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How a Waikato cottage went from DIY disaster to the ultimate dream home

With its muted palette, textural accents and desert-chic style, this Waikato home is what Pinterest dreams are made of. We discover the special DIY journey

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How a Waikato cottage went from DIY disaster to the ultimate dream home

When the Keirs bought their house it was in a sorry state with peeling floral wallpaper, tatty green carpet and an outhouse with a shower and loo which hadn’t been used in what looked like decades. The main bathroom had once been a bedroom and the original bathroom had been repurposed as a storeroom off the kitchen.

Despite their new home’s modest size, it was all the couple needed at the time, plus they could see it had the potential to become a wonderful family home.

Wendy’s design tips

  • Keep it minimal and make sure everything in your home has a design purpose.
  • If you’re going for an all-white look, add some colour with your furnishings and decor.
  • Mixing old with new makes a home feel both welcoming and stylish.


Where have you saved money?
Wendy: Alex taking on the build himself meant we saved a lot on the building cost. Because we took our time with the build, this meant Alex would be building all day and then on the computer all night finding the best deals.

I honestly think he searched every website in the world for the best quality products for the best price; I think we saved a lot by not going with the first option. Alex loves creating and we upcycled a bit. The coffee table is made from his grandfather’s scaffolding planks, which he used to build his home 30 years ago.

Any splurges?
The Citta lowboy in the master was a piece we fell in love with and we thought it would work well in any room. The raw leather couches were a biggie but we wanted something that would last and just get better and better with age.

What was your best buy?
The antique printer’s chest; this really is an incredible piece of history and they are so hard to find.

DIY disasters?
Not a DIY disaster as such but our missing Border Collie, Winston, really did bring everything to a grinding halt for a while. We’re still searching and hoping. Please visit: Bring Winston Home

Best memory in your home?
Bringing our girl, Indigo, home to the house that her dad built. Even though we do have to leave this house we will always have the memories of Indie’s first year here.

What would you never do again?
Alex would probably say: build a house on his own. In saying that, he learnt more in those two years than in all his time as an apprentice builder.

Best lesson learned?
Things take a lot longer than you think! If you give yourself a time frame, expect it to be broken. You can’t rush a build if you want a perfect result.

Words by: Annick Larkin. Photography by: Helen Bankers and Vanessa Lewis.

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