This cute-as-a-button nursery makeover is filled with interior inspiration

This sweet, nature-inspired nursery is just one part of this couple’s renovation and subdivision project in Auckland’s Mt Wellington


Who lives here? Rachel Barthow, 31 (social worker and design student), Matthew Barthow, 34 (television programmer), and Zanthe, 7 months.


What did you do to prepare the nursery for Zanthe’s arrival?

We knocked down the existing shelving unit on the wall, stripped the wallpaper, painted the walls, ceilings and trims, sanded the floor, added a new pendant light, and hung new curtains. We put up the shelves, too. The stained-glass window was there when we purchased the house and was in great condition, so all we did was paint the surround.

How did you want the room to feel?

I wanted to create a contemporary nursery with an organic feeling, so we used a lot of natural materials in their raw state (unfinished wooden cot, rattan armchair, bamboo mirror). I also wanted it to seem like an extension of our home, so the room is pretty gender-neutral. I designed it with the hope it would become a little haven for Zanthe and me, and that meant a calm colour palette and not over-cluttering the space (which is hard with so much baby paraphernalia!).

How did you choose Resene ‘Sea Fog’ for the walls?

We wanted a white with a hint of grey for the walls, so it was a pretty easy choice, plus our friends had used Resene ‘Half Sea Fog’ on their walls so we knew it would work on the trims, doors and ceiling. It created the perfect versatile backdrop for our nursery.

Did you shop for furnishings with a vision in mind, or did you work it out as you went along? What were the key pieces that made it all come together?

I love rugs so finding the right rug took me a really long time. That and the animal prints (which Zanthe loves) were the original pieces I found for the room, and I worked the design around them. The hardest part was searching for the right chair, but when I finally found the rattan armchair on Trade Me, it felt like it was supposed to be a part of the room all along.

What do you love about the nursery?

As this room doesn’t have a wardrobe (something we’d like to remedy in the future), we had to improvise in the storage department – we think the little shelves we added are pretty neat. We also love the stained-glass window as it speaks to the character of the house (and also acts as a night light for Zanthe). It’s my favourite room in our house.

When did you buy your home? What did you like about it?

We bought this home, our second, approximately two years ago. We love the area, especially how close it is to Sylvia Park shopping centre and the motorway. We loved how much land (1158 square metres) came with the property and that it was zoned for development in the new Auckland Unitary Plan.

What changes have you made since moving in?

We are currently subdividing the property into three lots (with the plan to build two homes at the back). We moved the existing house to the front of the section and renovated it. This included stripping the wallpaper and painting throughout, pulling up the carpet and sanding and polishing the floorboards underneath, installing new lights, adding a laundry (which was in a shed), completely renovating the bathroom and dividing off part of it to create a separate toilet, and giving the kitchen a makeover with some paint and a new benchtop.

Was it a DIY job or did you use professionals?

We did as much of the renovation ourselves as we could, including all the painting, and worked with Optic Build to project-manage the rest. Our biggest problem was underestimating how long it takes to paint an entire house, especially in the height of summer and without any electricity hooked up! I had just found out I was pregnant and was pretty exhausted, so Matt did most of it himself.

Best lesson you learned?

As this was our first renovation, we were learning throughout the process, but the best lesson was to be realistic and generous with timeframes. We were caught out and were only ready to move back into the house two weeks before Zanthe’s due date!

Total spend

Including all the furnishings


Scroll down to see the before & afters 


Shop this look: 

  • Animal artworks from The Animal Print Shop.
  • Cot by Kalon from Nature Baby.
  • Wooden shelves and plant pot from Shut The Front Door.
  • Letter blocks from Mummum. Rainbow blocks from Baby Bird NZ.
  • Clothing from Jamie Kay and Nature Baby.
  • White knitted blanket and gold side table from Kmart.
  • Pink linen throw from Bohème Home.
  • Rug and star mirror from Urban Outfitters.
  • Pendant from Lighting Direct.
  • Chair and grey shoes from Trade Me.
  • Star coat hangers from Baby City.
  • Basket (with plant) from Father Rabbit.
  • White sheepskin a gift.
  • Curtains from Harvey Furnishings.
  • Drawers from Lily Jane Boutique.
  • Walls painted in Resene ‘Sea Fog’, trims in Resene ‘Half Sea Fog’.

Words by: Sally Conor. Photography by: Helen Bankers.

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