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This family pulled off a beautiful renovation on a tight budget

The problem was poor indoor-outdoor flow and limited storage, but this family made the renovation possible with some clever planning and keeping their costs in check

This family pulled off a beautiful renovation on a tight budget

Meet and Greet

Kate Thorpe, 39 (director of Williams Road), Nick Thorpe, 41 (director of Oceania Medical and The Defib Store), Ralph, 5, Oscar, 3, Hugo, 2, and chickens Coco and Chanel.


  • Poor indoor-outdoor flow upstairs living areas prevented movement between inside and out.
  • Limited storage made the house unsuitable for a busy family of five.
  • Budget restrictions meant the family needed to keep costs down wherever possible.


  • Inverted the home’s layout so all living areas open directly onto the lawn and garden.
  • Maximised the roof cavity with pull-down attic stairs. Maximised space under the stairs by incorporating a large storage cupboard.
  • Kept costs in check by using a draughtsman rather than an architect, completing all council forms themselves and helping tradies on site

Budget: $800,000 approx.

Kate’s budget tips

  • Double everything – budget and time. For us, what was supposed to be four months turned into an 18-month-long project.
  • Get at least three quotes for everything. You will find quotes can vary significantly but you will need to weigh up price versus quality.
  • Get a quantity surveyor’s report done before you start so you know where you stand. Our builder gave us a ballpark figure, but it was way off.
  • Plan to get stuck in and help on site as it will keep costs down, but is also incredibly rewarding.

See more photos of this Auckland renovation below: 



Interior design: Kate Shanahan Interiors
Landscape design: Xanthe White Design
Kitchen design: Kristen Basra

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

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