Careful use of colour appears to enlarge the interior of a small Waiheke cottage.
After looking at about 50 houses on Waiheke Island, Megan Peterken was sold straight away on a 1950s cottage.
"I knew as soon as I came down the driveway - without even seeing the house - that I was going to buy it," Peterken says. "The parking and the view sold it. Inside had the smell of a school hall, reminiscent of halls I visited as a child. The only thing I was unsure about was the small size."
To counter that, she created the illusion of more space by repainting the home in neutral colours - a grey for the walls and a stark white to lift the ceiling. "I knew the whiter the paint was, the higher the ceiling would look," she says. "A cream would have made it look insular."
Using uniform colours is a tried and true method for Peterken. "Any home I have had, I have always done the same colour throughout," she says. "It's also more economical. You can add personality to a room with accessories such as art, the colour of a duvet and lamps."
To create even more height, she had plaster domes installed in the roof to raise the ceiling slightly where the chandeliers hang.
With the background created, Peterken began filling the house with pieces collected during her time in France, Germany and the Middle East.
The chandeliers in the living area were bought in Dubai, where Peterken worked as a translator for France's rugby sevens team, while the large mirrors in the bedrooms are from Morocco, and the dining table and chairs from Dubai.
Peterken chose retro-style appliances for the kitchen, such as the mint-coloured Smeg fridge, because she knew they would suit the cottage. She also went for chicken netting detail on the upper kitchen cupboards, similar to the old farmhouse pantries she had seen in France. "I like the idea of being able to see what is inside."
A French flavour can also be seen in the bathroom, which has a shower, double sinks, toilet, washing machine and Ikea shelving. "It is like a typical French apartment bathroom, especially with the washing machine in the bathroom," says Peterken. For the sake of continuity, the same tiles are used in the bathroom and the kitchen.
Having done the house up, Peterken has left Waiheke to live with her partner in the Waikato. "My home is now my holiday home but we come back for weekends and holidays, with a view to returning one day."
Maximise space in a smaller house by taking storage units up to the ceiling. Light colours and mirrors create the illusion of more space.
Make sure you have your finances, including a contingency fund, in place before you start any project. "There is nothing more heartbreaking than wanting to have something a certain way and then having to compromise due to a lack of funds," says Peterken.
Choose pieces of furniture that won't date. Are they a five-minute wonder or will they still be fashionable in a year or 10 years?
Leanne Moore is the editor of Your Home & Garden. See the latest issue, on sale now, for more achievable home ideas.