before and after

before & after: small home redo

by Kate Pruitt

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

Suggested For You


  • LOVE the idea of using hanging bulb pendants for the hallway instead of regualar scones. I bet it looks amazing lit at night and adds a lot of dimension to the space.

  • So great …. And well done! (gives me steam to do mine – thank you for sharing :) )

  • Best before and after day ever! So simple yet such a big impact. The white is the perfect backdrop for all those gorgeous vintage finds.

    Anyone can hire a designer and have their space redesigned, but it takes a good eye and a lot of work to be able to do-it-yourself on a budget. Well done!

  • I don’t like to be negative but this space, with a few exceptions, is a very sterile, dreary look. I am so tired of bleached-out totally white interiors.

  • The flooring looks great! Not keen on the complete whitewash of the walls, though. The wallpaper looked dingy and had to be dealt with, but not convinced that was the solution.

  • I absolutely love the bedspread in the last bedroom shown! Does anyone know where it’s from? The bright colors and black pattern look fantastic in an all bright-white room.

  • I think the the wooden doors look more like hollow-core 70’s cheap pieces. Don’t think they covered up anything beautiful. I love the white!

  • What a lovely home you’ve created! I love the warmth your teak pieces add to the space. Great job!

  • So clean and airy and un-stuffy!! I have coveted that dining table set in the living room forever. How about a trade for the promise of my first born? I jest. Maybe.

  • I’m a sucker for that crochet blanket. The white theme suggests that it’s new and not vintage. I think that blanket needs a starring role somehow….maybe hanging behind the bed as a faux headboard of sorts? I’d mount it on something so it would stretch out….but the blanket is truly darling, is it made by hand?

  • Big fan of this redo. The white is so crisp and their taste in brightly colored accents is perfect. Well done!

  • I love the framed pictures of the gray pear and yellow apple with faces. What are they and where can I find them?

  • Gorgeous! I love the before and after photos of the hallway, what a difference white paint can make. Lisa

  • Thanks for the feedback on my wee white house! I love my little space, and I do understand those of you that are over the whitewashed look :) it makes me happy though.

    Sofia is right, the wood work was nasty, and no amount of attempting to restore it would save it.

    Jeanette, the couch is actually surprisingly comfy, and with cushions against the arms it’s totally nappable. Definitely not a family couch though!

    ACAKESTORY – I love it too! Someone scratched it the other day though and covered it up with books! I’m a little bummed, but hopefully it’s nothing a light sand and re-oil won’t fix

  • Man, you have really transformed an ugly space into a supremely beautiful one. Looks fresh, full of life and uplifting. Congratulations.

  • this is seriously beautiful! the before pictures look like so many yucky houses i saw while househunting recently, makes me wish i had opened my mind a little to the transformative powers of paint!

  • Sorry, I missed these questions earlier…

    Helen, the bedspread was from Urban Outfitters about a year ago. They don’t seem to stock it any more, but they have some with a similar effect

    MB@YARNUIPHONEAPPV2.5 My mum made it for me. Sometimes I open it out over the bed for more of an effect. your faux headboard idea is cool, but I need it to keep me warm too! Winter is pretty chilly here at the moment :)

  • such a beautiful, refreshing space – i love it! and I love the fact that you didn’t strip but painted over the wallpaper and ended up with such lovely patterns. you can sort of see them in the photos. i would never have thought of that, but shall tuck it into the back of my mind for the future!!

  • WOW! They really modernized the place up and I love it. I’m a HUGE fan of white walls because light seems to bounce off of them. I love all their vintage furnitures too.

  • I love this! White is so simple, clean and makes a great back drop for showcasing your lovely furniture and things. But what I’m really coveting is that sofa! Love those arms. Any idea on the make? Looks vintage…

  • my favourite ever redo! I LOVE this :) Peta has shown great respect for the heritage of the house whilst still making it super cool.

  • Sterile, Lydia?I don’t think so!I am not a huge fan of all white interiors, but whenever I visit this wee white house I can’t resist wandering through it , just to absorb the cute quirkiness of each room.The white background only serves to emphasise the appeal of petas colourful art and textile choices.

  • can’t go wrong with white – it adds light, space, a haze of fresh breath, it makes me smile – and perfectly combined with some strong colours – glorious floors – we also uncovered 90yr old parquet floors under wall-to-wall carpets!!! BRAVO; well done and what a good advice of you to DO IT ALL N.O.W….. We had to do one room after the other and we lived on a building site forever and a day!

  • Fresh, white paint and wide-plank wood floors made all the difference in this beautiful space! I love the accents of color in each room that pop even more than usual in contrast to all of the white. I was sad to see the wood cabinet/closet in the hallway painted over because it looked like it was in good condition and had a beautiful golden tone that would have worked with the floors and the white everything else, but perhaps the photo was deceiving and they weren’t that nice.

  • thanks for the kind words about my little space :)

    For those that asked about art work, here are some of the sources

    Boy and Fish – Nooga (local NZ artist)
    Apple and Pear – Fine Little Day
    Mountain with Pink Spot – Katty Bouthier
    Fawn Photo Print – Steve Wall http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevewall/173951932/in/set-72157594187279701
    Guest room girls and bedroom tapestry – Vintage
    Girl in Field – My own from an editorial assignment (she is covering up a hole and is due to be moved when I frame the piece I have thats meant for that space)

    Couch Cushions (Small) – Skinny Laminx
    Large cushions – my mum

    I also put some out-takes up on my blog incase anyone wanted to see the detail photos – http://weewhitehouse.com/2012/08/wee-white-house-on-designsponge/

    Cecilia – Yes, I just painted the wallpaper with plush rollers, it was actually super easy and the most fun part of the renovation

    Sarah P – Yes, the sofa is vintage. It’s a NZ make, called Morgan. But they were very popular everywhere in that time period. A search on ebay for Danish modern sofa returns a lot of hits. They fold down to a reasonably comfortable overnight bed too :)

  • Yes, I love the subtle pattern of the textured wallpaper under the white paint. It makes me want to install textured paper just so I can paint over it :)

  • 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!).

  • 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.

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

  • 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!

  • 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.

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

  • 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!

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

  • 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!!!

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

  • 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!

  • 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!

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

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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!)

  • 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.