When Meredith Crawford and her husband Michael came back to New Zealand in 2008 they planned to extend and renovate a home they already owned on Auckland's Northcote Pt.
After 10 years in Sydney they returned home for the laid-back lifestyle, more suited to raising their daughters Mia, now 7, and Lucie, 5.
They worked on plans to upgrade their Northcote Pt home for two years - but then another home, in a neighbouring suburb, came on the market.
This home was big enough for the family and it made sense with two young children to buy something more suitable rather than embark on a major renovation.
Well, that's how it seemed to her accountant husband, although Crawford took some convincing. Eventually, she saw the merits of moving to the other house - and it was hard to ignore the panoramic views overlooking the water and right round to the harbour bridge. Now, if she has to go into the city and wants to check the traffic, she heads upstairs to the main bedroom to see if there is a queue on the bridge.
Crawford also liked the idea of buying a home that was essentially a blank canvas with all the hard work finished.
"All the structural work had been done," she says. "I liked how neutral it was, and that it was a place we could really put our stamp on. I loved the layout and the view. And although I'd first walked in determined not to like it, all that began to change."
What she began to realise was that the home could become the perfect place for her daughters to grow up in. As someone who loves trawling through blogs, magazines and thrift stores for decorating ideas, Crawford was in heaven when they moved into and began decorating the bigger house.
"We went from a tiny little bungalow to a place that was double the size."
But that didn't mean she charged in headlong in a bid to fill the space. Her overall plan was to create a glamorous look, albeit in a family-friendly fashion. That meant softening the bold black and white colour scheme she employed with splashes of colour.
She still has other plans, too, including a wallpapered wall and perhaps a few more splashes of bold colour. "I like the idea of layering a house, continuing to add texture and interest."
Square deal: Crawford bought cheap white storage cubes and pasted vibrant paper inside to make them more colourful and sophisticated.
Paper feature: when she went on maternity leave, colleagues gave her some Florence Broadhurst wallpaper that she has used on bedhead panels in the main bedroom.
Board games: a blackboard in the kitchen provides a graphic element and also serves as a way to keep track of family activities.By Leanne Moore