A Delightful Restoration of Hospital Hill Character Cottage

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Built in the 1880s, this cottage was well maintained but needed updating. It was imperative to preserve its original charm during the renovation.

Before After
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Sharing a Rich History

Homeowner Jenny’s Napier cottage was built in 1886, details she knows because of newspaper discovered within the wall linings by a former owner. Protective of the rich history of her cottage, and respectful of the previous owner’s dedication to the property’s upkeep, Jenny wanted to ensure any future renovation maintained the delicate balance between modernising the cottage and preserving its antique charm.

When she reached out to Refresh Renovations, Jenny already had the re-piling, electrical, and plumbing work completed. What remained was an update to the home’s design; she wanted to rearrange the back half of the cottage to achieve a modern layout and to accommodate flow between the outdoor living area and the kitchen. 

Renovation Consultants Sophia Roydhouse and Mike Ross are Napier locals and appreciate the history the region has to offer. They were the perfect pair to take on Jenny’s cottage upgrade. 

Finalising the Plans

Sophia and Mike brought in an architect along with kitchen and bathroom consultants, all of whom worked closely with Jenny to ensure the plans aligned with her vision. This process required a lot of careful consideration and Jenny appreciated the team’s attention to detail. 

The original concept design came in at over $200,000, more than Jenny felt comfortable spending. The proposed front and back decks were removed, as was an outdoor roof in the back garden and tiling work in the bathroom. These adjustments brought the final cost to $180,000, which Jenny was happy with, admitting that she “procrastinated a lot before finally committing but I’m so pleased I went for it!”

A Happily Uneventful Construction Phase

Once COVID restrictions lifted, the project progressed quickly. Sophia and Mike, who were on-site daily, were surprised at how smoothly the renovation proceeded, given the date of the original build.

The new layout relocated the kitchen to the back of the cottage. Some rearranging was necessary to accommodate the change; the laundry was moved to the garage and the bathroom to the side of the house. Putting up walls for the bathroom created a new hallway connecting the lounge and kitchen, and housing a spacious storage closet. Finally, by taking some space from the dining area the crew was able to enlarge the master bedroom. 

The construction wrapped up in eight weeks and a delighted Jenny returned to her home after house-sitting nearby. “The team of tradespeople that Refresh chose to work with were all great. Not only was my renovation experience excellent, the outcome exceeded my expectation.”

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Past Made Present

Improving the indoor/outdoor flow was an integral part of Jenny’s decision to renovate. Double glazed French doors replaced the old single door in the kitchen, making the space bright and leading directly to the outdoor living area. The crew also installed a new bi-fold window along the back wall facing the garden to make the space feel even more open.  

The kitchen showcases a harmonious blend of old with new. The modern bamboo benchtops complement the original native timber found throughout the century-old cottage; the shaker cabinets are traditional but their brushed silver fixtures and handless doors add a modern finish. And the flooring Jenny chose - oak laminate - mimics the look of restored timber flooring with an antique whitewash. 

The same flooring carries into the bathroom design. During the concepting phase, the bathroom consultant helped Jenny choose fixtures and finishings in keeping with the cottage’s provenance - antique cross faucet handles for the sink and a porcelain lever and handle in the shower. Though the fixtures are vintage in style, their chrome finish ties them into the modern side of the design. 

Final Thoughts

Jenny’s cottage feels more spacious and open despite the renovation being entirely with its existing footprint. Opening the kitchen to the outdoor living area is a contributing factor. Sophia and Mike provided Jenny with a transformative renovation and she is the first to acknowledge the role they played in the success of the project: “I know I could not have taken on such a big renovation without their expertise and professionalism, for which I remain very grateful.”

The pair even arranged to have a serving tray, chopping board, and utensils crafted for Jenny out of an old rimu bookcase salvaged from the lounge. She’s thrilled with the gift and even more so with her home, leaving Sophia and Mike with warm parting words:

“I can hardly believe it’s mine. Thank you SO much. I can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying living in the new spaces. And my tray and cheese board have been very well used over the holiday season as I have had many friends over to show off the renovation! Many enjoyable hours in my new kitchen and outdoor lounge. I absolutely love my beautiful home!”

Would you like to discuss your home renovation ideas?

Get in touch for a free consultation with your local Renovation Consultant.

This project was completed in
March 2022
Project description
A delicate balance between modernising this cottage and preserving its antique charm was key to this renovation’s success.
Hawkes Bay
New Zealand
Project duration
8 weeks
Cost estimate
Actual cost
Staying true to the character of the home
Interesting aspects
Bamboo benchtops and oak look flooring
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Sophia Roydhouse-Ross is Renovation Consultant of RNR Renovations Ltd, a franchisee of Renovation Franchise Ltd, doing business in Hawkes Bay.

Mike Ross is Renovation Consultant of RNR Renovations Ltd, a franchisee of Renovation Franchise Ltd, doing business in Hawkes Bay.

Actual costs vary by project. Plan ahead to reduce the impact of industry changes or disruptions. For more information see here.

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