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A house destined to be a rental becomes a colourful family home

What was supposed to be a renovation-turned-rental will be home for this colourful stylist and her family for a little while longer yet

A house destined to be a rental becomes a colourful family home

In 2013, Andrew and Lulu Wilcox were on the hunt for an investment property, focusing their search on the fringes of Auckland’s city centre.

A few months in, they viewed a property in Grey Lynn – a small, run-down bungalow with a large, flat, sunny back section with potential for subdivision. This immediately caught property developer Andrew’s attention (the site would eventually accommodate eight homes). For Lulu, though, the bungalow was less alluring.

She could see the potential of the section and was happy to go ahead with the purchase, but knew it would be a challenge to get the house habitable. “We would be living here for a couple of years, so I wanted to create as much space as possible without spending too much money on the interior,” she explains.


  • No indoor-outdoor flow.
  • A dark and dated interior.
  • The home lacked colour and texture.


  • Lulu and Andrew adjusted the home’s layout. The original master bedroom which overlooked the back garden has become the living room. A large rear deck was built and bifold doors installed to create a seamless flow from the living area to the outdoors.
  • The ceilings were raised to expose some of the original wooden trusses, and the floors throughout were painted white. The tired bathroom and kitchen were replaced.
  • Feature wallpaper and paint in fresh white, sophisticated pink and delicate blue have dramatically brightened the interior, while a ceiling-to-floor shelving unit filled with interesting objects and trailing plants provides plenty of interest in the living room.

Expert Q&A with Gemma Yeoman from Flora n Fauna

Why did Lulu enlist your help?
We got talking one day at an event. Lulu said she wanted to introduce living plants into her home but really needed guidance on how to keep the plants looking their best as she tended to kill them!

What were you hoping to achieve with the project?
To add plants as another layer of texture in the amazing, colourful decor that Lulu is famous for. I also wanted to help her understand what plants work where and how to look after them. I think the greenery allows the inside of the house to have a connection with the outside, and creates a feeling of freshness among Lulu’s collection of beautiful things.

What is your number-one tip for keeping indoor plants alive?
Don’t over-water. Have a watering schedule and give your plants a drink once a week at the same time, then let the soil dry out before their next drink.

Click here to view the full story on this creative and colourful home.

Words by: Annick Larkin. Photography by: Helen Bankers.

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