Home Tours

A Tauranga do-up gets a major makeover perfect for modern family life

It wasn’t love at first sight when this family first moved into this suburban do-up! But now they say they’ll never leave

Meet and greet

Kathrine McDonald, interior designer, Bain McDonald, property consultant, Ella, 11, and George, 9, plus Lucca the dog (being dog-sat by the family)


  • Limited backyard living and no flat area for outdoor furniture.
  • No second living area.


  • A retaining wall and deck helped to provide flat entertaining areas at the back of the house.
  • The laundry was moved up to the living level and the office shifted downstairs. The space once occupied by the office and a relocated powder room became a second lounge for the kids.


With the benefit of hindsight, it’s easy for Kathrine McDonald to laugh. But at the time, it didn’t seem funny that her husband, Bain, had convinced her – his pregnant wife – to leave their beloved modern beachfront home and shift into the rundown house he had bought as an office space. “I remember standing in the pantry crying because of what I’d left behind,” she says.

Thankfully, the misery was short-lived. Kathrine quickly came to appreciate the elevated ocean views and protection from chilly winds that the move had afforded them. She realised her husband was right: the home’s layout was better suited to family living, with more outdoor space for kids, and was closer to the local school, movie theatre, great shops and cafes. And now that she’s able to reflect on the decision, she says they made the right call.

“People have romantic ideas about living by the ocean but our old beachfront deck was freezing when the sea breeze hit and it was shaded in the afternoon.”

What was supposed to be a short-term stay – the couple planned to move back into their seaside house after giving it an upgrade – started to look permanent. “We had to make a choice about which property we were going to renovate,” says Kathrine. “We never got back to the beach.”

Will they move again? “This is going to be our forever house,” she says with certainty. “I’d have to drag Bain out of here with a crowbar.”

Words by: Sue Hoffart. Photography by: Rachel Dobbs.

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