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take it slow

From Habitat magazine - issue 16

A savvy couple respond to the economic times with a creatively cautious renovation.

Blue living room

Everyone knows that renovations can easily blow out financially. You think you have the numbers right, you think you have allowed for contingencies but then the roof needs replacing, or you find the wiring has been eaten by mice.

Homeowner and architect Fleur Ford knows the pitfalls better than most and is used to warning clients not to bite off more than they can chew. A full-time mum at present, she has worked in the hospitality and retail arenas.

So when she and husband Roger got resource consent for the major renovation of their old villa in the same week that the world economic meltdown happened back in 2009, they very wisely modified their timeline.

They couldn't shelve their plans completely as the house they had bought in preparation for their expanding family was dark, poky, shabby, poorly maintained and split into three flats. There was a grove of privet trees in the backyard along with a wrecked car and the interiors hadn't been touched, it seemed, since the 1950s. Many of its original features had been stripped out, with just the doors, albeit covered in plywood, and door hardware remaining.

Blue and green living room
Fleur's modern interpretation of the house's original colours includes living room walls in Resene Metamorphis. Top of page photo: Crossover blue/greens have been used in adjacent living spaces with Resene Neutral Green in the foreground and Resene Metamorphis in the background.

What attracted the Fords was the house's generous square footprint, its location on the city fringe and the ability to add basement garaging without too much excavation. They pushed ahead with the garaging and have renovated the front of the house which contains the living areas, now light airy spaces resplendent in gorgeous Resene colour.

But even here, some temporary measures have been taken, for example a kitset kitchen with laminate benchtops has been installed instead of the full-on designer number that will eventually be created. Says Roger: "We've seen people put everything they ever wished for into a house then have to sell it because they can't afford it anymore. Which is counter-productive to the whole exercise. There's no point doing all that work then not being able to enjoy it."

Ford family
Green family room
Ford family: Roger and Fleur Ford with their youngest child Christopher.  Family area: The family area beside the kitchen is finished in Resene Neutral Green.

Says Fleur: "You can easily spend half a million and it's all invisible. You're going to spend money on things in the walls that you can't see but they have to be done. And there are always unforeseen circumstances. You can change the cosmetics later on."

Her rule of thumb for a residential renovation budget is to allow 60% for the physical building work, 20% for consents and consultants, and 20% on top for contingencies. "The 60% may sound shockingly low but it is the reality once all other costs like consent, contingency and GST are factored in. Know your numbers and stick to your budget. It's sensible to be conservative.

Dining room - metallic walls
Cost-effective kitchen
Dining room: Fleur calls this her disco wall, finished in a metallic paint, Resene Lodestar.  Kitchen: A smart and cost-effective solution for the kitchen is a kitset with laminate benchtop.

Sticking to budget means shopping cleverly, like the up-market ensuite hand basin the Fords bought for $20 because it had a small chip, and which they had re-enamelled.

Aside from a lick of paint, the bedrooms will have to wait for the next stage of the renovation. Says Fleur: "The bedrooms would take a battering with young kids anyway so once they are a bit older, we'll renovate that part of the house."

The Fords wanted a family home, not an architect's home for their three children: Amanda (7), Giselle (5) and Christopher (16 months). "It has to be kick-aroundable."

Retro laundry room
Study nook
Laundry room: A quirky retro look has been given to the laundry with its Resene Metamorphis walls.  Study nook: A corner of the family room is a handy study nook. The walls are Resene Neutral Green. Get the look with Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen tinted to Resene Neutral Green and Resene Lustacryl (trims and joinery) tinted to Resene Black White.

With Fleur responsible for the design work, Roger essentially became the client during the renovation process and admits that Fleur's colour choices forced him to make a leap of faith.

Says Fleur: "I wanted the colours to look a little bit retro, as in pre World War One, but also fresh and modern. The original wallpapers in the house were quite colourful, there was an old Axminster carpet and the verandah was a seafoam colour."

Brightened childrens room
A temporary paint job in Resene Neutral Green brightens one of the children's rooms before they can be properly renovated.

Her modern interpretation for the colour palette includes two transitional blue/greens with Resene Metamorphis and Resene Neutral Green from the Karen Walker range. Most people wouldn't put those two colours in adjoining rooms – one is quite a clear colour while the other is quite muddy – but Fleur knew that joinery in crisp Resene Black White would allow enough visual breathing space.

