Home Tours

Then & Now: An original state house kitchen

What to do when you have an original state-house kitchen with loads of cupboards? Make a feature of them with colour like Deb and Brian!



Who lives here?
Brian Hanson (chef) and Deb Hanson (accountant), baby Max and Ajmer the cat.

Where is it?
Kensington, Whangarei.

How long have you lived here for?
Two years.


DIY details

Deb, What was your ultimate goal with your kitchen makeover?
To have a more workable space, increase the bench space (now 600mm deep), get rid of the pink and get a dishwasher! We also wanted to retain the original character of the kitchen so it still complemented the rest of the house. We did not want a modern kitchen.


BEFORE SHOT: The kitchen was pink with worn Formic.


Describe the room before:
Pink! Original and dated with worn Formica and shallow (450mm) benchtops.

Describe the room now:
Perfectly suited to the house. A busy space with delicious creations. A fresh, happy place.


List everything you did:

  • Pulled cabinetry from wall and moved it forward 150mm to a regular bench depth.
  • Measured for stainless-steel benchtop (it was made in three pieces).
  • Pulled all cupboard doors off.
  • Installed dishwasher and cabinet.
  • Chose a stone-offcut benchtop for above dishwasher (shown far left in main photo).


  • Had copper and brass tap fabricated.
  • We had the old, tired, breezy louvre glass removed from the middle window.
  • Painted cupboard doors – there were 28 of them! – in the garage, all numbered to ensure the right door with the right colour according to our plan.
  • Chose new hinges and drawer handles (old cupboard handles reused).
  • Had electrician install task lighting above the benchtop.


Best moment?
Having the copper tap fabricated exactly how we imagined it.

Best lesson learned?
Renovations take ages, so you need to be patient. A kitchen reno is hard to live with when you have a small inquisitive child, so use baby gates.



How would you describe your decorating style?
Secondhand, vintage, well-travelled, a little bit eclectic.

What are your styling tips?
Plenty of magazine reading and getting inspiration from trawling the internet. I’m a fan of moving things around until you feel happy with the proportions.



What were your best buys?
Getting painters in. Changing to cooking with a gas stovetop.

Any investment purchases?
Chrome hinges were our only real splash-out, mainly because of the number of cupboards.

How much was your budget?
There was no initial budget. We just decided to keep things as cost-effective as possible and reuse things as much as we could.

Words by: Johanna Thornton. Photography by: Renee Lansdowne.

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