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gentle reflections

From Habitat magazine - issue 19

Soft aged colours all look like gentle reflections of the same thought process in this labour-of-love villa.

Nancy and Nick Poland laugh wryly as they remember how a condescending kitchen design firm tried to brush them off with a kitset instead of the made-to-measure package their latest renovation project required. "They seemed to think because we look young we were beginners in the renovation game," remembers Nick. "Little did they know Nancy comes from a family of serial renovators and this is the third house we have done since we got married."

Bright renovated villa kitchen
Cabinets in Resene Pearl Lusta are offset by the classy coolness of Resene Joanna walls and Resene Linen backpainted glass splashbacks.

Looking around the large, immaculate spaces of the grand return-veranda villa that is their latest home it's hard to imagine how they managed to do most of the work themselves, with tradespeople only being employed on the 'legal' bits. Lofty ceilings, acres of woodwork, perfectly executed paintwork – it's mostly down to their own hard work. They even relined the extra-high ceilings themselves.

Although the villa looks like it has always been here, surrounded by luscious gardens, it was actually moved on to the semi-rural section about 40 years ago. When Nick and Nancy bought it eight years ago the interiors were dark and oppressive, and having been turned around to take advantage of views across the valley, it had lost its sense of arrival from the road.

Moody aged bedroom ceiling
Villa hallway
Bedroom: A moody aged-looking ceiling in the main bedroom is painted in Resene Arrowtown while the walls are Resene Double Spanish White. A beaded curtain decorates the wall. Get the look with Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen tinted to Resene Double Spanish White. Hallway: Trims in Resene Tana show as a soft eggshell green against the Resene Half Pearl Lusta walls. An archival artwork of old papers, paint and timber is on the left.

Since Nick and Nancy's ownership the internal flow has been rationalised, an extension added for an ensuite, a front lobby created out of a badly located bathroom, and a collection of calmly interconnecting colours now subtly underscore the play of light through the different rooms.

Nancy has used Resene Pearl Lusta in varying strengths as a unifying thread in the colour scheme. It appears on the woodwork, ceilings and on the kitchen cabinets. It also allows other colours – Resene Joanna on the kitchen walls, Resene Sisal in the dining and living rooms, Resene White Rock in the children's room, Resene Tana on the hall trims and Resene Double Spanish White in the master bedroom – to all look like gentle reflections of the same thought process.

Villa porch
Nancy relaxes on the porch with Amelia and Oliver. The weatherboards are Resene Black Haze, the baseboard is Resene New Denim Blue, and the deck and trims are Resene Tsunami.

Nancy is not just a builder, a painter and decorator, she's also a sewer and an artist. Most of the soft furnishings have been made by her (with a bit of help from her mum in the case of the huge and heavy sitting room curtains) and many of the paintings are also from her fertile and talented imagination.

Colourful child's room
A chest of drawers in the children's room is painted in Resene Pohutukawa (red), Resene Carpe Diem (orange) and Resene Sushi (green). The walls are in Resene White Rock.

A large archival artwork in the new entry lobby is made up of century-old newspapers, patches of scrim and rose patterned wallpaper, turquoise painted match-lining and kauri boards. It tells the story of the house. Alongside, in the calm retreat of the Resene Sisal dining room are three more framed sections of newsprint, the faded cream of each picking up the Resene Pearl Lusta of the woodwork.

Traditional villa living room
Resene Sisal is a warm backdrop in the living room. Get the look with Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen tinted to Resene Sisal.

It wasn't until Oliver (now four) and two-year-old Amelia came along that a love of bright colours came to the fore. In their bedroom, a drawer unit glows with green Resene Sushi, orange Resene Carpe Diem and red Resene Pohutukawa. Even Oliver's baby feet were used to create the art that hangs opposite his bed. Says Nancy: "I put him in his baby bouncer, dipped his feet in a colour and let him bounce to his heart's content. When there was enough of one colour on the canvas I'd wipe his feet, dip them in the next one and away he'd go."

Modern ensuite
The ensuite was a recent addition to the house.

The most recently completed project is a small addition to house the ensuite bathroom. Nancy and Nick knew enough to draw the line at attempting this unaided. "This is where we got a builder to do all the structural bits, but we learnt how to hang weatherboards, cut scribers and a whole lot of other things. We really had fun, and now it looks like it's always been there."

