Home Tours

Then & now: An inspiring Dunedin home renovation

A tired old house has been transported into the 21st century by opening up the living area and giving the interior a clean monochromatic sweep


At a glance

Who lives here? Victoria Bithell (owner of makeandco.co.nz and assistant at MintSix), Stephen Bithell (builder) and Harrison, 2 months.
Where is it? Kaikorai, Dunedin.
What did your home look like before? It had old carpet and all the rooms were closed off from each other.
What was your vision? To create an open-plan living/dining/kitchen area by knocking down the living-room wall and turning the second bedroom into a kitchen. The old kitchen would then become an office/third bedroom. We also rebuilt the wardrobe in the master to create a walk-in wardrobe.

DIY details

Victoria, describe your home then and now…
It was tired, unloved and pretty run-down. Now, it’s fresh, bright and full of personality.

What was your ultimate goal?
To create a modern, welcoming, open-plan home that we’d be proud to entertain in. The house had been renovated a few times in the 1950s and 1970s, so what character it once had, didn’t really exist any more. Because of this, we didn’t feel bad about not trying to restore the home’s original character. Instead, we took the opportunity to go for a contemporary look.

Best makeover moment?

Discovering all the original villa doors beneath the ugly fake veneer panels

Discovering all the original villa doors beneath the ugly fake veneer panels

How long did you live in it before you started renovating?
Steve started ripping up the old carpet and knocking down the living-room wall the same week we got the keys. We stayed with my parents until the master bedroom was ready, then we moved in.

How long did the reno take?
The whole house took us just over a year, and the kitchen about two months.


Worst makeover moment?
Deciding to renovate while pregnant and just before a Dunedin winter hit!

Best lesson learned?
Take time to plan all the details. There’s nothing more satisfying than when you finish a room and, months later, notice the tiny details that at the time were so gruelling, but so worth it in the end.

Tell us what you did…

  • Knocked down the living-room wall to create an open-plan living area
  • Turned a bedroom into the kitchen
  • Turned the old kitchen into an office/third bedroom
  • Re-built the wardrobe in the master bedroom to create a walk-in one.

(With baby Harrison’s arrival, the family have recently moved to a bigger home.)

Words by: Catherine Steel. Photography by: Emily Hlavac Green.

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