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Tireless attention to detail resulted in this amazing villa transformation

A year-long renovation transformed this traditional Mt Eden villa into a contemporary and luxurious bachelor pad. Story by Debbie Harrison 

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Q&A with homeowner Adam Thomson and interior designer Katie Scott

How did your budget compare to your actual spend? Adam: It blew out and cost double what I’d initially expected. Katie: Villas can be the hardest to renovate as you never know what you’re going to unearth. This was practically a rebuild. The bathrooms were on budget but the kitchen blew out with the Gaggenau appliances.

Any splurges? Adam: Heaps! The kitchen (having to do it twice to get it exactly how I wanted) and the appliances. The excavation to create a three-car underground garage was expensive, too.

Any bargains? Adam: I wish!

Most memorable moment? Adam: Coming back from a month in Thailand at Christmas and finding Katie and builder Dave had moved me in – they’d even made my bed. Unfortunately, the first kitchen company let us down but seeing the pool filled and the house pretty much finished was such a relief and a sense of accomplishment. Katie: Watching the pre-cast concrete fireplace being craned over the roof – I was scared and excited all in one.

Worst renovation moment? Adam: Finding out the concrete wall being craned in had damaged the neighbour’s property. I felt terrible as it must have been hard enough putting up with a rebuild next door for a year.

A renovation tip for others? Adam: If the zoning allows you to demolish, consider building a new villa rather than restoring one to this extent. It will be cheaper and quicker.

Best lesson learnt? Katie: When you want to push the boundaries with design and do something different, you need tradespeople who will go the extra mile to help you achieve it and who are skilled enough to make it work. Even the best design idea will never look good if it’s executed badly. I was really lucky in that respect to have Dave and DSM Construction to help me do that with this project.

Interior designer Katie Scott’s style secrets

  • I don’t like cutting off tiles mid-wall in bathrooms – if you have high ceilings, I reckon you should boast about it. You lose the feeling of the height if you stop halfway up. So we went the whole hog, tiling all the way to the top to make it feel grand. It also exaggerated the angles. It probably didn’t make me popular, though. I think the tiler’s only just talking to me again now!
  • Designing for males vs females: With design, you don’t design for a guy or a girl; you design for the person. It was awesome working with Adam and having to think about things a bit differently and being given the freedom to do so. Women generally take ownership of their house and have ideas whereas Adam was more wanting ideas to be brought to him, which was fun.


Words by: Debbie Harrison. Photography by: Helen Bankers.

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