I grew up in a beautiful huge old villa in Napier, HB. Dad renovated it top to bottom and mum’s garden was stunning. It had a million dollar view, and was surrounded by incredible old homes. But the really cool thing? It was one of those rare homes that just had a special feeling. It wasn’t filled with high-end furniture, antiques and priceless art, but it was loved – and you could absolutely feel it the moment you walked in the door. I feel so privileged to have grown up in it. As kids, we had a billiard sized playroom that we had free reign over. It. Was. Amazing.

My own kids may not have the magnificent house – but I can definitely replicate that sense of belonging, of fun, of love. That’s what this blog is all about. For me, home is about joy. When I walk in the door I want that “yay” feeling. I want my friends to love being there, and my family to feel supported by it. For us, it’s a process. It takes time. Life is busy and people will always take priority over things in this home. I’ll always prioritise “family spend” over “house-spend”, so this is going to take a while: but you’re welcome to join us on the journey of making this home something really special.


Our house is the exact opposite of my childhood home. It’s literally off the production line, as in built in a factory and trucked to site. It’s fairly new, has aluminium windows everywhere, and is exactly like all the others in our subdivision. We got a choice of 3 colour palettes, 3 exterior cladding options, 2 flooring options and 4 kitchens. It even came with the letterbox, the washing line and the garden shed. Totally mainstream. But with 1 kid at the time and plans for more: it was the uber sensible option for us. After freezing in various Wellington houses with stylish “original wooden floorboards” but terrible heating, this house would have had us at the sales spiel of “eco rated with double glazing, full insulation and heat pump hot water system”, but it was even better. With one major renovation behind us, the low maintenance aspect hugely appealed. Added to that was all day sun, incredible views and a flat drive on section within a 15 minute drive to the CBD. Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick. But the real winner? Just like my childhood home, it was on a quiet and private road that the kids could ride their bikes on. We’d know our neighbours! We wouldn’t need a resident’s parking permit! We wouldn’t hear ambulances roaring by or drunkard students (because I was NEVER like that, hmmm) singing on the street at 2am. And that was it. We moved from Wellington’s busiest street within walking distance to fantastic cafes and Moore Wilson’s to gasp…the Hutt. We had relocated to the ‘burbs and our friends could barely hide their shock and shame. They’ve come to terms with it now. They kinda like it here. Three families even followed us, and I’m still on the recruitment drive. Aside from all the sensible considerations, 4 years down the track it’s the “money can’t buy” stuff. Without being too cheeseburger about it, it’s the little knocks on the door asking to come and play, it’s the regular wines with neighbours that you actually know, it’s the annual Christmas street party. We love it here. On with the tour, just click through the slideshows below.


This has come a long way. It’s a narrow space and the developers thought it would be a clever design statement to have a linen cupboard as the feature staring smack bang at you when you walk in the door. It wasn’t exactly the “welcome home” look I was after. With zero character, it was a bit of a challenge. For years and years, this was a purely functional zone. Stuff got dumped there. We came in and out of the house through there. That was it. It’s now a little zone of beauty (in my book anyway). I was going for drama and warmth. I think I got it.

