The character features in this classic bungalow have been given the most elegant update. We talk to the homeowner and interior designer to get all the details
Meet + greet
Emily White, 44 (sales manager at Les Mills), David McKellar, 48 (general manager, corporate travel), and Molly, 9, plus cats Colin and Malcolm.
Problems & solutions
Problem: Dangerous spiral staircase
Solution: Removed staircase and installed a timber replacement with a larger landing space at the bottom.
Problem: Downstairs was cold, dark, damp and little used
Solution: The space was reinsulated and reconfigured, with new windows installed to promote natural light.
Problem: Poorly arranged upstairs living spaces
Solution: Took down internal walls to create a light, open-plan living area with a modern kitchen and indoor-outdoor flow.
What areas of your renovation did you save on? Splurge on?
Emily: We splurged on the wooden flooring – it wasn’t even in the budget. We were hoping to use the original floors but when we took the carpet up in the living room it seemed an extension had been built many years ago and the woods weren’t matched.
Best lessons learned?
Go with your gut feeling and get an interior designer, if only to confirm what you are thinking. If you don’t understand something or can’t visualise it, speak to your tradespeople until you do. Ask them to explain, no matter how trivial it is, as it will bother you once it’s completed.
What would you never do again?
I would do it all over again. However, David doesn’t feel the same. It does consume all your time and doesn’t end once you have moved back in, as there are all the finishing touches. We are still working on a few rooms.
Our original painter let us down and moved to the Waikato halfway through painting the exterior but quite happily took our money. He told us that he couldn’t paint the rest of the house as it was winter. Resene came to the rescue and found us a new painter who was great.
What’s one thing you would change about your home if you could?
We would make the external door in Molly’s bedroom bigger to let even more light in.
Most memorable experience you’ve had in your home so far?
Enjoying the whole house and being warm!
Expert Q&A: Rachel O’Connell, interior designer, Style My Abode
What was the style brief and how long were you involved in the renovation?
Emily and David were feeling overwhelmed by all the decisions that needed to be made, so the brief was to help them pull together a cohesive and fresh family home. I was involved for about five months.
What colour palette did you settle on, and why?
We kept it simple with a light grey and white scheme, with dark wooden features and brass accents. This enabled us to choose bolder patterns and colours in the soft furnishings and rugs.
The grey Dulux Manorburn on the walls looks slightly lilac, which adds a really lovely, romantic feel to the home. As it’s a cooler colour, I suggested using a warm-toned wooden floor to help cosy up the space and make it feel more homely.
How did you bring visual interest into the home?
The home retained the beautiful leadlight windows in the living areas and the ceiling roses, which really are special. I specified the bold palm-leaf ‘Martinique’ wallpaper on the study wall, which is visible from the living and dining areas, to add interest and impact, and white wooden shutters throughout the entire upstairs area to help keep a cohesive, polished look.
Wallpaper was added in the upstairs toilet and feature tiles in the bathrooms. Brass accents were used throughout the home, including handles, lighting and custom-made bar stools. The kitchen island was changed to one made of dark wood-effect Melteca to lend depth. We also brought in some bolder colours in the bedrooms with throws and cushions.
What were the main challenges you faced?
We had a delay on one of the custom bathroom vanities, which we had to change at the last minute, but it worked out fine in the end.
What aspect of the interior design are you most proud of?
I love that the home is both cohesive and elegant while keeping to the character and charm of the original bungalow. It’s had an amazing transformation and is now such a gorgeous family home.
See more of the home below
Interior designer Rachel O’Connell, Style My Abode, 021 414 315.
Builders Guy and Wayne Davis, Super City Homes, 021 506 800.
Electrician James Smith, James Smith Electrical, 021 254 9737.
Flooring Forté Flooring, 0508 35 66 77, forteflooring.co.nz
Joinery AM Joinery, 09 478 8503, amjoinery.co.n
Lighting Mr Ralph
Furnishings Citta, IMO, Mr & Mrs Ward, Soren Liv, St Clements
Wooden shutters Brightshine
Tiles Tile Space
Styling by: Rachel O’Connell. Photography by: Helen Bankers.