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How this creative couple pulled off a stylish renovation for just $12,000

‘Ingenious’ and ‘Undaunted’ could be the middle names of these first-home owners who worked wonders on their little Birkdale brick beauty with just $12,000

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Meet + greet

Maiko Nagao Irvine, 35 (artist and creative director at maikonagao.com), Mike Irvine, 36 (electrical apprentice and former primary school teacher), and Kaito, 3.

Problems & solutions

Previous renos had led to an awkward layout. The hallway wall and dining-room archway were removed to create a sensible floor plan.

The kitchen was a beige eyesore. Sticky-back plastic and canny Trade Me buys have left the space unrecognisable.

Next to no money. Hello DIY floor-sanding and painting, useful friends, genius styling and amazing sticky-back plastic.

Maiko’s tips

  • Try mixing up styles. We’re loving vintage, mid-century and boho.
  • We used Resene VOC-free paint throughout. It didn’t cost any more than normal paint and it was really important for us as our son is sensitive to chemicals.
  • Fill your home with items that spark joy. What you love will never go out of style.

Honesty box

What would you never do again? Plastering!

One thing you’d change about your home if you could? We’d love to be able to add an ensuite or another toilet one day. And a deck off the lounge would be amazing.

Most memorable experience in your home? Every day is a memorable experience for us! We are so grateful to be able to have this house. Everywhere we look – every scratch, every crack, from floor to ceiling – has a story from the countless weekends and evenings spent DIYing.

What is your favourite room in the house? The kitchen – everything revolves around it.

Favourite feature? Kaito’s skateboard pendant light is a masterpiece by my husband, Mike. He’s a skate fanatic so it had to be done! Kaito thinks it’s pretty rad, too.


How much have you spent on your renovation so far? Just under $12,000 – that was all we had left after buying the house!

What areas of your home did you save or splurge on? We splurged on our appliances – fridge, dishwasher and washing machine – which we bought brand new.

Best advice when it comes to spending money on a home? Reuse, repurpose, recycle.

How did you keep track of your costs? Winged it… just like parenting!

See more of the renovation below

Contacts & supply shop

Builder and carpenter Ryan Hale, Hale Carpentry, 022 4877 926, hc.net.nz.

Sticky-back plastic and self-adhesive tiles Vinyl Home, vinylhome.co.nz.

Decor Alex & Corban, achomestore.co.nz.

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