  • Walls: Dulux Keneperu. It was a risk. Small hallway, not a load of natural light, but I wanted drama and I got it. My sister pointed out it’s almost an exact match to the trim on our childhood villa. Weird the way my subconscious colour brain works. Cost $130 in paint but big impact and there was enough left over to do the dining room table’s legs. Win! See progress shots here
  • Painting & Frame: Rosie Ralph Artist. Commissioned this painting of our recently dearly departed Maximus (Max). Rosie may be my sister, but I’m a shameless promoter of her work because she’s awesome. She even sized it to sit just outside the table for balance. Service!
  • Retro Mirrors: Trade Me. Have been collecting these for a while now, stopped when they became cool and the prices rocketed, but estimate about $130 all up. Love ‘em. Fave is the small octagonal one. A clever designer friend suggested I move the retro mirrors from their previous location in the lounge to just next to the cupboard door to distract attention away from it. It so worked.
  • Table: Trade Me – secondhand. In a perfect world, this would be a black steel cubist console with a marble top. So obviously, I purchased a pine farmhouse hall table. It came complete with a fugly orange varnish and faux dings. DIY’d the fugly varnish right off. Read about it here.
  • Rug: Trade Me – Rug Village. It was advertised as yellow and when it arrived my gut reaction was: “urghmygawd…it’s snot-green” and I was gutted. It was however very plush and lovely to walk on. It’s literally welcoming. Rug Village were very helpful Re. the colour mix-up and offered to replace it, but I gave it a weekend and I’m so glad I did. Now I love it against those walls and it really works well with the coral pink in the painting too, plus I love the pattern. This was a great lesson for me in embracing colour and not always going for the same thing. It’s a happy accident. Now I can’t imagine the hallway without it.
  • Table-top styling: “gold” Vase: Typo ($12) Dog: Nood ($8), Vintage brass flip-up turtle: Trade Me ($10) Lamp: Ikea ($75). I dragged that thing all the way back from Melbourne back in the days before It’s had 2 shades since then but I consider it pretty timeless and there’s something about a lamp in the hallway. Homely and welcoming.
  • Linen cupboard door handle: With all that beauty going on, the handle was killing me. So trivial, but it was in such a highly visible area it bugged the crap out of me every time I walked passed it. I know there’s probably a décor rule somewhere that all your handles must match, but I’m a rebel like that. I love the new (old) handle. It makes it look like there’s something really special in there. There’s not. Unless you count towels that looked amazing 7 years ago and now just look sad. Handle $9 from Trade Me. 2nd to the painting, my other favourite element in this hallway, the key tassle from Bibby + Brady ($21) just had to be paired with that beaut handle.
  • Coat hooks: DIY alert! Super proud of this one. Inspired by some on Etsy, but they were rather expensey so consulted my clever dad, and he figured out a way to do it. Kind of. We angled the cut too deep to cater to a double-ended screen (whoops) so we cheated and glued them on with some pretty awesome adhesive. Love the way the stand out on the deep walls. Very marine.
  • Home sweet home string letters: Nice craft idea, tedious execution. If you still really (and I mean really) want to do it, instructions are here.

Should possibly have called this blog the house that Trade Me decorated.


This is the most unfinished space.  Weird right? Most people would sort those first. To give us credit, the lounge, kitchen and dining area is one open plan space, so it’s a biggie ($$$) to complete totally. The best bit about this space is it’s incredible views and the sun pouring in. Very easy to get distracted by say, falling asleep on the couch. I have started though. Here’s some of the finished stuff:

TO DO LIST: It’s a biggie!

  • Linen-look curtains for all those windows. We don’t really need curtains for warmth with the double glazing as we already have roller blinds, but I love the ritual of drawing curtains on a freezing night. There are a lot of windows though. ($$$)
  • Wooden plank wall (wall that joins the playroom). So inspired by this DIY and amped to tick this one off the list.
  • DIY mirror for wooden plank wall
  • Refurb’d Trade Me buffet for my extensive magazine collection. This will go in front of the wooden plank wall. I’ll know the buffet when I see it, but it won’t be precious as it’s going in a sun-drenched spot and will  be painted white which will look pretty awesome against that plank wall. Once the plank wall is done…
  • New multi-bulb light fitting over dining table. Ideally, it would be a stunning brass Jonathon Adler number. Real world? Will keep you posted.
  • New dining chairs – one day I’d love the dining area to be a raw wood table with white moulded chairs and an oversized indoor/outdoor patio rug in blue tones. One that can have food spilt on it and literally hosed off if need be. They have these things in America you know…
  • Plant in dining area corner
  • Redo the bar stools – caramel coloured vinyl (wipe clean for kids) which actually looks like a fine grain leather.
  • Marble penny tile (or mirror, or marble herringbone) the kitchen backsplash
  • New rug in lounge. Preferably one that doesn’t unravel and trip us up. I’d like it to be plush too, we have hard-wood floors in our lounge, a cosy rug is a total necessity (for now, husband disagrees).
  • One more framed picture in dining room.



I wanted our bedroom to have that luxe hotel room feel: somewhere to rest my tired head with a bit of glamour. Went for a bit of a statement wall, then painted the remaining walls and the ceiling the same grey. Paired that with some vintage furniture and a fledging art collection.

On the scale of matrimonial harmony, the painted striped walls neared epic divorce proportions. Read about it here.

Completing the look are cheerful linen-look curtains, and various Trade Me furniture finds. Ideally, it’d be all G-Plan but reality is a mix of styles. Currently we have just one (but I love him). The other set of drawers got glammed up with a bevelled edge mirror which I got cut to fit and glued it on top.  The opposite wall to the feature wall is a skinny strip of wall (between the entrance to wall and entrance to ensuite). I’m building that as an art wall – a mix of prints and wall sculptures.

