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Sun, sand and surf drew this family from Auckland to Mt Maunganui

A need for a lifestyle change saw this family pack up their Auckland life and move into a 1960s Mount Maunganui bungalow, where every day is like a holiday


Sun, sand and surf drew this family from Auckland to Mt Maunganui

Sea, sun and surf drew Sarah Ingram and Roger Murtagh to Mount Maunganui from Auckland. “Roger and I wanted a lifestyle change,” Sarah says. “He is a keen surfer and I love the beach lifestyle. I spent all my holidays at Mount Maunganui as a kid – my grandparents owned a motel across the road from the beach – so I have lots of fond memories of the Mount. Living here now feels like I’m permanently on holiday!”

In order to follow their dream, the couple sold their unit in Auckland’s Herne Bay in August 2013 and moved, with all their belongings, to their Port Waikato bach for a year. This gave them some breathing space to search for a house to buy, and it wasn’t long before they found this 1965 bungalow with three bedrooms.

“Roger is an excellent handyman so we wanted something that we could add value to and create some wow factor with,” explains Sarah. The house required no structural changes as some major extensions had been added in the 1990s to make the living spaces open-plan. However, after being rented out for more than 10 years and sporting floor-to-ceiling beige, the house was looking decidedly drab and in desperate need of a makeover.

Sarah had some ideas in mind for the home’s new interior, but needed a steer in the right direction. A long-time fan of interiors blog Cush and Nooks (run by Napier interior-design team Bibby + Brady), she decided to contact them for some help. “I’ve always been a loyal Cush and Nooks follower so I knew we had a similar design aesthetic,” says Sarah. “I needed some help pulling my ideas together and loved the way Bibby + Brady combine colour, pattern and texture.”

Sarah created a walk-through video of the home’s interior and sent it, along with house plans, to Vic Bibby and Dael Brady requesting vibrant and fun spaces for entertaining family and friends, and a bright, breezy and functional interior with an edge – and a touch of sophistication. The interior of Sarah and Roger’s Herne Bay home had been mainly white, but this time they decided that colour was definitely the order of the day. “I spend a lot of time at home as a stay-at-home mum,” Sarah says. “I also work from home so I had to create an environment I enjoyed spending time in and wanted to surround myself with things I love.”

They started with the lounge as it’s not only the most used area but also came with some unusual nooks and crannies. First off, a formal long oak dining table was acquired, providing one of two planned dining options. In between the table and the kitchen, Dael and Vic brought to life an otherwise dead space by creating an office area against a wall.


“The house had some awkward places, such as this one, that I struggled to visualise a purpose for,” Sarah says. “Bibby + Brady were able to come up with a great plan to maximise the use of these spaces.”

Dael and Vic had to be more creative than usual in the kitchen, as there wasn’t the budget for a new one. “The kitchen, dining and entrance required most thought,” Dael says. “We wanted to give Sarah a fresh kitchen without spending a lot of money.” The solution was to paint the cabinetry yellow and create a breakfast nook in a sunny corner by adding comfy window seats and a round wooden table.

“The table works beautifully as a place to relax over a cup of coffee in the sun,” Dael says. “It also serves as another place where the family can dine.”


For the walls in three-year-old daughter Stella’s bedroom, Sarah was inspired by the layers of old paint still visible in the wardrobe from the 1960s, choosing the sweet pastel shade of Resene ‘Apple Green’. In the master bedroom she again plumped for colour. “The living room walls are mainly white, so in the master bedroom I opted for a more beachy, aqua look with Resene ‘Reservoir’.”

The end result is a cheerful, refreshing interior that Sarah loves. It perfectly suits the laidback lifestyle she and Roger dreamed of when they hatched their plan to leave Auckland, and the decor will no doubt last them for years to come.

Words by: Catherine Steel. Photography by: Helen Bankers.

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