So, too, does the fact that the house now has two entrance doors. The recently added one is painted a smart Resene Dark Knight and looks completely in keeping with the Resene Black Haze of the weatherboard.

Villa exterior
The front of the villa faces out across the valley. The weatherboards are Resene Black Haze, the baseboard is Resene New Denim Blue, the trims are Resene Tsunami and the door is Resene Dark Knight.

And it's not over yet. "It might look as though it's finished," says Nancy, "but believe me we'll find lots more little bits to do."

Top tip: Steps and paths can become slippery when wet. Avoid falls with Resene Non-Skid Deck & Path, available in a range of colours to suit your home.

Did you know... that Resene CoolColour paint reflects more of the sun's heat than standard paint to reduce stress on the coating and surface? It's ideal for darker colours used on exteriors.

Accessories: Foyer floor tiles: Winckelmans range from Tile Trends. MDF unit: bought on TradeMe and painted by Nancy and Nick. Ensuite bath and basin: Plumb In, AlbanyKauri vanity top: by furniture maker Martin Smallshaw.

Alternative solution – a floral feast

a striking mosaic inspires this scheme

Designer Natalie Du Bois suggests this alternative scheme:

By adding an eye-catching feature like the mosaic wall into the shower area, it helps correct the long dimensions of the room and becomes a real show piece. It also brings an organic element to the space. The colours of Resene Secrets and the Resene Port Phillip used on the exterior of the bath are inspired by the mosaic tile colours and compensate for the room's lack of natural light. The bath, floor-mounted towel rail and the vanity are modern interpretations of more traditional forms. The vanity, finished in a Resene Blackwood stain, provides lots of storage and the two basins allow two people to easily use the bathroom. The classic brick-laid white wall tiles are a look that won't date.

Villa renovation alternative solution 1

Pale green walls in Resene Secrets and a bath finished in Resene Port Phillip echo colours found in the eye-catching mosaic wall. The ceiling and trims are in Resene Alabaster and the vanity is in Resene Colorwood Blackwood stain.

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Top tip: Do you have a technical problem or need help with choosing the right type of paint to use in special situations like bathrooms? Ask a Resene Technical Expert at

Accessories: Luray wall light, from The Lighting Centre. Marella Green Bisazza glass mosaicdesigned by Carlo Dal Bianco, from Heritage Tiles. Cement White tile, from European Ceramics. Eiffel free-standing bath painted in Resene Port Phillip, Tube floor mounted bath filler with hand shower, from Plumbline.

Alternative solution – natural tranquility

fresh greens bring a watery calm to this room

Zaina Ali from Metrix suggests this alternative scheme:

Resene Kombi and Resene Miso were chosen to bring elements of freshness into the room particularly as there is no natural view. These colours also sit well with the green hues in the mosaic tiles in the shower compartment. In keeping with the natural, fresh theme, the tapware range includes a showerhead shaped like a giant waterdrop. The original layout has been kept but the toilet has been relocated so that it's out of sight when the door is ajar. The vanity and drawer units float on the wall, with a zen-like simplicity. Wall-hung elements like these and the toilet help to visually open up the room. The seat on the toilet has a night light, variable water spray and heat options, a fan to dry you off with and a remote to operate it! Luxury.

Villa renovation alternative solution 2

This fresh almost zen-like scheme uses Resene Koru walls with a Resene Miso ceiling. Aside from the products mentioned at right, the bathroom also features a Duravit Onto Basalt drawer unit and Onyx Hade Tumble Mosaics from Heritage Tiles as a feature strip in the shower compartment.

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Top tip: Resene SpaceCote Flat Kitchen & Bathroom combines anti-bacterial silver protection and MoulDefender mould inhibitor, perfect for minimising unwanted nasties on kitchen, bathroom and laundry ceilings. And it can be wiped down if marks appear on it.

Accessories: Duravit Onto double bowls in Dark Brown, Marblo Mojo solid surface bath, Gessi Goccia wall mounted basin mixer and ceiling shower head, Duravit Darling New wall hung toilet pan with Philippe Starck Bidet seat, from Plumbing World. Naturale Grigio 600 x 600 wall tile, from Heritage Tiles.

pictures: Mark Heaslip
words: Cate Foster
illustration: Malcolm White

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