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Jen Hayes gave her Auckland apartment a major makeover for $45,000

Constraints such as ‘time’ and ‘ankle surgery’ were mere molehills for Jen Hayes, who completely overhauled her Auckland apartment in six months

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Jen Hayes gave her Auckland apartment a major makeover for $45,000

Who lives here?
Jen Hayes, 25 (engineering student and construction manager).

The project
Most people complain that home renovation is a long, drawn-out process, but not Jen Hayes. She had her apartment reno banged out in six months (including a break for ankle surgery) and even that seemed like a drag! Her high expectations make sense when you know she works as a construction manager heading up $200 million-plus projects. But the game is very different when it’s your own pad – and your own money.

Budget
Total: $45,000

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Pros
+ Great location, 300m from the Grey Lynn shops
+ Easy access to all motorways
+ Close to the CBD and a short drive to cool suburbs including Kingsland and Ponsonby
+ Good layout with lots of potential for improvement

Cons
+ Dated and dark
+ In dire need of extra storage

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Bathroom makeover

Being au fait with the construction world, Jen had a good understanding of the order in which everything should happen.

What did you do first?
I figured that living here while renovating would be messy so I started with the messiest task: ripping out my bathrooms. Once they were rebuilt (I did one at a time so I could still shower) I looked at the rest of the project.

Did anything slow down the process?
There were a few delays on the bathrooms due to custom-made shower bases, needing consent, and the Christmas/New Year break in the middle. I’ve learned for next time!

How did you choose your tiles?
The hexagonal tiles I used in the showers are quite popular but they’ve been around for ever so I didn’t think they would date quickly.

Are those the same floor tiles in the bathrooms and kitchen?
Yes, I made the decision just a few hours before flying to Sydney, so I bit the bullet and fronted up the cash. But it was worth it.

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What did you learn from this renovation?
Because I work in the industry, I didn’t learn anything technical, but I did learn that I need to switch off mentally from projects – it felt like I was never away from work because if I wasn’t managing my large expansion project for my job, I was managing my own one at home. I couldn’t relax.

I also struggled to separate the emotion from my home renovation, even though I was trying to treat it like a professional project. I enjoyed the design element but should have handed it over to my builder to manage the execution. Financially, I had to live here or with my parents (for free) while I did it. For my next project, I have made the decision to rent and complete it from afar – I’m in a better position to do it that way now.

Style secrets

What’s your advice for making decor choices?
Keep your decisions practical at least half the time – for example, rather than buying a Moroccan pouf for a foot rest, I purchased one of Tim Webber’s bigger poufs that are quite solid on top so it works as both a footrest and a coffee table of sorts. I also chose a straight couch rather than an L-shape – I wanted the ‘L’ but that won’t necessarily work in my next house so I had to compromise and find a suitable alternative.

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What choice gave you the best value?
Buying all my furniture, fixings and equipment (tiles, joinery, tapware, etc) upfront. Because I purchased these all in one big transaction, I managed to get a decent discount because of the size of the sale.

Favourite room in the apartment?
The lounge. It felt so cold before and wasn’t a nice place to be, but now it’s very warm and inviting. I splashed out on some pretty cushions and throws from Citta Design for the couch, which made it a super-cosy hangout last winter, whether I was reading a book, writing an essay or working from home. Before, I used to just stay cuddled up in bed on cold days!

What’s your top piece of design advice?
Choose a theme and stick to it. I used one type of timber and my theme colours (black, pale pink, white and army green) throughout, with handles, throws, linen, towels and artwork in those colours, too.

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Jen’s storage hacks

  • Wall-mounted bathroom vanities look modern and add extra storage
  •  Crates are a cool way to store and display books
  • Make use of existing alcoves and gaps to build shelves for less-used items such as linen, suitcases and cleaning equipment

Words by: Debbie Harrison. Photography by: Todd Eyre.

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