback from guests who have stayed with us.

 Did you make any significant changes to the design as you were building? Why?

As the build was coming to an end, we realized the air flow in the living area wasn’t the best so we ended up changing 2 of the windows in the kitchen to be able to open to create a cross breeze. Thankfully it wasn’t too heavy of a lift for our team but it made a huge difference.

We also added an outdoor bathtub off the guest bath. It was something we wanted to do down the line but decided to just do it now while we had the time.

Bali Interiors Build Diary
Bali Interiors Build Diary
Bali Interiors Build Diary

What were the challenges of building in Bali while living in another country?

The biggest pain point was simply not being there in person. Ideally we would have been checking on the progress daily but obviously that wasn’t possible from Bangkok. So we had to put a lot of trust in our builders and some friends on the ground to be our eyes. And as I’m sure you can imagine, communication over WhatsApp isn’t the same as a quick in-person conversation!

Were there any build problems along the way? How did you resolve them?

We were very fortunate to not have any major issues along the way. There were small frustrations that would pop up here and there, but that’s to be expected. Because of Covid, we did have some staffing issues/shortages along the way that caused slight delays. If a worker was exposed to Covid they would have to quarantine before coming back and since there were already restrictions in place for the number of people we could have on site, there wasn’t much we could do but play the waiting game.

 How did you organise the interiors/furniture/homewares/soft furnishings while you are based overseas?

We always envisioned being back in Bali when it was time to do the fun stuff (shopping!) but with border restrictions in both Indonesia and Thailand it wasn’t feasible. We were able to take on the designing of furniture, wardrobes and cabinets remotely with a trusted vendor, but when it came time for the soft furnishings and those important little interior details we knew we needed help.

Enter Wendy, The Interior Tailor, who was our magician of sourcing and styling who really helped bring our vision to life. We exchanged a few hundred messages and photos through the process and it was a great experience. Not sure how we would have done it otherwise!


Bali Interiors Build Diary
Bali Interiors Build Diary

Knowing what you now know, would you do anything differently?

We’d never leave Bali 🙂 but honestly, overall we were happy with the outcome so it made everything worth it. Obviously there were bumps along the way and we made mistakes, but we’ll use those lessons to keep learning, because we do want to do this all over again someday!

What advice would you give to other people who are planning on building in Bali?

Be very proactive in your research and don’t feel like you have to rush into anything. Ask question after question to really understand the process and be prepared to not get everything right!

Choose your team wisely and remember that the cheapest or most expensive option isn’t always the best. Compare quotes to make sure you know what you’re getting and again, ask a ton of questions. And finally, If you aren’t willing to be flexible through the process this probably isn’t right for you.


You can follow Chelsea and Todd’s build at Villa Rae

All photos by Indra Wiras


If you are building in Bali (or have just finished) and would like to be featured in our Build Diary, please contact us at

Bali Interiors Build Diary

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