A new space for old things

I wanted to renovate my space so that it would lovingly house my things. Things that I had collected over the years from secondhand shops, garage sales and markets. At the same time, I still needed the space to do its job – provide a functional kitchen, a designated dining area and a relaxing living room. Time for a renovation project.


My house was built in the early 1980s. It is 80 square metres (860 square feet) in total and has three bedrooms, one bathroom and a combined kitchen, dining and living area. The combined living area makes up the front third of the house.

Motivated by the grungy kitchen and armed with a budget of $40,000 (NZ) I decided to renovate the combined space to make it more functional and reflect my own personal style.

The build

The partition wall between the kitchen and the living room was removed to make one big room. The back door was relocated to the other end of the kitchen and the ceiling, walls and floor were relined.




Big difference already huh. Everything was painted white, which I did myself to keep the costs down. My dad helped out with the first coat so he could show me what to do. Neither of us had any experience painting a floor so I had to figure that out myself.

Making the space a home

I reeeaally wanted a woodburner. I wanted it to be a key feature that could be enjoyed from anywhere in the room. I had dreams of curling up on the sofa with a good book and a crackling fire, and of sitting at the dining table eating a nice meal while the fire glowed nearby. My vision was strong people, so I made it happen.


As you can see I was so excited when I got it that I cranked it up as soon as it was installed!

To warm up all that white I chose a wooden benchtop. It is recycled Oregon. I bought it online ready-made and had the builder cut it down to size. Then I sanded and oiled it myself –  I had no idea what I was doing so I just gave it a go.


While knocking out a wall meant a bigger overall space, I knew I was still going to end up with a pretty small kitchen. That meant a serious edit of ‘stuff’. Once I had decided on what was staying and what was going, it was a case of choosing cabinetry with specific items in mind.


I didn’t want a standard kitset pantry because it had to sit right in the entryway so it needed to look like it belonged in that space. Plus, those things seem really overpriced for what they are. Instead, I found a secondhand wooden cabinet on Trademe, built an extra shelf for the inside and painted it. It works well as a pantry and it looks beautiful.


The finished room




All that remains to be done is curtains for the ranchslider and wooden venetians for the windows – I’m using plain roller blinds for now. Oh and of course I’ll need some artwork but that’s something that will happen in its own time.

What it cost


I came in at about $1,000 over my budget of $40K. I purchased things  a couple of years before I started the renovation so I could take advantage of sales, source budget-friendly options and negotiate deals. Here’s the approximate breakdown. All costs include GST:

$27,500 for the build which included demolition of the old room, removal of the partition wall, relocation of the entry door, construction of new entry steps, purchase and installation of two new double-glazed windows, insulation of the walls, relining of ceiling, walls, floors, and installation of the new kitchen cabinetry and fittings – price covered materials and labour for the builder, plumber and electrician.

$6,500 for the kitchen cabinetry (kitset), benchtop (pre-made), pantry (secondhand), kitchen shelves (purchased the brackets online and built the shelves myself), and appliances (mid price range).

$5,000 for the woodburner including installation.

$2,000 for paint and everything else.


I’m proud to say that aside from the build itself (walls, fittings, appliances etc) hardly anything is brand new. I even reused my existing door handles! Furniture and decor items were things I either already had, were given to me or I sourced secondhand. It feels gentle, natural and authentic and makes for a lovely home.





Author: homemade and humble

Hi, I'm Ana. Welcome to my blog. I live in Wellington, New Zealand with my partner in a little cottage on a hill. We are working to build a life free from the rat-race, where we get to design our days around spending time together, enjoying good food and hunting for treasures for our home. We are both homebodies and prefer homemaking and cooking to outdoor pursuits and sport. This is where I share stories of our experiences as we set our course for a life full of warmth, comfort and beauty. I hope you enjoy it.

9 thoughts on “A new space for old things”

  1. Amazing transformation! I’m inspired by your approach of collecting everything for two years in advance to take advantage of sales and specials.


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