Inside homes

A modern family home with plenty of personality

Monochrome styling and an eye for design have transformed this tired 1980s property northwest of Auckland into a modern family home 


Who lives here? 

Kelly Wright (owner and designer at The Little Interiors Co), husband Shane (construction project manager), Tyler, and Paige, plus Brocky the Jack Russell.


In 2007, recently married couple Kelly and Shane Wright purchased a small, rundown 1980s home in the small township of Huapai, northwest of Auckland. The area appealed as the homes in Huapai came with generous sections, plus, being on Auckland’s fringes, the district had fantastic potential for growth and development. With Shane’s background as a builder, the couple planned to move in and renovate, with a view to creating a family home before having children.

It was small

but we could see the potential

“The home was tired,” recalls Kelly. “It had particle-board ceilings with dark stained beams in every room. The walls were royal blue and yellow with cream trims and the blue carpets were threadbare. The kitchen was painted red with matching cabinetry. It was small but we could see the potential.”

The renovation

While living on site, the couple began plotting their renovation, which would involve more than doubling the floor area from 79 square metres to 193 square metres. After a year in the house, the couple had a good idea of what their ideal layout was and together they designed their floor plan. They then employed a draughtsman to draw up the concept drawings and submit all the necessary consents to council.

“We had already designed and built two new homes, so we had a pretty clear idea about what we could do and, spatially, what would work best for the site,” explains Kelly. Their design flipped the original layout 180 degrees. They relocated the bedrooms to the front of the home and extended the rear of the house to include an open-plan living, kitchen and dining area. “We installed a concrete floor in the extension and replaced all the joinery. We stripped back the old walls and literally started again.”

Project managing the reno was fairly straightforward with the couple sharing the load; by this stage Kelly was pregnant with their son Tyler, now 6. Unlike most renovations, the pair weren’t thrown any curve balls and there were no unexpected costs. The updated home now includes three bedrooms, two modern bathrooms, an outdoor kitchen/living area and generous double garaging.



The update

Last year the couple decided to redecorate, with Kelly – who has her own interior design business, The Little Interiors Co – keen to put her skills to work. The finished look is beautifully cohesive. The house is mostly painted in neutral tones (Resene ‘Tea’ in varying depths), yet the occasional black wall creates a striking impact and keeps the environment interesting and stimulating.

In the children’s shared bedroom Kelly has injected large doses of style and personality by painting over-sized black geometric shapes on the walls. “I went with colour choices that would work well with the room’s existing decor and bedroom furniture,” she explains.

For the master bedroom, Kelly loved the idea of being in her own private gallery, so the walls are adorned with family photos and portraits of the children. “The gallery wall has been a work in progress as we collected the images,” Kelly says. “We installed Ikea ledge shelving as a clean and tidy way to display the frames, plus it makes it easy to swap photos in and out”.


Indoor/outdoor flow

Kelly and Shane love to entertain, so having an open plan living space was an important design feature when planning their renovation. That dream also extended into their outdoor area and the couple installed an outdoor kitchen and living room last year.


The end

Kelly and Shane have created a lovely family home that will stand the test of time thanks to its well-functioning layout and interior design. The monochromatic style is very organic and easy to adapt and tweak – Kelly admits she is forever changing things around.

However, the pair are ready for another home-makeover adventure and are soon to move about 15km, from Huapai to Muriwai on the west coast, where they will get to work on a four-bedroom house. We’re certain they’ll transform it into another beauty just like this one.

Words by: Annick Larkin. Photography by: Emma MacDonald.