Months of brainstorming and the creation of a scrapbook of inspirational design ideas helped Annabel and Gerry Claudatos put together their first home renovation project.
Four years on from the day they moved in to this original 1930s bungalow, they're glad they took their time to live in the home as it was and spend those eight months planning their value-added, affordable renovation.
"We were first homeowners and we didn't want to make any mistakes," says Annabel.
Noting the home's charming bungalow features, including its bay window and casement windows, they chose to leave its exterior intact.
Instead, they turned their attention to the separate kitchen, dining room and lounge and the walls, which were the obvious barriers to modern living.
Their new light-filled interior that has opened up the entrance to their lounge, dining area and kitchen came down to the removal of just two internal walls.
Their entrance that was set up by the previous owner with a desk and chair is now a welcoming transition area from their landscaped outdoor entertainment area to a simple floorplan that has living areas to the right and bedrooms to the left.
"It's so easy to live in," says Gerry. "It feels so lovely to come home to because it isn't dark and dingy any more. It just feels like home."
Annabel says it is an easy home to heat and keep cool across the seasons. "It takes not much more than 15 minutes to clean. It's just so easy."
There was much work done beneath the surface, including new wiring, wall linings and insulation.
They installed an attic ladder to ceiling-storage space and discreet built-in storage elsewhere.
From their restored timber floors to the original panelled bungalow doors, they've balanced a modern aesthetic with the beauty of original architectural features, including the lounge fireplace and its timber mantel.
They replaced worn fixtures such as door-lock sets and handles with quality reproductions. "We've replaced like with like because we wanted to maintain the bungalow style," says Annabel.
Of their understated palette, Annabel says "Everything that is fixed is neutral. I wanted to keep it neutral and add colour into our art and cushions, which means that the new owners can add their own flair."
Their galley kitchen has a deep profile engineered stone bench that is the connection to their dining area.
The laundry with storage is off the kitchen behind double doors en route to their adjacent rear study. This quiet, carpeted room is a shared home office for Gerry and Annabel, who co-own a logistics and shipping company.
Of their bedrooms, the rear nursery of their 15-month-old daughter Mila is the smaller of the two, located behind the master bedroom and next to the family bathroom.
In redesigning their bedroom, Annabel and Gerry opened up the original front sunroom and incorporated its footprint and wrap-around casement windows into their private space.
The extra space at the back of the room became the perfect spot for their en suite.
Annabel and Gerry's first project attracted enthusiasm and support from Annabel's family, who own the property development company Tawera Group. The group's architect, Paul Brown, project-managed the structural aspects of the three-month renovation.
Annabel's mother helped her design the two-tiered scoria wall that frames their front lawn.
Annabel and Gerry's big family gatherings here are among the best memories they'll take from here as they move to the larger home they'll need when their second baby is born in February.