Then & now This family home gets a mid-cen­tury makeover

Ren­o­vat­ing a cen­tral Auck­land cot­tage and trans­form­ing its con­crete back­yard into a mid-cen­tury oa­sis proved to be a six-year labour of love for one family

Your Home and Garden - - Contents - Text com­piled by Fiona Ralph. Pho­tog­ra­phy by Wendy Fen­wick.


Who lives here? An­dre Van Won­deren, 34 (project man­ager), Jo­lene Van Won­deren, 35 (part-time teacher aide and graphic de­signer), Willem, 7, and Emily, 5, plus Poppy the cat.

Where is the home? Cen­tral Auck­land.


When did you start the ren­o­va­tion? Jo­lene: We bought the house in 2010 and started ren­o­vat­ing about a year af­ter we moved in. What did you change? We cre­ated a new kitchen and din­ing area in what was an en­closed sun­room and added a new con­crete floor, in­su­la­tion, lin­ing and doors. A tem­po­rary wall en­abled us to work in this area while the rest of the house re­mained rel­a­tively un­af­fected.

We re­con­fig­ured the kitchen and laun­dry into a third bed­room, laun­dry, linen cup­board and of­fice nook. We also in­stalled un­der­floor and ceil­ing in­su­la­tion and had our in­ter­nal trim and doors painted white (they were var­nished tim­ber). This bright­ened the in­te­rior con­sid­er­ably. In the mas­ter bed­room we de­mol­ished a too-small wardrobe, stripped painted-over wall­pa­per and re­plas­tered walls.

In the liv­ing room we re­placed the orig­i­nal fire­place with a fire­place in­sert and put in a heat trans­fer sys­tem, which we love. The lounge and front bed­room were stripped of wall­pa­per, then skim-coated and painted. Lastly (six years af­ter we started ren­o­vat­ing) the bath­room was com­pleted – one cor­ner at a time, so we didn’t have to move out.

What aspects of the house did you re­tain?

We kept the house largely as it was in terms of char­ac­ter fit­tings. The only element we changed on the ex­te­rior was re­plac­ing a ranch­slider with French doors. We kept all the orig­i­nal tim­ber frame win­dows. We didn’t have to up­grade any of the plumb­ing, elec­tri­cals or wall lin­ings. The roof has had some water­proof­ing work but didn’t need re­plac­ing. What’s your favourite fea­ture of the new space?

I love the kids’ room – it has seen lots of dif­fer­ent con­fig­u­ra­tions as the kids have grown up, from cots to tod­dler beds to the cur­rent loft bed set-up. Through all these con­fig­u­ra­tions it has al­ways felt cosy and homely.


Tell us about the ex­te­rior work you com­pleted. Strangely, the back­yard is paved in con­crete. The pre­vi­ous own­ers had put ‘ready lawn’ over it so we dug this up and re­moved raised gar­den beds. We laid a hon­ey­comb grid mat and filled it with stones to cover the con­crete. We also re­moved the old deck and built a new one with a brick stair rail and mid-cen­tury-style screen.

Get­ting the ex­te­rior painted was a huge step – it was an aw­ful apricot colour! This was one of the few things we paid some­one to do as it would have taken months to do our­selves. We also built and in­stalled a new full-height front fence and gate which is great for pri­vacy and se­cu­rity. We re­moved a turn­ing bay on the drive­way to in­crease the lawn area, and cre­ated a new front pa­tio.


What was your budget? We didn’t set a budget, we just cre­ated what we wanted as cost-ef­fec­tively as we could. We don’t feel we over­spent for what we achieved.

What did you save on? Builder’s labour (the reno was mostly DIY with the help of a family builder). We got a trade dis­count on the kitchen from Bun­nings, bought sec­ond­hand fur­nish­ings and up­cy­cled or made things when we couldn’t find what we wanted.

What did you splurge on? The brick wall in the back­yard. We went to ex­tremes to cre­ate rather than pur­chase what we wanted. •

BED­ROOMS, BATH­ROOM Most of the Van Won­derens’ fur­ni­ture was pur­chased sec­ond­hand or passed down from family, says Jo­lene. “Our phi­los­o­phy is to just buy (or up­cy­cle or find sec­ond­hand) what we like and some­how it all comes to­gether.”



KITCHEN, LIV­ING Jo­lene, An­dre Willem and Emily can fi­nally en­joy some down­time in their ren­o­vated house. The home’s sun­room was trans­formed into a stylish kitchen and din­ing area.

FACT FILE Walls painted in Re­sene ‘Half Rice Cake’. LIV­ING Sofa from Trade Me, re­uphol­stered. Cof­fee ta­ble from Trade Me. Rug from Rug Di­rect. Maps from Hema Maps. DIN­ING Ta­ble from of­fice clear­ance shop. Chairs from Ez­iBuy. Small stools from Mocka....


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