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How this resourceful couple transformed an old barn into a family home

An untamed farm and basic barn house looking out towards Waihi Beach was the ideal project for this handy family. See the before and afters below

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Meet + greet

Kate Clay, 42 (interior designer), Brent Clay, 49 (licensed building practitioner), Stella, 17, Riley, 8, and Tex, 7.

Honesty box

What did you do yourselves? And what jobs did you call in tradies for? Kate: Being a builder, Brent led the project with his team. Sub-trades were contracted but this house was mainly a Clay/Amor family collaboration, with my brothers helping us with the redesign, Brent’s dad, Bob, helping with the building, exterior painting and tiling, and my mum, Marg Amor, in charge of the landscape design.

Future plans? We plan to put in a permanent swimming pool. Plus, at the bottom of the property is an amazing flat paddock with a cluster of established trees and a large creek running through it; you can also access a bush walk and waterfall from there. We plan to build a few little glamping cabins down there so others can enjoy this place.

Any other cool stuff you’ve done? Last year we worked with our local council to form a riparian wetland in the middle of our shallow gully. This has created a cool wild duck pond.

Kate’s favourite vintage pieces

  • The liquor cabinet. It was found on Trade Me but has an awesome back story: it was a wedding gift to Maurice Paykel (of Fisher & Paykel) and is absolutely immaculate.
  • Riley’s desk is the exact same as one I had as a little girl. I’d been looking for one for years and spotted it in a Salvation Army store.
  • Riley’s oak bed frame was found by my brother in his flatting days over 25 years ago.
  • The fireside chair in Stella’s room is one of my grandmother’s pieces. We re-covered it a few years ago and still love it.
  • Most of the art is my grandmother’s, collected during the 1950s. My childhood favourite is the insect-laden floral still life in our bedroom.


What did you save on? Everything apart from the roof, windows, plumber, concrete works and decking.

What did you splurge on? The windows took a big chunk of the budget, but with a view like this it’s one of the most important parts of the design and the lifestyle.

Total spend? About $270,000. Our budget was based on using Brent and his team for labour. Most of the sub-trade work was discounted and, thanks to our work contacts, we got trade deals for materials, products and fittings. So what we spent versus what a normal build would cost, is quite different. This is the main reason we buy do-ups, because with our skill sets and abilities, it costs us quite a bit less than a consumer build.

See more of the home including before & afters below


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