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A beautiful but stressful renovation gave this family the space they needed

This family’s whole-hog renovation was a rocky road but they’ve emerged with a beautiful home designed ‘100 per cent’ for them ‘and zero per cent for resale

Mangere bridge renovation

Meet + greet

Vanessa Rehm, 41 (stay-at-home mum and blogger at vanessarehm.com), Shane Rehm, 38 (chief engineer at Fisher & Paykel Appliances), Tahlia, 9, Aston, 7, and Beau, 4, plus Simba the cat.


  • The family needed more space.
  • The laundry was too small for a family of five.
  • There was no defined entrance. The front door opened straight into the narrow space of the hallway.

Mangere Bridge renovation


  • A new master bedroom with an ensuite was added along with an office for Vanessa.
  • A combined laundry and mudroom was created, perfect for storing kids’ bags, jackets and shoes.
  • A roomy entrance was added with a practical, polished-concrete floor and wide wooden steps leading up to the living space. The concrete visually differentiates this area from the rest of the house.

What lessons did you learn about renos?

Vanessa: There were a lot! Mostly, how important it is to dot the i’s and cross the t’s, as boring as that can be. Shane was really good at reminding me to think about the house we’d end up with, when I was fixated on things that hadn’t been done perfectly or weren’t how we’d discussed them with our project manager.

It took me about six months to fall in love with the house after moving back in. I’d got so used to noticing all the bits that didn’t end up how we’d wanted that I couldn’t see the wood for the trees. But once it felt like home again, I never regretted a moment of the reno. I just didn’t enjoy the process at the time.

concrete look tiles, renovation

Best memories in your new home?

Bringing Beau home from the hospital and then spending two weeks watching Breaking Bad with Shane while he cooked bacon and eggs on the barbecue and the baby slept for longer than a baby should. All our kids’ birthday parties have been hosted at home and they have been so special. Also: family dinners with delicious food, singalongs, and evenings by the outdoor fire.

Any styling tips?

Mix and match pieces you like. Don’t buy everything dirt cheap because it won’t be good quality. I don’t like the wastefulness we seem to have adopted from following trends. A nice home can be created on a budget – there aren’t just two extremes of super-cheap and super-expensive.

Total renovation spend?

Approx $350,000

Scroll down to see more of the Mangere Bridge renovation



Kitchen and laundry cabinetry Kitchen Mania, kitchenmania.co.nz.
Appliances Fisher & Paykel, fisherpaykel.com.
Ensuite fittings and Buddy tapware Plumbline, plumbline.co.nz.
Ensuite design Katie Scott, ssdesign.co.nz.
Aluminium joinery and windows Fairview Windows, fairviewwindows.co.nz.
Front door Parkwood Doors, parkwooddoors.co.nz.
Existing aluminium joinery repainted by Systemex, systemex.co.nz.
Electrician Matt Carroll, MDC Electrical, 021 434 284.
Landscape design Ivy & Bloom, ivyandbloom.co.nz.

Words by: Debbie Harrison. Photography by: Vanessa Lewis.

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