Inviting the Outdoors in with a Dramatic Transformation in Parau, Auckland

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Inspired by the nature that envelops their property, these homeowners wanted to transform their new home to complement the Waitakere landscape.

Before After
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Excited to Get Moving

Surrounded by lush native bush, this Parau bungalow caught the eyes of experienced renovators John and Louise who saw its great potential. After purchasing, they were enthusiastic about turning it into the beautiful home it deserved to be. But the layout was disconnected; the pre-1910 kitchen and dining were separated from the lounge by a wide hallway lined with bedrooms. What’s more, a downstairs kitchen and bathroom had been built without consent sometime in the 1970s, and were in a sorry state of neglect.
Despite the challenges, John and Louise were excited to get this project moving and got in touch with Refresh Renovations for help. Local Renovation Consultant Fiona Fairbairn was up for the challenge and came on board, eager to deliver fantastic results for the couple through a collaborative approach. 

Adjusting the Scope

John and Louise had set a $200,000 budget for what they anticipated would be a cosmetic renovation. However, when Fiona began taking an inventory of what needed to be done, it became evident that there was much more work ahead. 
John and Louise therefore decided to shift their priorities to defining the scope first, utilising the Refresh costing and concept phases. 
Warped load-bearing timber beams meant the structural integrity of the home was compromised and couldn’t be deemed code compliant; they needed to be replaced. Further repairs and upgrades were added to the list. The final cost grew to $300,000 but included a new roof, insulation, and heating system; fully compliant kitchen and bathroom renovations; plumbing, re-piping, and electrical rewiring throughout the entire house; and a structural layout change to accommodate open-plan living areas. 
Though this was more than John and Louise had initially intended to spend, Fiona worked closely with the couple to ensure every aspect was justified and contributed to accomplishing their goals. John and Louise appreciated Fiona’s significant effort and were once again excited to move forward; they signed off on the scope and cost, and construction was free to begin.  

Two-Part Timeline for Construction 

The project needed to be split into two portions. First, work that didn’t require consent was completed while the council worked through the applications. Once Fiona got the approvals, the rest of the work began. 
With all the functional and structural issues addressed, the team began reconstructing the home’s new layout. Relocating the master bedroom to where the previous lounge had been situated, created some privacy as it was now separated from the living areas. At the other end of the house, the crew converted one of the bedrooms into a new lounge area that connects to the kitchen and dining area and leads out to the spacious deck, with its stunning views. 
John and Louise were keen to highlight the beauty of the surrounding bush throughout their home. Installing a cathedral window above the stairwell and well-placed panoramic windows in the bedrooms and bathrooms invites the flora inside and gives visitors stunning natural vistas in every room. 
Just as Fiona was about to wrap up the loose ends, a COVID level stopped her in her tracks. But as soon as restrictions were lifted, the crew were back on site finishing up the project for John and Louise.

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Transformative Results

From the two-part renovation, a modern and stylish home emerged. Vibrant tile splashbacks give each bathroom its own flair; the main bathroom’s tiles are bright cherry red, and the ensuite, a vibrant marigold. An ensuite is attached to the guest bedroom at the end of the house which leads out onto the deck with spa pool, making it more of a guest suite. 
The kitchen is spacious and now has a sit-in dining area. Between the dining table and kitchen island, there’s seating for more than 10 guests - perfect for entertaining. Beadboard cabinetry, inspired by the home’s original tongue and groove doors, anchors the design in a farmhouse style with modern flair from the brass handles and fixtures and dark granite benchtop. In keeping with the nature theme, the splashback in the kitchen is a striking Lucy G portrait of a kererū.
Making the kitchen even more of an entertainer's dream, it’s directly connected to the spacious lounge which has a wood-burning stove and three large sets of doors, opening to the expansive deck that overlooks several bays of the Manukau Harbour.  

Final Thoughts

Fiona has cited her favourite aspects of the project as the view from the ensuite bath, and the indoor-outdoor living created in the lounge. While they’re thrilled with the entire home, John and Louise are especially partial to the splashback in the kitchen, the cathedral window, and the sun-soaked lounge. 
Changing the nature of this renovation from cosmetic to total rebuild during a global pandemic threw numerous, successive, curve balls that Fiona managed seamlessly. Much of the project’s success can be attributed to her commitment to maintaining an open and honest dialogue with John and Louise which resulted in a fantastic renovation, deep mutual respect, and lots of shared laughter. 
Materials and suppliers used for this project were door hardware and fittings by Mitre10; interior and exterior paint by Resene; bathroom fittings by Robertsons; light switches by Schneider Electric; tiles by Tile Depot; double-glazed windows by Vision Joinery.

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This project was completed in
June 2022
Project description
Whole house renovation
West Auckland
New Zealand
Project duration
Cost estimate
Actual cost
COVID restrictions
Interesting aspects
Bold use of colour and a unique splashback
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Fiona Fairbairn is Renovation Consultant of Premino Limited, a franchisee of Renovation Franchise Ltd, doing business in West Auckland.

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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