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How this couple gave a dark and dated Titirangi home new life

Some deft tweaks and a new colour scheme saw this previously dingy mid-century home in Titirangi become a classic natural beauty

Meet + greet

Jane Smith, 37 (public policy researcher), Bryan Smith, 38 (data scientist), Edmund, 6, Lizzie, 4, and Charlie, 1.

Problems & solutions

Problem: The galley kitchen was dark and dated
Solution: Removing a wall between the kitchen and dining let in light and improved airflow, while a new palette gave the space a natural feel.

Problem: The house was cold and damp during winter
Solution: Five heat pumps were installed to heat the house and keep it dry.

Problem: The house was a little dim and dingy
Solution: Fresh white paint brightened the interior.

Honesty box

Best lesson learned? Jane: It can take time to find good tradies, but taking that time is well worth it in the end. When we moved into the house, the deck spa pool wasn’t working. We got it fixed, but not well, and when it inevitably stopped working again, we had several tradies and companies out to take a look. They all gave it up for dead, until we found Chris at Crystal Clear Pools, who not only fixed the pool but did the job quickly and for an extremely fair price. It took us nearly two years to find a good tradie to fix the pool, but it was so worth it.

What would you never do again? Never underestimate the bush. Coming from more traditional urban suburbs, we moved into our home thinking that the bush setting would mean less yard maintenance than a lawn. But the bush grows and encroaches and needs to be tamed quite often. It’s lovely but it is a lot of work.

Any DIY disasters? Bryan built the kids’ bunk beds last winter. Once he had cut all the pieces of the bed and assembled the sides, he wanted to paint it before putting it all together. But he needed somewhere to do it that would stay consistently dry over about a week.

Our au pair had recently left so Bryan brought the bunk-bed pieces in and painted them in her old room (which later became Charlie’s room). He put down a drop cloth, but it turns out that paint can soak through drop cloth! There were some sizeable circles of blue paint on the carpet when he was done. Lesson learned – furniture painting should never be done on carpet.

Is there one thing you would change about your home if you could? The master ensuite. Bryan loves the vintage silk-screened shower door, but between the carpet (that our daughter spilled makeup on), the tiled vanity top (with grout that never quite comes up clean) and the showerhead that shoots in every direction but at the person showering, it would be the next thing to go if we were staying.

Most memorable experience you have had in your home? Nearly giving birth to Charlie in the living room!


How much have you spent on your home? We’ve probably spent about $65,000 on renovations – $50,000 on the kitchen, $7000 on the shed and $8000 on the heat pumps.

How did your budget compare to your actual spend? We stuck pretty well to our budgets on the renovations. Luckily we didn’t have many surprises along the way that would have blown out our costings.

What areas of your home did you save or splurge on? We definitely splurged on the heat pumps, but good climate control is important to us, and multiple heat pumps made the most sense for us (a ducted system wouldn’t work as well over three levels). We saved a bit in the kitchen; our original vision for the space included bamboo countertops, but we quickly discovered they would be about twice the price of engineered stone.

Best advice when it comes to spending money on a home? Take time to know what you really want. We’ve never done renovations without living in the home for at least several months – if not a year – to know how we use the space, and what we want and need. Plus it gives you time to really research what’s available, how much it all costs, and where bargains are to be found.

See more of the mid-century home below

Builder Origin Builders
Kitchen design and cabinetry Kitchen Mania
Spa pool repairs Chris Boyd, Crystal Clear Pools

Photography by:  Helen Bankers.

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