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A confusing family home undergoes a thoughtful renovation

A stylish renovation saw this home in Meadowbank, Auckland, swap dated peach walls and green vinyl benchtops for a fresh, modern scheme. Story by Debbie Harrison


Who lives here? 

Jen Morrison (graphic designer), Ben Morrison (lawyer), Mia, 7, Franklin, 5, and Alistair, 4.


The background

Jen, what did your home look like before? It was a two-storey 1960s/1970s house – very dated, very peach, very quirky. The bones of it were good, with living areas downstairs and bedrooms upstairs, but a bookshelf in the middle of the living area really interrupted the flow. The entrance to the house was tiny (it was hard for us all to squeeze in to say goodbye to guests) and visitors were always confused as to whether to go upstairs or down, because it wasn’t clear. The floors were cork, the fire was a retro adobe one and the kitchen cupboards had engraved doors. Did I mention the green vinyl benchtop? The house was in serious need of some modernisation.

Renovation details

When the family discovered there was a massive structural problem (from a previous renovation) that needed to be fixed, they decided to go the whole hog and renovate, creating an efficient home that would be fun to live in.

They resolved the small and confusing entrance and made the living area and brand-new kitchen bigger. The laundry was moved to the garage, the garage was connected to the house and the two upstairs bathrooms were renovated. They also made the most of the space under the stairs, adding an office for Jen with a secret door, and a walk-in wine cellar. The work took 20 weeks, in winter, during which time the family rented in another suburb.


Call in the experts

As a graphic designer, Jen is very creative, but “spatially, I’m inept,” she laughs. So they called in an architect who knew how to make the most of the space. She also used interior-designer friend Julie Lyons to help with the overall concept for the kitchen, and brought in experts to design their lighting – not an area to skimp on, says Jen. “Good lighting and fittings make the house look amazing at night. I really rate our lighting plan – downlighting on the slats, decent lighting in key areas, small lighting in the bathrooms, touch lights to turn on and then fade… Don’t overlook a good lighting plan.”

With the reno, Jen stuck to what she knew, overseeing and designing the kitchen, bathrooms and flooring – doing it herself saved the couple quite a bit of money.

Best makeover moment? 

“It was a definite high seeing the kitchen go in, especially the black wall and the hanging lights. The lights were from ECC and a bit of a splurge, but they add necessary colour and a bit of wow factor,” says Jen.

Words by: Debbie Harrison. Photography by: Jackie Meiring.

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