Design News

The Reno of the Year winner is an elegantly restored New Plymouth villa

Taking care of both the big picture and the small details while transforming their home was a winning formula for this clever couple, who take home the $10,000 cash prize for COLORSTEEL®  Reno of the Year 2019

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From the reworked floor plan to the addition of heritage features, Emma and Josh Smaller’s New Plymouth villa shows how important it is to think both big and small when renovating. While the overall vision needs to be bold and cohesive, it’s the little details that make the end result a showstopper. Here, the couple share the lessons they learned during the reno.

Looking back, what was the biggest lesson you learned during your renovation?

We think the biggest lesson for both of us was learning to enjoy the journey. Sometimes we got too fixated on the outcome and forgot to enjoy the process and all that comes with that. We wanted to be in by Christmas 2018 before we got married in January 2019. We moved in at the end of October 2018 – well before our mental ‘cut-off’ date so in hindsight, there was no need to rush!

What are you most proud of?

We’re really proud to have stayed true to the original character of the home but enhance it in a way that is more ‘user-friendly’ if that makes sense. We’re proud and very fortunate to have our Kowhai Villa our place to call home.

Did you know what style you wanted the house to be before you started? Or did this evolve?

We knew that we wanted the style to be cohesive with the classic ‘colonial villa’ look. The timber floors are beautiful and we worked our way up from them. As much as white is the ‘safe’ option, it’s also classic and timeless. We chose texture over colour and this dictated the decisions we made around the materials we used and the character features such as the pressed tin panel, ceiling roses and brass detailing. We also wanted to make sure the space was really functional which meant a few minor structural tweeks along the way as the space started to take shape.

How did you source the heritage features like the pressed tin and stained glass? Do you have any tips for finding pre-loved gems?

The stained glass is original so we had it repaired by a local woman who specialises in stained glass art. Bungalow and Villa provided the spindles, fretwork and lacework on the deck. The pressed tin panel was from Ico Traders in Christchurch. The plaster ceiling roses are all made locally, just down the road from us at Superior Plasterers.

We have tried to keep it looking as ‘original’ as possible despite everything except the floorboards and the front door being new. We think it’s just about doing the research around what you really love and what is going to suit the space and not getting too caught up on the latest and greatest trends.

Do you have a favourite spot in the house?

We both love the kitchen and the window seats in the kitchen and dining room. The kitchen will always be the hub of any home we live in. Emma loves to cook and we both love to entertain with family and friends. There is so much more light that comes through during the day with the addition of the French doors and it’s just a really lovely calm, yet light and bright space. Window seats are a great addition! Extra seating and storage, a place to sit with a book and a cup of tea and perfect for afternoon napping.

What are your favourite homeware brands / stores?

We have collected a few things from TradeMe over the years. Our bedside drawers, vintage alcohol cabinet and bath are all off there. We really like the minimalist aesthetic of furniture at Citta so our coffee table and dining table are both from there as well as a few of our cushion covers. We also love A&C Homestore for their linens. Ruthie Frank is a local ceramicist who creates beautiful mugs and dishes and we are lucky to have a few of her lovely pieces around the house. Mette K is also a great wee homeware store down the road from us. We were gifted our rattan deck chairs from there for our wedding.

Do you have any other updates you’d like to do to the house?

We (Emma) jokes about Stage Two. We want to add an outdoor area off the kitchen that is protected from the elements and can essentially be a second living/dining area in the summer time. We also have a lot of landscaping to get through including pouring all of the pathways around the house, planting the gardens and getting the vegetable beds ready.

How does it feel to win the Colorsteel® Renovation of the Year competition?

We’re stoked! We’ve had lovely feedback from people. We love our home, and it’s pretty special when others notice the little details and offer congratulations on a project well done.

From the judges

“I was really impressed with all the finalists but Emma and Josh’s villa was a standout. Not only was it one of the most ambitious entries we saw but it was finished to a very high standard with brilliant attention to detail. One of the highlights for me is the kitchen – it’s a gorgeous space that perfectly suits the house and their lifestyle. The thoughtful addition of heritage elements throughout also makes it a really special home that they should be very proud of.”

– Katie Newton, Your Home and Garden Editor

“Emma and Josh’s project stood out from the rest of the entries thanks to their vision and skill and their commitment to honouring the home’s heritage. From top to bottom, it is a very well-executed renovation. Congratulations.”

– Sarah Pepworth, Head of marketing, Colorsteel®


COLORSTEEL® – for a home you can be proud of. Colorsteel.co.nz

Words by: Katie Newton. Photography by: The Virtue.

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