before & after: small home redo

I am in full agreement with Peta Mazey, the owner responsible for this wonderful home transformation: Sometimes, as she says, you just have to “throw white at it.” White may not be the most novel color, but as this home proves, white can do wonders for brightening a space and making it modern, fresh, spacious and clean. What I love most about Peta’s use of white is her total commitment to the monochromatic base: the white walls, curtains and lighting fixtures provide a lovely gallery-like setting for Peta’s colorful, curated selection of objects and furniture pieces. The space feels anything but small, and was all completed on an extremely reasonable budget. Amazing job, Peta! — Kate

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

Read the full post after the jump . . .

Time: 4 weeks

Cost: I was lucky enough to get the paint as trade for a photo session, so the only major cost was $2000 (about $1630) for the floors to be sanded and polished. I was under a tight budget, so all the furniture (minus the beds, which were gifted) came in at about $1000NZ (about $815).

Basic Steps: I know it’s been done a lot, but I subscribed to the school of “throw white at it.” It is such a small space, and the front room butts directly into the street, so the nets are always closed. Therefore, the white really lightens and opens up the space. The exposed wood joinery suffered from years of revarnishing and was an ugly bright orangey colour. So I decided to cover that up, too, and I’m so happy I did. Especially with the exposed floorboards. That seemed to add plenty of warmth (although definitely not literal warmth!). The house came covered in fantastic anaglypta wallpaper that I think looks awesome in white (it reminds me of Jonathan Adler pottery) and is quite a feature in person (more so than in the pictures). It’s a really small house, so I had to be very careful about furniture purchases. I scored a great mid-century dining set that fit perfectly into the bay window in the lounge, and I kept everything else quite small.

My advice: Try to do as much as you can while you have the steam! I can’t believe how much got done in such a small amount of time. I have barely done a thing since moving in, even though I’ve been here a year now. The front door still hasn’t been painted! It was suggested to me to do a room at a time, but I decided instead to do a job at a time, so all the woodwork got painted at once, all the tacks got lifted at once, and all the walls got painted at once. It was a big mess, but I think doing it a room at a time would have taken longer somehow. — Peta

Paint: Resene Quarter Bianca
Furniture: Second-hand shops and Trademe (our equivalent of trademe)
Rug: The Warehouse

  1. Loveash says:

    I think my favourite transformation is the hallway. Maybe I’m weird…

  2. Jacquie says:

    Gosh, your floors are absolutely gorgeous… who would have covered up all that wood! I’m a lover of white too – especially helps when you can’t decide on a colour but have to cover up what someone else left on the walls! White lets you use furniture & decor to add colour to the room (and change with seasons!).

  3. austere says:

    Beautiful! And perfect with the artwork. How large is this?
    You have nice light too.
    I have a tiny 530 sq ft home in Mumbai, all in white.
    Haven’t had the heart to paint over teak, and I do seem to have a lot of it.

  4. Jennifer says:

    Gorgeous makeover! I love the clean crisp white juxtaposed with the bright pops of color!

  5. Shelly says:

    Exquisite! I just want to wander through the rooms and soak it up. Love your style.

  6. Debbie says:

    I have similar, “beautiful” 60’s hollow wood doors…can’t wait to paint them ivory-white!!

  7. Tay says:

    NZ represent! Looks very chic :) The furniture is amazing, and all off trademe….wow!

  8. This has inspired me to go with white walls in the rooms where I have been procrastinating about a colour choice !

  9. Monica says:

    So authentic!

  10. Alex says:

    LOVE the after! Love the freshness of the white room mixed with MCM touches. Our living room is the same layout and we did a similar thing with ours. Except it’s still in progress. Yours is just calming and bright and lovely!

  11. Sarah says:

    ahh beautiful! What a winsome home.

  12. mslewis says:

    Love this house!! Especially the hallway with those intriguing lights. Very special. Of course, I would have painted everything ORANGE and regretted it, so congrats on being sensible and “throwing white at it.” Great job.

  13. Azil says:

    my two favorite things: the hanging light bulbs in the hall and all the bold colors in textiles and art work used throughout, nice!

  14. Katy says:

    Just curious, where in NZ are you? The first picture I saw I thought to myself “that’s got to be NZ!” – a distinct kiwi house!

  15. kat says:

    so very jealous of the furniture and the deer collection! :)

  16. So pleased to have NZ on design sponge. Well done.

  17. Diacritique says:

    I agree with Nancy : I wouldn’t have painted the old wooden doors. Otherwise, it’s very very nice.

  18. Mahrukh says:

    Possibly the most amazingggg makeover ive ever seen!!! i’m sure the home -owners are ecstatic to see how theyre literally “New” house.

  19. Nicole says:

    Love, love, love!

  20. Andrea says:

    What was the name of the white paint you used? Also, was it the same finish for the walls and skirting boards/trim etc?

    Love it!!!

  21. Peta says:

    Andrea – It was Resene Quarter Bianca in low sheen on the walls, and the same colour in Semi-Gloss on the woodwork/doors

  22. Tonya says:

    Love the transformation.

  23. Nancy D says:

    too sterile looking for me, this would show a lot of dirt also

  24. Lisa Barrett says:

    Perfect, I absolutely love it!
    {I would have painted the doors in the hallway too.}

    Where’s the fabric for mum’s cushions from?

  25. Peta says:

    Lisa – I got the fabric from a clearance store. I looked it up at the time, and it was a special edition by a UK designer, but I can’t remember the name sorry!

  26. Mary says:

    Really inspiring – I’ve been looking at houses of similar vintage and wondering if it’s “wrong” to paint over the “wood” work. You convince me that it’s so right!

  27. Jasmina says:

    Where did you get those beautiful fruit pictures from?
    All the rooms look lovely and chic. Well done

  28. Beth M. Downs says:

    Again… too much white. So much could have been done with colour to make a lovely accent wall in each room –or to incorporate a pattern… stencil.. stripes.. or some other visual aspect that would have been far more intriguing and beautiful than all this white. I am not a fan of this “everything white” trend at ALL!

  29. Sue says:

    Nice redo. I am crazy, crazy in love with the large cabinet. The one with the three drawers on bottom, one drawer to the left and I guess it was an open space to the middle and right. Wow that is lovely.

  30. Diana says:

    Peta, I’mn wondering how many square feet? (or meters?) — hard to tell how small it is. I am looking to purchase a small home and am trying to get a sense for what a certain square footage means… thanks (and beautiful job!)

  31. Erica says:

    Hi there. I fell in love with this sofa after seeing it here and haven’t been able to find it on ebay or craigslist. Any other ideas where/how I can find it? If you can find it on ebay, please post a link. Thanks so much.


Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.