And then there is what she calls her 'disco wall' – Resene Lodestar from the Resene Metallics and special effects range. "I wanted a bit of sparkle at night by the dining table." This wall is like a central spine to the house, with the Resene Lodestar used not only on the kitchen and family room side behind the dining table, but also on a feature wall in the main living area.

Renovated home exterior
The exterior is now smart in a colour scheme of Resene Caraway weatherboards, windows in Resene Black White, and sills and garage door in Resene Mondo. Get the look with weatherboards painted in Resene Lumbersider tinted to Resene Caraway.

Fleur's favourite Resene colour is, in fact, Resene Tasman which has been used in one of the bedrooms. "It's a very moody colour. It can be grey, then green, then a warm blue."

Fleur's choice of furniture is fairly neutral for flexibility but with deliciously patterned fabrics – a pair of wingback chairs in a swirly brocade, and a pair of retro chairs in a quirky dotted fabric.

They stand the test of time as well as the test of three boisterous kids as this work in progress serves its main purpose as a happy, functioning family home.

Did you know...

That Metallics are a superb way to add extra sparkle and surprise to your home. Make sure you finish them with a clear finish like Resene Multishield+ to protect the metallic surface against general wear and tear. You can combine a lightly textured Mediterranean effect like Resene Sandtex applied in a criss cross manner then topcoat with Resene metallics for an extra special look. See the Resene Metallics and special effects colour chart for colour ideas, available from Resene ColorShops or resellers or order from the Resene website.

Accessories: Builder: James Anderson, Maungawhau Builders Ltd. Coffee table: Danske Mobler in NZ beech veneer. Family room furniture: Neo Design. Working drawings: Mike Roulston Kitchen benchtop: Zebrano by Wilsonart.

Alternative solution – casual comfort

a tranquil look is given a playful twist

Barbara Bromley of Bromley Tate Interiors suggests this alternative look:

Alternative solution 1

The simplicity and casual ambiance in this look is nonchalant and easy to enjoy. The reassuring colours of Resene Bison Hide and Resene Cobblestone coax a feeling of tranquility and relaxation with no suggestion of anxiety in the surroundings. The comforting ethereal blues and soft egret white wrap us in carefree blanket colours, harmoniously blending with the more mature mustard and grey green tones of the curtaining and the rug. This is an eclectic look which can allow you to combine treasured heirlooms and sentimental objects with fresh, playful elements of modern design for an unexpected twist!

Moody walls in Resene Cobblestone are complemented by ceilings in Resene Bison Hide and trims in Resene Half Alabaster. The Eames House Bird by Vitra, Angelic vases by Jo Cariatie, Rock floor lamp and B&B-Italia indoor/outdoor table are from Space Furniture. The Contemporare 13 rug is from Tappeti and the Iluka sideboard is from Homeware Gallery.

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Accessories: Flo Easy chair by Driade, Le Soleil light by Foscarini, Vitra Sunburst Clock, from Space Furniture. Contemporare 13 rug, from Tappeti. Curtains in Sunhaven colour Leaf, from Warwick Fabrics.

Alternative solution – graphic elegance

quirky colour and pieces add life to this space

Interior designer Kaye Coleman suggests this alternative scheme:

Alternative solution 2

The space suits a dining room concept with its proximity to the kitchen; the windows are at the right height and are given a tailored look with blinds. The starting point for the scheme is the sideboard which is fun, quirky and so refreshing. It also incorporates favourite colours of mine – emerald and fresh grass green with black and white, which suits a dining/kitchen area and shows how nature's colours can work together. The walls are finished in Resene Flourish to complement the green. The dark oak floor gives a warm background to the crisp colours while the fresh white dining chairs give relief to the green. The dining table is a good family size and its neutral tones leave the sideboard, walls and lighting to feature. I loved the idea of herbs being handy to the kitchen, becoming a feature in these inverted plant pots. A Michael Smithers print brings cheerful hot colours into the room.

With walls in fresh Resene Flourish, trims in Resene Alabaster and timber floors in sophisticated Resene Colorwood Pitch Black stain with Resene Qristal ClearFloor, this is a funky yet elegant scheme.

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Accessories: Amrapali Peony roman blinds by Designers Guild, from Icon Textiles. Tank pendant lights in Emerald Green, Unique chairs in white, Wrongwoods sideboard, from Simon James Design. Michael Smithers Limited Edition Art, from Parnell Gallery.

words: Sharon Newey
pictures: Mark Heaslip
illustration: Malcolm White

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