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A frumpy and forlorn bach is transformed into a forever home

This resourceful family used their talents, and those of their family and friends, to turn a tired, retro bach into a cool, cohesive home


A frumpy and forlorn bach is transformed into a forever home

Who lives here? Shelley Down, blogger and small business owner, Corey Down, tiler, in the process of becoming a police officer, Mason, 3, and Beau, 1.
Where is your home? Paraparaumu Beach.
How long have you lived here? Four and a half years. We plan for this to be our long-term home.

The home

Why did you purchase the house? Shelley: It was in a great location (200 metres from the beach, close to good schools) and had a massive section.

What did you love about it? We loved its potential. Everything needed to be updated, so it was a real blank canvas. Our favourite feature emerged when we pulled up the multicoloured carpet to find rimu flooring in pristine condition throughout the entire house.

What was in need of improvement? The house had been a holiday home, so there was no bathroom – just a shower and toilet, and no basin. That was our first project! There was also no hot water in the kitchen – we had to boil the old Zip on the wall.

The renovation

Tell us about the renovation process. We stripped the house back to its frames, rewired, reclad, and rebuilt everything. The whole process took around two and a half years.

What did you tackle first? We renovated the bathroom. We tiled the floors and added a bath, acrylic shower, vanity and toilet.

What changes did you make to the bedrooms? There were two massive rooms filled with bunk beds. We divided these into three bedrooms, a hallway, a linen cupboard and a cavity for our ensuite. After discovering the rimu flooring, we had it sanded back and polyurethaned. Lastly, we added an ensuite. We tiled the floors and shower, installed a vanity and toilet and had a custom circular mirror made.

And the kitchen? Our kitchen was custom-built by Chatswood Kitchens. We chose a matte white finish for the cupboards. Corey and his father took on the mammoth task of making concrete benchtops. These took two months to make and many men to install – the heaviest slab weighed around 400kg.


The final result

What’s your favourite part of the new space? The openness of the living area. I love being in the kitchen when we have guests over, with the kids playing out front where we can see them, and our guests sitting comfortably in the living area. Everything is just so accessible.

How does it work for your family? It works great. Everything is durable and robust enough to handle two toddlers. We didn’t want to be precious about the house, and wanted it to be well lived in. We come home from the beach and sand goes everywhere, and all it takes to clean is a quick vacuum.

Anything else you plan to change? We are building an extension which will house an additional living room, covered outdoor area, study and laundry. We are big entertainers so this will make the house perfect for whatever the weather throws at us.

Decor style

Describe the look you were going for. We wanted a neutral, relaxed, minimal vibe. We spend a lot of time at the beach and wanted that calm feeling to carry through to our home. I don’t like being surrounded by ‘stuff’, so the fitout is very modest (apart from the kids’ rooms).

You weren’t tempted to keep the retro look? While we both appreciated the retro vibe, it wasn’t our particular aesthetic. We are drawn to neutral, calming colours and minimal styling, and we wanted to put our own stamp on the house.



What was your budget? We didn’t define a budget, but tried to do things as cheap as possible to a certain standard. We wanted things to be of good quality, without breaking the bank.

Did you use tradies or do the work yourselves? We are lucky to be surrounded by tradesmen. My dad was our builder, Corey was the tiler and I used to work for an electrical firm, so we had a lot of friends helping us out. We initially did the painting ourselves, and quickly learnt that it is important to get professionals to do the job. My motto is ‘If you’re going to do it, do it properly’, so we hired a professional painter.

What did you save on? We saved on the concrete benchtops, which really make the living space. We did a lot of DIY projects – we made the dining table, entertainment unit and Mason’s bed. I have a keen eye for bargains so the furnishings were bought at a reasonable price.

What did you splurge on? The Mini Grandi Artist prints in our dining room were a bit of a splurge for us. We didn’t splurge on much, though; we just used our creativity.

TOTAL: $65,000 – $70,000


Get the look

All walls in Resene ‘Black White’.

Dining/kitchen Table and bench seat homemade; chairs from Zuca; chevron rug from Freedom; cushions from Ikea; pot on table homemade; artworks from Mini Grandi Artist; cabinetry from Chatswood Kitchens; benchtop homemade; splashback tiles from Tile Warehouse; tapware from Zip Plumbing; bar stools from Mocka.

Main bedroom Bedlinen from Jamie Kay; check throw from Country Road; side table and wall hanging homemade; light from Kmart.

Ensuite Wall and floor tiles from Tile Warehouse; vanity from Bunnings; mirror made by Paraparaumu Glass; shelf from Mocka.

Mason’s room Bed homemade; bedlinen from Sack Me; spot rug from Akia; postbox from Mocka; stove homemade; guitar from The Music Store; decals from 100 Percent Heart.

Beau’s room Cot from Ikea; linen from Cotton On Kids; duvet cover from Burrow & Be; cowhide from Briscoes; dolls’ house and floating shelves homemade.

Bathroom Flooring from Tile Warehouse; shower and vanity from Mitre 10; round mirror from Kmart; wooden hooks from Iko Iko; towel from Citta; ‘man/woman’ signs from a store in Kerikeri.

Words by: Fiona Ralph. Photography by: Nicola Edmonds.

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