  • Painted Stripes: DIY
  • Paint: Karen Walker Foggy Grey
  • Curtains: Ikea
  • Headboard: DIY
  • Both sets of drawers: Trade Me
  • Bevelled edge Mirror for top of drawers: Wellington Glass $50. Expensey but so worth it.
  • Mirror above drawers with lamps on it: Trade Me (spotting a trend?)
  • Pair of lamps: Briscoes, brand = Salt & Pepper $50 each 8 years ago.
  • Linen: Logan & Mason chunky waffle King duvet (incl 2 pillowslips) and 2 x Logan & Mason Euros. All from Spotlight on a massive sale. $130 total.
  • Drawer top styling: crystal dish: Trade Me – $12, Persepex frames: Country Road, crystal dish – small second-hand shop in Westshore Napier- $5 about 10 years ago, with a clear beaded necklace in it. Heart frame from a friend for our wedding
  • Art wall: Love print, Jen Ramos – Made by Girl, Wedding anniversary print – Mod Memento on Etsy, gold paintings by me. All frames sourced on Trade Me.


  • Block-out curtains (Yeah. Sensible people would have done that first)
  • Plush rug (some people don’t love the double-rug thing, I’m sold)
  • Slowly upgrading bedroom furniture, ideally to all light oak originals
  • Completing the art wall (anyone know a great and affordable framer?)
  • Bookshelves?



Honestly, this is such a tiny room, but it’s actual very cleverly planned. We’ve done the bare minimum in here. Repeated the stripes from master feature wall but in the grey of the bedroom colour.

  • Replace light fitting (totally functional but not my cuppa, just came with the house). Actually just saw a similar one in a catalogue for $10. That damn thing is so reliable. I’m sure we’ve only replaced the bulbs once in 4 years.
  • Better mirror
  • More wall-hung storage
  • New towels!


This room has been a full nursery, a shared room complete with bunks and is now home to one very spoilt boy. Yes, it is a queen sized bed. It works for us, and he gets booted out for guests. It’s a restful room, with plenty of colour. Minimal toys in here, just books. All the sleep distracting toys are in the playroom.

  • Paint: Morning Glory by Resene
  • Wallpaper tree: My nemesis. 3 yrs in the making and counting. Used spare vintage wallpaper rolls from Grandma’s house (it’s was in their hallway and “kids” rooms…the kids are now in their 60’s and 70’s!) so that’s quite special. I think it must be 40 years old. I’ve had an idea for ages about making this the “mum’s kindness tree”. Will buy nice card, cut more leaf shapes, and then when I see M or T being really kind or thoughtful with each other, will write it on the leaf and surprise them with it the next day. Hopefully that tree gets a whole lot leafier. No rewards, just acknowledgement.
  • Bookshelves: Trademe, the trader said she’d had them her whole life since a girl, and were well loved. Love getting other family’s history to become part of ours.
  • Drawers: Trade Me, all I did was sand back the drawer faces: which still needs to be completed! Handles a touch too girly and paint job is terrible.
  • Shelf: From Dad’s Garage, best shop in the world.
  • Bedspread: vintage, from Great Grandma Ralph. This was on a single bed we used as kids when on sleepovers. So soft and in pristine condition, ready for when other great grandkids want to have a turn
  • Throw: Bed Bath and Beyond.
  • Bunting: Craft, made from Golden books.instructions coming soon.
  • ABC install: flash cards purchased from Wanda Harland. Love the illustrative style.
  • Framed art: postcards from travelling aunties and special birthday cards, plus a favourite illustration from a double-up book. Frames from The Warehouse.
  • Soft-toy trunk. 2nd-hand shop. Couldn’t walk past this. Aqua, gold accents, huge storage – done.


  • Pelmet
  • Re-paint the walls (I moved shelving around a bit, so there are a lot of patched and sanded but not yet painted spots!)
  • Update sheets/pillowslips linen



Hands-down one of my favourite rooms. Probably because it’s also one of the most-finished, but I do think it’s the perfect little space for a little girl, and more importantly? She adores it. Yes. There’s a heap of pink and gold in here but it’s anchored by that lovely soft and calm blue. Personally, I love all the different patterns and textures. It’s “grown up” for a kids room, but not too serious.

Kids generate so much clutter, especially arty crafty ones, so all those drawers in the desk are invaluable. I really want to instill a love of colour and art in my kids (I have a pretty arty family, my Dad is a clever photographer and my sister is an amazing artist, so the mini wall of art is a kick-start to that. At this stage it’s just postcards, prints and celebrating some of original art pieces but it will grow. My best girlfriend’s parents-in-law celebrate each grandchild’s birthday with a new piece of original art, and I love that idea to build up a future collection.

This room doesn’t have a lot of toys (that’s what the playroom is for). It’s all about quiet creating time, reading and sleeping.

