Potential in Papakowhai: Contemporary Design is at the Fore of This Family Home

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This 1970s Porirua home was given a contemporary makeover to reflect the new owner's style.

This 1970s Porirua home was given a contemporary makeover to reflect the new owner's style.

Before After
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Katie and Tom had purchased their Papakowhai house for its potential. A tired 1970s four-bedroom home, the property had great structural bones. Katie and Tom just needed to bring it into the 21st century.
It was a challenge they were up for, but they weren’t sure where to start, how much it would cost, or how long it would take. They knew they needed specialist support, so they sent an enquiry to local Renovation Partner, Steve Wang
“Katie and Tom had recently moved into their home and were keen to give it a bit of a refresh,” says Steve. “They wanted to renovate two bathrooms, the laundry and kitchen, create some open-plan living and potentially enhance the outdoor living space. They had some great ideas but were keen to have a consultation to discuss options and feasibility of the renovation.”

From Concept to Build

Katie and Tom had a budget of $150,000 and a vision to reconfigure the property, making it more functional to their needs. This ambition eventually translated into a final design to transform the house and convert the garage into a guest room/additional living space, complete with a laundry unit. 
With Steve’s guidance, the renovation team, led by Project Manager Rosie Reid, developed working drawings, costed the build, and secured resource and building consent (needed for foundation, walls, bracing, and waterproofing of garage conversion) before construction began.
“During the concept stage, Katie and Tom were happy with the plans and fully aware of the budget they needed to prepare,” explains Steve. That open communication continued through into the costing stage when Steve assisted Katie and Tom with their selections and provided a quote within their expectations. 
“Katie and Tom had good ideas of what they hoped to achieve from the project,” says Steve. “They’d made it clear the project was for themselves to enjoy for many years to come.” 
And so, work began on modernising this tired brick home to give it a new lease of life for a young family.

Good Things Take Time

Construction on Katie and Tom’s Papakowhai home was completed in two stages due to the exciting arrival of Katie and Tom’s baby. Although the actual build time was just six months, the project spread over two years. Both stages of the build coincided with the pre-Christmas rush, but Steve and the team were able to plan schedules in advance to give everyone notice.
Central to the project was the upgrade of the kitchen, laundry, and bathrooms. These were still in their original form and didn’t meet Katie and Tom’s needs. They also provided a slight challenge to the project team.
“There were some unexpected issues such as an old concrete bathtub hidden in the walls, undersized framing and ceiling joists,” says Steve. “But we were able to provide Katie and Tom with information and solutions promptly so as not to delay the project.”

The Contemporary Open-plan Design

The fresh look Katie and Tom wanted to achieve for their new family home certainly came through in the interior design. The former neutral palette has been replaced with a crisp contemporary colour scheme which brings various design features throughout the home to the fore.
The L-shaped kitchen design ensures Katie and Tom can enjoy uninterrupted views of Porirua Harbour from either workbench while still allowing connection to the open-plan living and dining room. Floating shelves double as both storage and display, achieving the perfect mix of function and design.
A striking built-in bookshelf at one end of the lounge doubles as a feature wall and makes an excellent backdrop for Katie and Tom’s furnishings. The collection of books, art, and ornaments creates a relaxed, comfortable feel combined with the room’s furniture and coffee tables.
Natural light is in abundance in this beautiful home. Elevated ceilings with slit windows add a light, airy feel, while large sliding doors and windows allow plentiful sunlight to filter in. And while all living areas share the open-plan layout, well-positioned furniture carves out a multitude of ‘rooms’ within the greater space.

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Bathrooms with Coastal Style

In one bathroom, another feature wall makes a splash. Though this time, it’s a rich blue wall that contrasts spectacularly with the warm tones from the floating wooden vanity, turning the previously run-down space into one of the home’s most stylish rooms. 
Meanwhile, the larger bathroom continues the blue motif through feature subway tiling across the bathtub. These deep oceanic hues have become the room’s focal point and are complemented perfectly by the timber flooring and fresh white walls.

Garage Conversion Leads the Way

While the main home itself is impressive, perhaps the pièce de résistance of this renovation is the converted garage. 
Contemporary cedar cladding on the former garage’s exterior makes an eye-catching feature. And inside, the simple interior design has allowed for a laundry unit, spacious cupboards, a bed, and an office space. Ultimately, this garage has transformed into a comfortable multi-purpose space that can be used as an additional bedroom, living area, office, or laundry room – whatever it needs to be.

The Results

No longer a product of the 1970s, Katie and Tom’s home is certainly representative of contemporary design. Materials used in this renovation include wall and ceiling lining from Gib, general building supplies from Mitre10, and paint from Resene.
Steve and Rosie committed to this extensive renovation and succeeded in accomplishing all of the couple’s goals to an outstanding standard, resulting in a stunning residence.
Through a well-thought-out design, Katie and Tom have certainly maximised the potential of their Papakowhai property and created a contemporary home for their family to grow into and enjoy for years to come.

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This project was completed in
September 2021
Project description
House renovation and garage conversion
New Zealand
Project duration
601 days
Cost estimate
Actual cost
Undersized framing and ceiling joists, and a hidden bathtub.
Interesting aspects
Open-plan kitchen with a spectacular tiled splashback.
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Steve Wang is Renovation Consultant of Passionmate Renovations Ltd, a franchisee of Renovation Franchise Ltd, doing business in Wellington.

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