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Old meets new in this beautiful Dunedin villa renovation

Old meets new in this stunning renovation of a seaside Dunedin villa, made possible with plenty of personal flair and a willingness to call in the professionals

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In a snapshot

Who lives here? Claire Williams (consultant), Kris Williams (investment adviser), Olivia, 5, and Tom, 2, plus Jake the pug.

Where is your home? St Clair, Dunedin.

How long have you lived here? Two years.

The project

Tell us what you changed.

We opened up three non-cohesive rooms to create a large open-plan kitchen/living/dining space. Little did we realise in the beginning that this would essentially involve ripping down the exterior walls and starting again. We also combined a separate loo and bathroom into a single, more functional family bathroom.

Did you enlist any professional help?

We already had a vision of what we wanted to achieve with the space. Coming from Sydney, we were keen to bring some of the elements we’d seen in homes over there to our beach pad in Dunedin – bearing in mind the difference in climate! Steve Mowat, our builder, was excellent at providing guidance and suggested a pitched roof with skylights, which has really made the room. My own ideas were validated with my interior designer, Talia O’Connor from MintSix.

Best makeover moment?

Seeing the concrete floor go down, and the pains our builder, Steve, went to, to make sure it was absolutely perfect. The kitchen going in was awesome, too, as it spelt the end of dining in our garage!



Describe your interior style.  I guess a bit of a mixture – maybe a cross between industrial, Scandi and French provincial? I don’t know! We already had some pieces from our travels, so we needed to tie those into our overall look. Talia O’Connor from MintSix also helped bring it all together.

Do you like to save or splurge when shopping? I like to splurge, but that’s not always possible.

Best buy? Coffee table from The Bronte Tram in Sydney.

Biggest investment buy? Our big leather couch from McKenzie & Willis.

What are your favourite shops? Locally, MintSix and Moi Design. Further afield, Father Rabbit, Indie Home Collective and Citta.

Top interior tip? It helps to have a friendly interior designer to float ideas with.


DIY details

What was the renovation process like? It was pretty straightforward, to be honest, and we were lucky Dunedin put on such a great summer as we were dining in our garage for four months.

What do you think of the final result? We absolutely love it. It has made the house a home, which is what we were aiming for.

What’s your favourite room and why? The kitchen – I love standing there and being able to see the whole room and see the kids playing outside. The new space has a concrete floor with underfloor heating and in the winter it’s a lovely place to be, without needing to load up on the sweaters.

Did you use professionals or DIY? Professionals, absolutely. We are all about outsourcing!

Who carried out the work for you? Steve Mowat was our builder, with the help of his assistants Jamie and Ryan.

How long did the process take? Four months, from November to March.

Worst makeover moment? When there was a storm with 140km winds whipping in from the south and our roof was only held up by a small wooden beam. We had a few very sleepless nights!



In what areas did you invest the most? Underfloor heating – most important in Dunedin. It has changed our lives.

Any budget blow-outs? Black Danish tapware. But they were worth it!

Where did you save money? The concrete benchtop. It’s very hard-wearing and much cheaper than other materials we looked at.

Best reno tip? Don’t cut corners. We were faced with decisions along the way where we had to either cut costs or take a leap and we never regretted the decisions where we took the more expensive route.

TOTAL: (approx) $150-$200K

Words by: Kristina Rapley. Photography by: Emily Hlavac Green.

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