Real Homes

A dated 50s gem is transformed into a modern family home

A ’50s home, complete with garish Axminster carpet and lino, receives a family-pleasing modern update with help from a beautiful beige and blush palette

50s home renovation, kitchen, Amie Brodie

When Amie Brodie first moved into her new family home in Otūmoetai, Tauranga, she didn’t feel confident they could make it work – despite husband Anthony assuring her of its potential. And, as it turned out, he was right. Hard work and a lot of patience have seen the couple transform the dated ’50s gem into a bright and welcoming family home. “I love that we’ve added our touch and made it ours,” says Amie. “It didn’t feel like ours when we moved in, but it does now. It’s home.”

50s home renovation, kitchen, Amie Brodie

How long have you lived here?

We have lived here 18 months. We bought the house in October 2019. What did you like about the house when you moved in? We loved the weatherboards, the character and the location. It’s close to all the schools for the kids, it’s central to town and Mount Maunganui is a quick drive over the bridge.

50s home renovation, open shelving

What didn’t you like about the house?

This is our first home together (Anthony had owned a place in Australia before we met that he’d renovated), so I didn’t have any idea about renovating. When I looked at the house, all I could see was a run-down house with wallpaper hanging off the walls, old Axminster carpet, horrible light fittings, mix-matched curtains and ’70s retro lino. There was only one very tiny single door pantry, the laundry was in a terrible state and don’t get me started on the tiny bathroom. Anthony kept telling me these are just superficial and that it has good bones. To be honest, I woke up the first morning in our new home in tears. I remember feeling so overwhelmed.


50s home renovation before shot kitchen


50s home renovation after shot

What changes have you made and why?

Kitchen: The kitchen has been painted and we painted over the cabinetry in white. Dad also made us floating shelves in oak for all my ceramics to keep out of children’s reach. We sanded and painted all the doors white and replaced all the old handles with matte black handles.
Flooring: The first thing we did was rip up all the old Axminster carpet that covered the hallway and lounge.We felt like we had struck gold when we found hardwood timber floors underneath.
Walls: I chipped away at the wallpaper – in some rooms there was up to five layers. It was tedious, but I found best results using a steamer. Then, room by room, Anthony plastered and skim coated the walls. I helped sand, and then we re-painted. If you’ve ever sanded plaster you will know that powder gets everywhere.


50s home renovation before shot living room


50s home renovation living after

Living room: With the help of Anthony’s father (an engineer) we were able to take out part of the wall between the kitchen and lounge to allow for more open plan living. It made such a difference. The accordion door was not my jam, so my father took it out and covered up the old gas fireplace for us too.
Bathroom: Anthony painted the bathroom walls and tiles in white and my father made some beautiful oak floating shelves.
Electrical: We replaced all the lights; I purchased several pendant lights and we put downlights in the kitchen. We replaced all the light switches and plug points with new ones.


50s home renovation bedroom before


50s home renovation bedroom after

Bedroom: In the main bedroom we ripped out the wardrobe and an old set of built-in drawers so we could fit our king size bed in and side tables. We have a make-shift clothes rail in the meantime, but plan on building a new wardrobe in the future.
Exterior: Outside Anthony built a fence and I stained it. We’ve planted new plants and cleaned up the existing garden.

Any big setbacks or challenges?

Our first challenge was discovering that the floor had partially rotted in the laundry. We had to replace the flooring and get a new sink. Another flooring challenge was around the area where we took the fireplace out – there weren’t enough original floorboards to cover the empty space so my father took some floorboards out of the kids’ wardrobe – great save, Dad!

Then, when we ripped the lino up in the kitchen and dining room we found patches of particle board. We ended up sacrificing some of the flooring in the kitchen to pop in the dining room so that the beautiful tawa floorboards could flow right through the lounge through to the dining. We’ve covered the kitchen floors with a large rug for now until we decide if we tile, vinyl or use tawa boards from the bedroom.

Our biggest challenge was renovating with three kids, especially a toddler. He got into his fair share of paint.
I had a two-hour window each day while he napped to chip away at each room.

Was it DIY or did you use tradies?

It’s all been DIY. We have been very fortunate Anthony is a handy man, his father is an engineer, and my father is a cabinetmaker by trade but has also been in the building industry. We also have a friend who is an electrician, so he came and did all the lighting and switches for us. I’m so proud of what we have achieved.

What was your budget for the reno?

We didn’t have a budget, to be honest. All our money went into buying the house. It meant that week by week, as money came in, we would renovate. We would plan ahead and write lists of what needed to be done and prioritise. I’m not the most patient person and I’d sit there in the chaos wanting to fix it all at once, but we couldn’t. I had to learn to wait.

50s home renovation hallway

What have you splurged on?

I splurged on a few things here and there, mainly the decor but we won’t tell Anthony. We purchased a new couch and dining table from Freedom. I splurged on new linen for all the beds, mainly Foxtrot Home, as well as a few pieces from Citta, A&C Homestore and Adairs. My bedside lamp was a splurge piece, by Kiwi ceramic artist Deborah Sweeney.

And where have you saved?

We saved on all the shelving – my dad made these. Our blinds and sheers were a great price from Spotlight – Anthony cut all the blinds down himself to fit the windows. I think when we come to do the kitchen the tapware will be my splurge and the bathroom will be the tiling and tapware.

50s home renovation kids bedroom

What is/was your interior inspiration for the place?
I love coastal, Bali and beach vibes. Wood, rattan warm tones and lots of texture. I get inspiration from magazines, books and Instagram. Some of my favorite home inspo books include Our Spaces, Three Bird Renovations, The Kinfolk Home and Leaf Supply.

50s home renovation kids bedroom

What was the biggest change you’ve made in the house and how has it affected the way you live in it?

The biggest change was ripping out the wall between the lounge and dining/kitchen. It’s opened the area up and made it more functional. It used to be such a small and stuffy space. They definitely didn’t know much about open plan living back in the 1950s.

What do you look for in a good piece for the home?

I look for something that is timeless, pieces that I will love in years to come. Yes, sure I get some pieces that are on trend now and out next week but for the main pieces in our home I like to get pieces that I know I would still love in five even 10 years down the track. Neutral tones, wood, plants, 100 percent linen, open shelving are all timeless. On trend colours are always changing, you can add colour in soft furnishings and in your artwork etc.

What is your favourite spot in the house? And why?

I absolutely love the younger kids’ room. I love the colour block wall, the warmth the room brings and the fun I had styling it. It’s a room I only dreamed about as a child.

What has been your biggest learning about your home while you have been transforming it?

That everything takes time and money. It’s not a quick fix. Also, a lot of blood, sweat and tears. Renovating isn’t for the faint-hearted. There will be frustration, arguments and the chaos is real. But there is beauty at the end of the chaos where you can sit back and say we did this.

Words by: Bea Taylor. Photography by: Alice Veysey.

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