She’s spent the past 10 weeks making over a house on the hit DIY reality show Mitre 10 Dream Home, but last week, contestant Sarah Giles was the subject of a dramatic transformation herself.
As both the Orange and Black teams wait to find out who has won a mortgage-free house in the final this week, the Weekly decided the hard-working mum from Team Orange deserved her own complete makeover.
Getting time away from her six kids is a foreign concept to Sarah. As she arrived in Auckland, the 36-year-old Christchurch mum confessed she couldn’t remember when she last had a little “me time” to get a proper haircut, or buy herself a new outfit on the family’s single income. But her hot new look feels like a fresh start, she says.
“I think I focus on the kids so much, I forget about me. All the money we have, we put towards them,” says Sarah of her six children: Isaac (13), Xavier (10), Bailey (7), Rhys (6), Chevalyn (6) and Janaya (3).
Sarah couldn’t sleep the night before her big makeover. And, as she looked in the mirror from the hairdresser’s chair, the tears began to well up.
“This is all very new for me,” Sarah admits. “But even just stepping on the plane this morning was fun. It’s strange being the centre of attention.
“I feel so horrible saying this, but it’s so nice to get away from the family for just a day, and not think about all our worries with the house and the earthquake.”
Although she and her husband Martyn struggle financially, it didn’t stop them making the selfless decision to give back to those in need, by fostering four of their six children.
But while competing on the show has given the family the chance of a new life, the process has been a slog – and seeing herself on TV after weeks of little sleep, Sarah was shocked at how much the past few months has taken its toll.
“It was so exhausting. You think, at the time, ‘Oh, I should probably do my hair,’ but with the pressure of the show, you kind of roll with it. Now, sitting at home, watching it on TV, I say, ‘What was I thinking?’”
Before embarking on her television journey, Sarah had her fringe cut to “hide her wrinkles”, but hadn’t touched the length in years. Chopping seven inches off has done wonders.
A rounder, softer fringe and light layers have helped highlight Sarah’s best features – her eyes and cheekbones. Ryder hairstylist Lydia Mahon softened Sarah’s look further, by adding subtle foil highlights in a soft brown colour, slightly lighter than her natural shade. This adds texture and breaks up her solid colour.
“I love, love, love my hair. This is the first time I’ve ever had foils – I’ll be able to tell the kids I was a tinfoil head,” Sarah jokes.
Make-up has always been a slapdash effort for the busy mum, who sticks to foundation with a touch of lip gloss for her daily look, but Bobbi Brown make-up artist Sarahlee Russell taught Sarah the tricks for covering up dark under-eye circles using a warm natural concealer, finished by a dusting of pale yellow powder to brighten the face.
Sarah admits that she often sticks to wearing black to flatter her size 16-18 figure, and is self-conscious about the size of her arms, but stylist Claudia Renford says, “Sarah should wear pinks, blues and soft greens, as they really suit her.”
On the eve of the final, Sarah says, win or lose, she is now going to look after herself more for the sake of her family.
“I need to think more about being healthy and doing more exercise, so I’m around to see my grandkids. Losing weight is my goal when the show is over. Winning would be life-changing, but we’ve been preparing the kids in case we don’t, saying we will be okay either way.”
Photos: Emma Watson • Make-up: Bobbi brown, britomart • Eyebrows: Off wax brow bar • Hair: Ryder • Stylist: Claudia Renford• Sarah wears: Nikki Plowman green kaftan top, cashew slip, Diva necklace. Sakaguchi for the millhouse paisley top, Diva necklace