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Why this homeowner says bigger is not always better for a family home

Dawn Bannister shares her top tips for styling a small family home with kids and how to budget for a new build

Meet + greet

Dawn Bannister, 50 (mental health manager), Adam Bannister, 48 (education worker), Ollie, 14, and Eliza, 7, plus Bonnie the West Highland terrier.

Dawn’s top tips

1. Don’t get sucked into believing bigger is always better. Living in a smaller house is easier, more affordable and better for the environment.

2. Use your garage space. With Auckland land prices, that’s a whole lot of cash for a car park. Ours acts as a laundry, storage area and play space, plus it holds all our out-of-season clothing.

3. If you can accommodate a central vacuum system in your home, do it. They’re so easy and never lose suction.

4. In a two-storey home with kids, find places for toy storage on the ground floor and future-proof by adding a study area for homework.

Style it

  • Turn a plain white kitchen into a fun throwback with a few well-chosen vintage-style appliances and accessories.
  • Have a play with black shapes in white spaces – straight lines, curved forms and soft textures make a bold statement.

Honesty box

Best lessons learned? Dawn: Not to be trend driven (that lesson took a long time and a lot of money!).

What would you never do again? Use coloured tiles; they just weren’t for me. I tried them in an earlier home and never felt at peace with them.

One thing you’d change about your home if you could? Have a door into the snug instead of it being open to the hall. TV sounds travel and Bonnie the dog loves to sneak onto the sofa at night.

Most memorable experience you have had in your home? Eliza had a sleepover party and we went quite overboard and filled the living room with tepees and flowers. It was the perfect size to accommodate a tribe of girls with lots of room to party.

Budget tips

What areas of your home do you save or splurge on? I advise splurging on lighting if you can.

Do you tend to buy high-end homeware or seek out a bargain? Nowadays I’m far more into buying the best I can so that I can love items for a long time.

Best advice when it comes to spending money on a home? Think carefully about what you need and why. Do all the research.

See more of the Beachlands home below


Photography by: Helen Bankers.

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