An Auckland woman's renovations cost was offset by thinking of the future comfort they would bring.
Building a two-storey studio garage to live in while her Auckland bungalow was renovated taught Auckland woman Annette Brothers a valuable lesson. "I paid by the hour to have the garage built, with no end-cost in mind, so I went over budget," she says. "When the house was built I arranged for a fixed contract."
Whatever the cost, Brothers was glad she had the studio to retreat to with her two sons while work continued on her century-old, inner-city bungalow. "In previous home renovations I was put off by the dust, the constant moving of things, builders moving about and the noise," she says.
"I had two small children, so having the studio to move into during the renovating was awesome. If we had rented elsewhere for 10 months it would have eaten into the budget."
Brothers also knew this studio space would suit the boys when they became teenagers.
One of the main reasons for renovating the house was to make it a healthy and warm home for her sons Jacob and Theo, now aged 9 and 5 respectively.
Brothers bought the bungalow in 2002 because of its renovation potential and the fact it was close to popular Ponsonby Rd. But the layout was all wrong, with a poky kitchen and bathroom on one side and a toilet "in a sort of outhouse" on the other.
The renovation revamped the downstairs to create a large open plan living area with furniture defining the zones - formal lounge, family room, kitchen and dining room.
Opening out the space meant losing a wall of kitchen cupboards. "Now I have only one wall of cupboards in the kitchen but I can stand at the bench while I'm cooking dinner, watch TV and still see the kids playing outside in the garden," she says.
"Also, my pantry is huge and holds all the crockery as well as the groceries."
Brothers also "popped the top" of the house to allow for an extra storey.
"I mulled it over for a long time because of the cost involved. But the short-term pain of the investment of building upwards didn't outweigh the long-term gain of having the area upstairs."
Now, the upstairs serves as her retreat with a bedroom and ensuite typifying her decorating style.
"I start with neutral colours then pick a theme," she says.
In the case of the ensuite, she has used river stones to offset the neutral colours and create a natural look that brings the outdoors inside.
"The river stones are tactile on your feet - it's just like being in Bali."
Layered look: Starting with neutral colours as a base allows you to overlay colours and textures to create an individual look.
Clutter cutter: Brothers believes in keeping children's mess contained. "I don't let the toys overtake the adult space," she says. "The boys have a basket of toys in the living area but their bedroom is where they play."
Personal touch: Don't be afraid to try making decorations or simple artworks for your home. She made a mosaic cross to hang on the brown feature wall in the living room. Leanne Moore is the editor of Your Home & Garden. See the latest issue for the full story on this home and other ideas for your place.