When Louise Pilkington bought a house in Westmere, Auckland, its dark wooden interior was living on borrowed time.
One of the first things she and her partner Matt Iles did was paint the walls and ceilings white to make the home feel serene and light, and also to provide a perfect backdrop for Pilkington's favourite objects.
"White is a great way to show off my collection of art and art glass," she says. "Most of it is colourful and bold so by painting the wall and ceiling rimu panels white we now have a great texture, which makes it feel like a bach."
Pilkington has travelled overseas a lot for work (she owned the Servilles hair salon in Ponsonby for 15 years and is now co-owner of Loumina jewellery with her brother), which means she has a collection of exotic objects in her home to remind her of good times in fascinating places.
One such example is the green 17th-century lead crystal glass vase on the dining room table. Pilkington was with a friend in an antique shop in Argentina when she spotted it. "We were both blown away by the antiques in the shop," she says. "My friend brought a chandelier back in her hand luggage and I thought if she can bring back a chandelier I can bring back a huge vase."
Trips to India provided the colourful cushions that are scattered throughout the home and recall some great adventures. But some of Pilkington's favourite belongings are family heirlooms. "One special piece of furniture I will keep forever is my grandmother's purple chair that sits in the hallway," she says. "It still has its original velvet covering."
While renovating, Pilkington has mostly stuck to cosmetic rather than structural changes to the home, including ripping up the pink carpet and replacing it with a mushroom colour. She also took down curtains and blinds that didn't match the new look. Her mother, who is an interior designer, took unwanted materials such as curtains, door knobs, blinds and light fittings and donated them to hospice shops. "Nothing in our family gets thrown out unless it is rotting," says Pilkington.
Having lived in the home for seven months, she sees potential for more changes, including renovating the laundry and polishing the living area floorboards. She also has plans to build a stairwell and develop a downstairs area so they can add another bedroom.
"If anything, the end result is even better than I imagined it could be," says Pilkington. "I love the way it's all turned out, and I keep seeing even more possibilities of exciting things we can do."
White magic: Living with white interiors is easy and it's the ideal backdrop for art or interesting objects.
Highlights package: When renovating, decide which interesting aspects you want to retain. Pilkington's home was originally all natural wood but when the walls and ceilings were painted white, the rimu kitchen, wooden window frames and stained-glass windows became features.
Finishing touch: Consider having doors lacquered. It is difficult to get a professional finish on door surfaces so it's money well spent to achieve the right look.
Leanne Moore is the editor of Your Home & Garden. See the latest issue, on sale now, for more achievable home ideas.