A tired 1960s weatherboard home has been transformed into a modern bohemian dream
Buying a house can be a difficult process, but when the home of your choice is more ugly duckling than beautiful swan it makes the process that much harder. Fortunately, Tim and Amanda Fitzsimmons are very good at recognising the potential of seemingly unattractive spaces.
Four years ago when the couple discovered an ex-rental 1960s weatherboard house in the Auckland suburb of Beach Haven, they knew it would become their second home despite its less-than-obvious charms.
“All the features were covered up,” says Amanda, a stylist and artist at Rococo and Rose. “Carpet hiding the floorboards, net curtains hiding the view, and the back lawn was so overgrown and filled with rubbish.” But, as the old saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
The house just happened to have everything on the couple’s renovation checklist and they bought it an hour after their first viewing. “We fell in love with the light, the hallway, the water view and the floorboards. Everything else was pretty overgrown and run-down but we knew by the feeling of the house that it was the one,” recalls Amanda.
Its Beach Haven location was another very big plus. Tim and Amanda had bought their first house there 10 years earlier and had grown to love the area. But with the arrival of their two children, Phoebe and Archie, they needed somewhere bigger. “We had outgrown our first home and we knew that we wanted another do-up/renovation. As an interior stylist, I want to make spaces my own,” Amanda says.
The couple chose the streets they wanted to live in and door-knocked, posted pamphlets and worked with an agent to find “the one”. They were lucky because their hard work paid off and they were able to beat the competition and purchase their home before it made it onto the market.
Amanda says they got stuck in right away and filled up a skip bin with carpet, curtains and rubbish on the first day they took ownership. “I think I used 20 litres of bleach cleaning the ceilings. I couldn’t stop smiling when we finally ripped up the carpet and pulled the curtains down. I got goose bumps.”
Since then, the couple have renovated “pretty much the whole house”, working in stages over four years. First thing to go was the rotting deck out the front. They then decided to take a break and live in the 180-square-metre house for nearly a year before renovating the entire ground floor, replacing aluminium windows and relining walls as well as painting and carpeting the three bedrooms upstairs.
With a tight budget, Tim and Amanda had to do as much of the work themselves as possible. Having been “really hands-on” with their previous renovation, they were already dab hands with tools and paint brushes. They threw themselves into the job, painting the entire interior, insulating the ground floor, installing the kitchen and even making the concrete benchtop.
The couple also planned the layout of the interior, using an engineer to draw up their plans. “By living in the house for a year before renovating we knew where the sun was at its best during all seasons and what worked best for our family,” says Amanda. “It’s now perfect for us and we also have room to extend as the kids grow older.
“I get a real buzz from renovating,” she continues. “I love seeing the transformation. I sit down at night and go though Pinterest, Houzz and magazines, storing the ideas away in my head to use where and when I can. But for now, I’m enjoying renovating and styling other people’s houses now that ours is almost finished.”
Text by: Carol Bucknell. Photography by: Larnie Nicolson.