AT HOME WITH TONI
Toni took her time finding a dream home to invest in, sticking to a tight budget and a strict list of criteria to be ticked off. But when her real estate agent took her to visit a 50m2, twobedroom unit in Sandringham, she knew it was the one as soon as she walked in the door. On the top floor of a block of 1970s units, with lots of windows letting in light and giving a great view right through to the Sky Tower, it was private, spacious and filled with possibility.
Given the keys the day before she went north for Christmas, Toni returned in early January 2017 ready to roll. Rallying her parents and a bunch of friends for an intense working bee, they sanded, stripped, ripped up carpet, sprayed mould, painted, bogged up rotten bits and fixed up leaks.
She says she found renovating her own home quite different to working on client briefs, especially as she was working to a tight schedule. “I had two weeks to turn around the main decisions on curtains, flooring and paint colours. It wasn’t like a typical design project as I had to make snap decisions, so I based them on what I knew had worked on other projects.”
A favourite design feature is the polished concrete flooring. “On my first visit to the house, I pulled back the carpet and discovered rough concrete. I was so excited I quietly put the carpet back down and didn’t say a word – it was like finding gold. Having one •
finish throughout the living and dining area creates continuity, which I prefer to disjointed areas of carpet and vinyl or wood.”
The flooring was a job Toni left to the experts, along with the patio decking, which was undertaken by Liv’s builder husband, Dave. But she saved money on labour by doing most of the alterations herself, which balanced out the expense of some big-ticket updates: replacing the roof, insulating, and installing a new hot water cylinder and a heat pump.
“Although they’re not aesthetically beneficial changes, they make a major difference to my enjoyment of the home,” says Toni. “I saved money where I could – my mum and I sewed linen curtains for the entire house, and to save on replacing the kitchen, I used Resene Waterborne Smooth Surface Sealer to cover the dated Melteca cabinetry.”
As a housewarming gift, Liv’s brother Tim Harper and his wife Tali gave Toni a pot of Resene Blanched Pink paint, which she used to paint her front door, the final flourish on a home that’s now distinctly hers. “I don’t buy things that are on trend, and I know what I like,” she says of her style. “When I see something I love, I buy it and treasure it for a long time. I’d had some of my light fittings stored away for years while I was flatting, waiting for the day when I could use them in my own home.”
All that hard work was well worth it in the end. “I love getting home after a long day and seeing the last of the evening sun streaming into my lounge,” says Toni. “There’s nothing quite as satisfying as knowing this is mine and I did it myself.” •
TOP LEFT Toni at the pretty pink front door of her revamped home. The bronze Woodpecker door knocker is from Anthropologie – Toni had a friend bring it with her from the US when she came back to New Zealand for her annual summer holiday. ABOVE A table from Backhouse sits on the Vitex deck with secondhand chairs from Instagram store @thegoodswefound. LEFT This antique walnut side table is home to timber bowls made by Toni’s grandfather and a collection of pottery that includes pieces she made herself.
ABOVE & RIGHT The bamboo lattice pendant lights in the main bedroom (above) and guest room (right) are part of Ilse Crawford’s Sinnerlig range for Ikea. “Liv and I spotted them while on an inspiration trip to Melbourne the year before I bought my house, and I lugged them back as oversized luggage,” says Toni. She made the curtains in her room from Mokum’s Magnolia fabric and opted for Venetian blinds in the petite guest room as they fit cleanly within the window frame. TOP RIGHT The kitchen’s retro Tomado modular shelving system from Mr Bigglesworthy has visual appeal and creates extra storage space. A Tosca under-shelf tool hanger by Yamazaki from Father Rabbit is a nifty addition.