Home mak­ers A clever cou­ple re­store and re­work their Nel­son cot­tage

Sun and space for fam­ily fun were top pri­or­i­ties for this cre­ative cou­ple, who al­most sin­gle-hand­edly over­hauled their small Nel­son home

Your Home and Garden - - Contents - Text by Fiona Ralph. Pho­tog­ra­phy by Daniel Allen.



| It was DIY all the way when cre­ative cou­ple Poppy MacPhe­dran and Sam Wil­liams ren­o­vated their small Nel­son home. Sam is a builder, and Poppy a hair and makeup artist with a back­ground in de­sign. Both grew up sur­rounded by de­sign­ers, mak­ers and builders. “I lived in a fam­ily of con­stant DIYers – they’re the kind of peo­ple who never have a fin­ished house,” says Poppy. The cosy home they have cre­ated in Nel­son’s Wash­ing­ton Val­ley has a small en­vi­ron­men­tal foot­print and the cou­ple took on nearly all the ren­o­va­tion work them­selves, from de­sign and de­mo­li­tion to in­su­la­tion, con­struc­tion, paint­ing and dec­o­rat­ing.




Poppy and Sam bought their “ram­shackle” 1950s rimu house sight un­seen on the day they moved from Welling­ton to Nel­son. “We just knew that it would be sunny, it had a big yard, and that it would be made out of rimu be­cause it was a 1950s house, so we were like, ‘Oh well, we can’t re­ally go wrong,’” Poppy ex­plains. “We to­tally loved the view, and we knew we’d be get­ting all-day sun, plus it had a nice big sec­tion for the kids to run around in. The two main things on our list were sun and some­where that we could make flat for the kids so they’d have a big enough area to play out­side.”

Al­though the site and struc­ture ticked their boxes, the decor left a lot to be de­sired. “It was yel­low and pur­ple,” laughs Poppy. “It was hideous.” She didn’t like yel­low back then, she ex­plains, but some­how ended up adding a bright yel­low front door and yel­low bar stools. “I ab­so­lutely love that we have bright yel­low in our lives now!” 3


| The cou­ple wanted to live in the home be­fore de­cid­ing on their ren­o­va­tion pri­or­i­ties. “That was some re­ally good ad­vice we were given,” Poppy says. “Ev­ery­one said, ‘Live in it and see what you think you’ll get most use from first.’ We didn’t start ren­o­vat­ing un­til about a year and a half af­ter we moved in.”

They saved up for each stage of the ren­o­va­tion, keep­ing costs low by do­ing most of the work them­selves with the help of some gen­er­ous friends and fam­ily. The key stages were the deck and land­scap­ing, fol­lowed by the bath­room and then the kitchen. The cou­ple tack­led each of these over four years (with a year’s break to take a well-earned hol­i­day).



| The home’s small, dated pa­tio re­quired a re­think to of­fer more out­door liv­ing space and cap­i­talise on views over the city. Poppy and Sam de­signed and built a new deck to­gether, as well as “call­ing in a lot of love” from help­ful friends. At the same time they land­scaped the back­yard to make it more child-friendly, us­ing pieces of the orig­i­nal pa­tio as a bar­rier be­tween the gar­den and drive­way. The fam­ily spend a lot of time out­doors and the bar­be­cue gets plenty of use year round. The deck adds es­sen­tial liv­ing space to the home. “It’s nice to have that ex­ten­sion of your house,” Poppy says.

The cou­ple opted to con­struct their deck with un­treated eu­ca­lyp­tus, de­spite the fact that peo­ple tried to talk them out of it. “We didn’t want the wood to be treated when we had lit­tle kids crawl­ing around on it,” says Poppy. Eu­ca­lyp­tus has the same guar­an­tee as treated pine, so it was a no-brainer. For the same rea­sons they used wool in­su­la­tion and Eco-House floor oil for their floor­boards (which Sam hand-sanded) and kitchen is­land bench­top, which was made from Ore­gon tim­ber (Dou­glas fir) found in the garage when the house was pur­chased. Re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als and fur­ni­ture fea­ture through­out the home – there are chairs from the reuse shop at the dump, re­cy­cled win­dows found at a demo yard, and an out­door ta­ble made by Sam from sal­vaged cedar. “Most of our stuff is from Trade Me or the op-shop,” Poppy says. “That’s our style.”




“Even though it’s not brand-new any more, I still love cook­ing in the kitchen,” Poppy says. For two years, while the cou­ple saved for the ren­o­va­tion, their stove had just one work­ing el­e­ment. The new kitchen is Poppy’s favourite part of the house – de­sign­ing it was a high­light. She planned the lay­out down to the ex­act mea­sure­ments, then en­listed her friend Jude, of Jude Raf­fills De­sign, to build it.

Al­though the ren­o­va­tion took up all their week­ends, Poppy be­lieves that hav­ing young chil­dren at this time worked well as they were spend­ing a lot of time at home al­ready. The fam­ily stayed with friends and rel­a­tives while ren­o­vat­ing the kitchen and bath­room, which made life more man­age­able. Nel­son has turned out to be a won­der­ful lo­ca­tion for them. Sam grew up in the city so they have lots of fam­ily there. “It’s the most fam­i­lyfriendly place to live,” says Poppy. “It’s so easy, ev­ery­thing’s re­ally close, all the schools are fan­tas­tic, the weather’s amaz­ing – it’s a re­ally good place to have a fam­ily.”



| Crafty de­tails are scat­tered through­out the home, from wall-mounted box shelves in Jett’s room to a unique en­trance­way dis­play built by Sam to house some of Poppy’s trea­sures. The front door was in­spired by a pic­ture Poppy found in a mag­a­zine – the han­dles were made by Sam.

Nova’s small room re­quired some cre­ative think­ing.

“We needed to build some­thing that worked as an open wardrobe,” Poppy says. They ended up cre­at­ing a built-in ply­wood wardrobe with in­ter­change­able open cub­bies which can switch from dis­play shelves to cush­ioned read­ing nooks. “It’s re­ally cute and func­tional.”

Art is an im­por­tant fea­ture in the house, with works by lo­cal artists in most rooms. “I would rather hunt for a bar­gain on house­hold ne­ces­si­ties so I can splurge on art,” says Poppy. “I also adore my in­door plants like they’re my pets. You can feel the clean­li­ness of the air in a house that has plants.” 7


| The fi­nal project to tackle this sum­mer is the land­scap­ing at the front of the house. This was ini­tially first on the list, but the cou­ple couldn’t de­cide what to do. As for the fin­ished house, Poppy says, “We ab­so­lutely love it and love our lo­ca­tion. Even though the house is lit­tle, it’s quite nice when you’ve got lit­tle kids be­cause they’re al­ways close to you, so it makes it easy. It’s def­i­nitely be­com­ing smaller now that our kids are get­ting big­ger, but we still have the po­ten­tial to ren­o­vate down­stairs.” They have a large open garage un­der the house, which could add an­other 60 square me­tres to the 98-square-me­tre home.

As much as they love their house, Poppy and Sam don’t imag­ine they’ll stay for ever. One day they’d like to build their own place. “I’m sure we’ll be those peo­ple that go on to the next project once they fin­ish ren­o­vat­ing,” Poppy says. “I can’t imag­ine us hav­ing a house where we didn’t have some­thing to do.” •

Jett chose the colour of his bed­room when he was just two. The box shelves are home­made and can be moved around to change the mood of the room.

DULUX ‘Gonville’

The deck Poppy and Sam built looks over the large back­yard, which was lev­elled to cre­ate a space where Jett and Nova can play.

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