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This colourful bungalow isn’t afraid to mix things up

Jewellery designer Cathy Pope’s renovated Waterview bungalow and home studio is a delightful mix of colour, “clutter” and creativity

This colourful bungalow isn’t afraid to mix things up

Meet and greet

Cathy Pope (jewellery designer and television costume stylist), Martin Hermans (advertising creative), plus dog Senna and cats Trixie and Gem.


Why did you decide to purchase your home?

We needed a large house because my brother was living with us while recovering from a brain injury. We didn’t have a massive budget and it was in an area we’d been renting in. We could also see it had lots of potential.

What did you love about it?

We loved the space the house offered. The separate living spaces and the studio met our requirements. The location was also ideal; a neighbourhood I had lived in for five years already and an area we both really enjoyed. We thought the setting was quite grand with its outlook and proportions. The views over the upper harbour on one side and Waitakeres on the other, and the north-west-facing aspect were also very appealing.

What did you not like about it?

It needed a complete makeover. It was tired and had some quirky additions and odd things that had been done over the years that needed undoing. There were many things we wanted to improve, like the stark white exterior and many of the interior aesthetics. The pool fence was also very ugly and made swimming quite unpleasant as the wooden railings made it look like a cage rather than inviting and fun.

Were there any issues you needed to fix?

As is often the case, we didn’t realise the extent of the project until we started the renovation. We discovered floors were not at all level and that the upstairs balconies weren’t watertight, which was causing leaks into the lounge. We had to completely replace both balconies at great expense for very little visual change. We also had to remove an unused chimney which was taking up a huge amount of space. The pool deck wasn’t in good shape, either. We started removing the top layer, only to find the joists were rotten, so we had to do a complete rebuild of the pool decking.

The makeover

What renovations did you undertake?

We spent two weeks before we moved in recarpeting, repainting, removing a conservatory and installing new window dressings and light fittings throughout. A few months later we added a new kitchen, and another few months later we completed new landscaping at the front of the house. We then painted the exterior, all in time for our wedding – we got married on the front steps. That set us up for five years, after which we did more major work like new bathrooms, redoing the pool fence and deck, extensive remedial work on two balconies and removing an old chimney.

What’s your favourite feature of the new space?

The redevelopment of our rear deck has made the outdoor area so much more pleasant and usable. The seated nook outside by the pool would be our favourite space. It’s gone from a messy corner housing the dog kennel and barbecue to the most utilised space outside. It feels like an outside lounge – we can sit there in the morning or evening and it’s cosy and protected, and great for entertaining.

How do you keep inspiration alive in your space?
I change the space all the time. It never stays the same for longer than a couple of months. The Zen garden in my courtyard catches the morning light, which moves over to the front of the studio in the afternoon, so the constant bright light keeps me feeling happy and inspired. The new addition of vintage display cabinets I bought from Victorian Gilt have added a touch of old that I was looking for.

The interior

Tell us about the styling in your home.

I’ve developed green fingers recently so the house is full of plants, which works with the bright open spaces and the natural light everywhere. Most of the interior walls are neutral but we’ve used a lot of colour in our furnishings and art. Our house is full of art we’ve collected on our travels and from friends who are photographers and artists, like Flox (Hayley King).

Hayley painted the mural by the pool about five years ago, soon after we moved in and had transformed the exterior wall from orange to dark green. It looked so austere being a solid colour, but one day I had a strong vision of a Flox mural. Hayley was keen so we designed it together and she painted it on planks over the water. It was the ideal way to brighten up a curved and difficult exterior wall.


How does it work having your studio downstairs?

Working from home is ideal for me. I love that my studio is separate from the house and has a separate entrance that my customers use, keeping my home private. I also enjoy having my animals around me, apart from the fur! The studio has evolved into a creative and inspiring space where I design and make as well as a showroom where customers visit by appointment. I attribute the success of my jewellery business to the transformation of this room. Every designer needs the right space to create their best work and I now have mine.


Did you use tradies or do the work yourself?

We did a lot of the easy things like interior painting and used tradies for everything else. What were the challenges of adapting a renovated bungalow? We inherited poor building standards from the various owners who’d made changes over the previous 50-60 years.

What was your budget?

We didn’t really have a budget as the work was done over a long period of time, but all up we spent about $150,000.

What did you save on?

A friend of mine painted the house and we did our best to find the best deals. We tried to save on everything but it wasn’t always possible, so we haven’t managed to complete everything we set out to do.

What did you splurge on?

The granite benchtop in the kitchen is a great example of an over- specification, but I love it and it does make the kitchen look incredible. We decided to do two bathrooms rather than just the one. After we saw the spare bathroom looking so beautiful, we realised that our ensuite didn’t look so great, so it had to be done, too. The new layout included a large shower that looks out over the harbour with amazing views. The new glass pool fence was also expensive but necessary.

Total spend


Words by: Fiona Ralph. Photography by: Helen Bankers.

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