Our Home Renovation

Matt and I bought our new home together in May 2017. So exciting!

It’s a lovely old home – a villa from 1904 – smack dab in the middle of one of Dunedin’s oldest, most central suburbs, within walking distance to everything.

Our home is beautiful, but it needs work. So over the coming years we’ll be renovating the place, top to bottom. You can follow what we’re doing – and how we do it – on this blog. Where there’s a post on a particular transformation, I’ll add a link.

Most of these updates are just what I would classify as basic. The home has not been updated for a long time, and the bathroom and kitchen are circa 1950s in style and function. The place was kept in good condition generally but deteriorated over the last 20 years, as the old lady who lived here became less capable with age. In short, it needs a complete update.

It’s liveable, but only just, in the case of the kitchen and bathroom!

Garden and outside

  • Our Lilliput Library – we join the Lilliput Library scheme with our own tiny public library!
  • Cleaning a fence – We cleared off an old, daggy trellis and waterblasted the back fence. The result was a quick, easy and cost-free transformation!

The renovation…in progress

Overall basic changes

  • Renovations – we’ve been busy! Talking about heat pumps, fibre and safety measures.
  • Replacing locks on doors, adding locks on at-risk windows.
  • Replacing loose outdated cupboard knobs on laundry and hallway cupboards, lining cupboard shelves with wipe-down liner.
  • Donating several pieces of furniture, light fixtures, kitchen wares, linen etc. to the Hospice shop.
  • New smoke detectors, and a fire blanket in the kitchen.
  • Adding in two large Fujitsu heat pumps, one in the living room, one in the hallway.
  • Replacing all light globes with super-efficient LED bulbs.
  • Installing fibre internet – the kids are very happy about this!
  • Checking insulation (yes, we have full insulation top and bottom).
  • Thermal curtains – I’ve bought and am fitting new, high quality thermal curtains on all upstairs windows. Downstairs will be next.

Entry, stairs and hallway

  • Replaced stairwell curtains with high quality, thermal curtains.
  • Replaced old globes with super-efficient LED bulbs.


  • Nothing yet, apart from a fire blanket and new globe.

Bathroom, laundry and garage

  • Nothing yet.

Kids rooms upstairs

  • Purchased curtains for upstairs kids rooms.
  • Purchased primer.
  • Kids have decided on paint colors and decor.
  • Have sugar soaped all walls and scrubbed windowsills ready for priming and painting.
  • Will be priming in the next couple of weeks prior to painting, replacing light switches, outlets, light fittings and curtains.
  • Purchased new doorknobs for built-ins to install after painting.
    We’re ready to get painting!

Daughter’s room downstairs

  • Purchased new quilt cover.
  • Nothing else yet.

Our room

  • Have bought new bedside lamps and new light fitting. Installed.
  • Nothing else yet.

And you call yourself a minimalist?

Yes, I call myself a minimalist. Even with a large villa of 11 main rooms.

For me minimalism means buying what you need, and nothing more. Not buying stuff just for the sake of it.

In our case, we have four kids from two different families, and our youngest (my daughter) has a disability.

So sharing bedrooms was not an option – they needed their own space, more than most kids, in order for us to be a happy family together.

We felt that to put kids from different families into bedrooms together was too much to ask of them. So we compromised by buying a larger home that needs work, but that enables them to all have their own privacy and space – something we think they’ll all value as they move into their teenage years.

You can read about our decision to buy a larger home in my post Blended families, minimalism and compromise.

The house and garden from the rear. It’s in a lovely sunny spot, central to everything.