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Alice and Caleb’s tips on renovating a century-old cottage for resale

Past winners of The Block NZ, Alice and Caleb Pearson’s latest project saw them turn a century-old Alexandra cottage into a modern family home. They share their top tips on renovating for resale

Meet + greet

Caleb Pearson, 32, Alice Pearson, 31 (directors of renovation company Pearson + Projects), Alek, 4, and Mika, 2.

Problems & solutions

Because the 1910 home was made of mudbricks, any structural change would be costly and complicated. The solution was to renovate the entire property without altering anything structural.

The outdoor area was overgrown and didn’t function well.  Alice and Caleb created spaces for outdoor living, entertaining and parking. A lawn was added and the garden landscaped.

The budget was limited as the couple were renovating for resale. Existing fixtures and fittings were restored and the pair relied on redecoration to make the biggest difference.

Honesty box

What features did you save or splurge on during the reno?

Alice: We saved on the kitchen splashback which Caleb tiled himself. We got the subway tiles for $25 a square metre from Trade Depot. The glossy white surface reflects the light, making the space seem brighter, and the overall effect gives the kitchen an expensive look without the price tag.

We also didn’t want to spend money on the bathroom when there wasn’t anything wrong with it, so we just painted the entire room and gave the copper pipes a good clean. Then we found this sweet dresser in an antique store for $130. With a coat of paint and new black handles, it was ready to be transformed into our vanity with the addition of a basin and tap from Trade Depot – in total it cost $357.

I put a lot of value on good lighting so we did splurge there. Our ceilings are 3.3 metres high so it was an opportunity to have great big hanging pendants – and that’s exactly what I did! My biggest spend here was the tall Gamba chandelier (in the lounge) in antique brass and oiled bronze, from Social Light for $989.

We spent on the drapes too as they were a chance to make a statement and also hold the heat in. I wanted a natural fabric to suit my design aesthetic, so I selected linen fabrics by Hemptech and had Russells Curtains create full-length drapes and a blind for the dining room.


Kitchen $7163
Bathroom $1342
Bedrooms $9795
Hallway $2393
Dining $2787
Lounge $3197
Outdoor areas $15,066
Laundry $3690
Total $45,433


Paint and wallpaper Resene
Bathroom hardware and kitchen appliances Trade Depot
Curtains Hemptech (fabrics)
Russells Curtains (curtain-making)
Kitchen hardware Archant
Lighting Mr Ralph
Social Light
Furniture Cintesi
Kids’ room decor Little Whimsy

See more of the impressive renovation below

Photography by: Sarah Rowlands.

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