ARTICLE Erin Reilly IMAGES Emma Smales

Renovating is often characterised by enthusiastic home owners transforming derelict houses into modern works of art. But one Auckland couple is taking the traditional act of renovating one step further, by doing up a brand-new house.

A real picture of case study

When Casarah Chapman and Jason Cooper sold up in Auckland and moved to the country community of Stillwater in April 2016, they wanted a quieter way of life with plenty of space to raise their small family. They couldn’t find what they wanted within their budget in Auckland, so they decided to settle for a family home that was slightly further afield.

Built brand-new after the people next door subdivided then sold, Casarah and Jason’s split-level home hugs a steep slope that overlooks a private grassy reserve. Three roomy bedrooms, a large family bathroom and a huge garage with internal access reside on the ground level. The entry hallway steps down into an expansive living, kitchen and dining area. The master bedroom is cleverly hidden behind the kitchen, along with a guest bathroom.

A picture of modern kitchen

Despite the home being new when they moved in, the young couple is passionate about infusing their own flair into the building. 

“A lot of people have asked us, ‘Why are you renovating a new house? It’s perfect the way it is’,” says Casarah. “We think It’s important to put your own touch on things. It doesn’t matter how new a house is, if it doesn’t have your flair and personality, it will only ever be a house, not a home. We think it’s a different way of looking at renovating.”

When the couple moved in, the interior was very dark, industrial and insular. Casarah and Jason have focused on lightening, brightening and opening each space up by repainting most rooms, replacing lighting and curtains, and using smart interior styling like the green wall in the dining area to infuse their own flair into their new home.

Much of the interior decorating is inspired by Casarah’s family who together run Hello Darling, an Auckland-based homewares store. “Having the space for kids is amazing,” Casarah says, as 13-month Talulah and dog Elmo romp around the living room. “We came from a tiny 1950s house where we were falling over each other constantly. This place gives us the space and the lifestyle we need to extend our family.”

Baby playing around with stroller
But renovating isn’t easy, even when you’ve got a good palate to start with.

“Sometimes it’s hard to make the right decisions,” says Casarah. “But that’s the beauty of having your own place and living in it. You can see what works and what doesn’t – and if you don’t like it, you can just change it.

“While Talulah sleeps, we sand and paint,” she continues. “It’s a real learning curve doing it ourselves, but it’s made me much more confident. Our long-term plan is to buy a piece of land and build. Renovating this place is helping us figure out what we like and don’t like, and what we’d do differently next time around.”

A bedroom of Casarah and Jason's daughter

The final project box to be ticked is a large wraparound deck that overlooks the reserve. “Now that we have this nice big house we entertain all the time,” says Casarah. “When we moved in there were already massive ranch-sliders, but nothing to open them onto. Once the deck has been built, our living and entertainment area will be complete – but at this point we’re tossing up whether to have a wedding or build a deck because they’ll cost the same!”

Ultimately their decision to move into the country came down to lifestyle.

A green outdoor place

“We love that Stillwater is still kind of undiscovered,” Casarah says. “A lot of originals still live here. The kids on the street play together. Neighbours pop over for cheese and milk. You don’t get that in the city.

“When we first moved in, we said we wouldn’t do anything for six months,” she laughs. “That didn’t happen! Renovating never ends. But I don’t think it needs to. We’re going to be living in this house for a long time so anything that bugs us now will bug us for as long as we live here.

“It’s important to us to keep making changes here and there until it’s perfect for our family – because it’s our home, no one else’s.”  

You might be interested in reading: A home renovation that was made for entertaining

Renovate Magazine Logo This article by Erin Reilly featured on page 057 in Issue 022 of Renovate Magazine. Renovate Magazine is an easy to use resource providing fresh inspiration and motivation at every turn of the page. This is not a Refresh Renovations case study.

Get in touch with Refresh to discuss your home renovation project

If you would like to discuss home renovation options for your next renovation project, please use the enquiry form on this page to provide us with your contact details. We will get in touch with you at a time that suits you to discuss your project. If you would like to provide us with more information about your project, we have a more comprehensive enquiry form on our "Get in touch" page too.

*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.

All Refresh Renovations franchises are independently owned and operated.

Get in touch

Get in touch if you are interested
in a quote or consultation

The Renovation & Outdoor Living Show
Renovate Handbook Download