Home Tours

A budget reno opens up a 1970s brick and tile to the ocean view

This duo put their DIY skills to the test transforming their rabbit warren brick-and-tile on Auckland’s North Shore into a functional, open-plan family home 

Who lives here? 

Amy Rennell (project manager, Auckland Airport), Ben Rennell (commercial business manager), Isla, 3, and Poppy, 10 months, plus family pooch Jack.

What were the problems with the home and what were the solutions?

  • Problem: Poor indoor-outdoor flow.
  • Solution: Ben and Amy installed floor-to-ceiling glass doors and large timber decks off the living and dining spaces.
  • Problem: The layout was like a rabbit warren which limited access to natural light and blocked views of the sea.
  • Solution: The walls separating the living area from the central hallway and the kitchen were removed to create an open-plan living, kitchen and dining space.
  • Problem: Dated 1970s finishes.
  • Solution: The couple got rid of the vinyl plank floors and carpets and installed timber laminate floorboards.

Expert Q&A with builder Lee Branford on the key details

How long were you involved in the Rennells’ renovation?

I came in to help Ben and Amy finish renovating their home as Amy was heavily pregnant and the project needed to be completed. Ben had done most of the work himself but I worked weekends and evenings for a couple of months to push the job to completion.

What were the main challenges you faced on this project?

The building jobs left to do were not too difficult. However, Ben and Amy occasionally changed their plans and that could be challenging at times. Having said that, this definitely happens on most jobs! I believe we were all happy with the way the job turned out in the end.

What part of the project were you most proud of?

The project I was most heavily involved in was the raised deck at the front of the house and it’s this area I’m most proud of. I was involved from start to finish and it turned out exactly how Ben and Amy envisaged it.

Words by: Annick Larkin. Photography by: Emma MacDonald.

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