  • Paint colour: Resene. From a Karen Walker Collection, called “Powder Blue”. Love it. So calm and neutral with all that pink!
  • Linen: main duvet cover = Sheriden Riley collection. Better after every wash: so soft. Floral euro pillo made by me from a tablecloth sourced on Trade Me, pink striped cushion made by me from an old favourite cardigan, duck pillow $15 on etsy, owl cushion $10 from Briscoes, pink dahlia cushion handed down from a friend. Was a faded orange, dyed it pink.
  • Curtains: Spotlight.
  • Desk: Te Omanga Hospice Shop in Petone DIY’d, project notes coming
  • Chair: Trade Me, DIYd project notes coming
  • Headboard DIY’d project notes coming
  • Star Wall: DIYd project notes coming
  • Apple art above drawers: crafted project notes coming
  • Art above desk – various postcards/birthday cards/original art pieces by Molly. Frames from The Warehouse.
  • Floral light-switches – crafted see how here
  • Shelves: Trade Me
  • Dollshouse: Trade Me
  • Lamp: Throwback lamp from Freedom Furniture $99
  • Geometric tray: crafted
  • Hook: Redcurrent $15


  • Block-out charcoal grey roman blind or curtains with white pop pom trim
  • Fabric pelmet DIY
  • Brass handles on drawers
  • Properly re-finish the chest of drawers: strip and beeswax polish the top of the drawers
  • Organise the wardrobe! One half is awesome. Other half also serves as a linen cupboard and it’s a nightmare.


This room is possibly the best in the house because it delivers the most function. It’s central to the kitchen and lounge so I can always hear what the kids are up to, but it’s got a sliding door so at the end of the day I can slide that puppy closed and pretend we live in a perfectly tidy house. This room means the kid’s bedrooms can have minimal toys in them to promote better sleep (a girl can try).

Given the amount of stuff in here, I went for black walls, as a neutral base to absorb some of the chaos. Again: big risk, but actually with the large window and sliding door, it wasn’t that much black and it really worked. We used cube shelving with a mix of containers and open shelf displays for the bulk of the toys. There are also 2 x bins for dress-ups (we are big on those in our house), a rotating “wall of fame” for current masterpieces, and a play table. I try and rotate what’s on that table display as the kids tend to gravitate towards that. There’s also a “kitchen/shopping” area (as you do), and a garage + extensive transport fleet.

Yes. Laugh away at those labels. All my friends do. They do however ensure that anyone can clean this room up without too much effort and things will always be in the right place. Because you don’t ever want to be in the situation of “Mum, I can’t find my…[insert endless random requests, for example: “car transporter”] ”. It’s just not on.

And because there’s not enough going on in here, we added a home office too. We made a desk out of a door, hung some shelving intended for a garage and made our own geometric cork noticeboard:

  • Walls: Resene Nero.
  • Shelving: youcube (2 x units painted up and attached together then earthquake proofed by attaching to wall).
  • Desk: Mitre10 Mega. Standard interior door + 1 kitchen cupboard and bracketed to wall underneath. Loads of storage here. Read about that here.
  • Corkboard Noticeboard: Mitre10 Mega. Crafted-up by me. Had to get some geometric love in!
  • Wall-hung cupboards: Mitre10 Mega. Meant to be in a garage, but they tied in with the style of our kitchen.
  • play-tent: DIY
  • Table and chairs: Ikea on Trade Me
  • Play-oven: Trade Me


  • Exchange filing cabinet for another under bench kitchen cupboard.
  • Replace handles on the two under bench cupboards with round dowels (I know some-one with lots left over from some certain hooks).
  • More under-desk storage.
  • Decent office chair.
  • Desk lighting.
  • Spray handles on upper cupboard doors a brass colour.


I appreciate the easy-care nature of this family bathroom and it’s all fairly new (thus easy to clean!), but it’s just so builder-beige. This is the one room that I can’t wait to get stuck into. It won’t be major structural changes, but big impact changes – like maybe the perfect light I’ve spotted. The problem with having a new house that is perfectly fine is that it’s tough to convince my financial partner (AKA husband) to part with coin to decorate it. So, this one is down the list for now. All I’ve done is hung up a beautiful painting from Rosie Ralph Artist, purchased this AWESOME storage unit from Mocka (kids love the sliding doors, so actually put stuff away), and added some styling…some of which I stole from the playroom. Cheapest shop ever.


  • New light fitting. Have my eye on this lovely from Freedom
  • New mirror
  • New ceiling mounted shower curtain rail
  • New shower curtain – black and white stripes? Abstract blues?