A Dark, Dirty 1980s New Zealand House Is Now a Chic Rustic Cottage

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A living room with a large blue sectional sofa and a round coffee table
Credit: Arianna Wang
Living room

Name: Arianna Wang, husband, two daughters
Location: Hamilton, New Zealand
Type of home: House
Size: 2000 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year 2 months, owned

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Credit: Arianna Wang

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: We are a family of four: me; my husband; and my two daughters, Misty and Mia.

We bought this 1980s house in Dec 2021. It is a traditional Lockwood house. When we bought it, it was like a big sauna room — it had dark wood paneling walls, worn and stained carpet with musty smells, old-fashioned lighting fixtures, and dirty curtains.

The good side about the house is there is a good-size primary bedroom with en suite on the second floor, and it is the only room on the second floor, which we like. It has high-pitched ceilings, it has the wooden cottage feel that I like. And there is a large swimming pool for my daughters. It has four bedrooms, two living areas, best suits our family size, and it has a 1485-square-meter yard, which we loved so much.

Credit: Arianna Wang
Master bedroom

As an interior designer and decorator, I see the potential of this house, so we bought it and started a massive renovation. I am an interior designer and decorator myself; my husband is a very good handyman; my daughters love arts and crafts. We are all excited about our house makeover, and everyone has contributed ideas.

Credit: Arianna Wang
Second floor stair space

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or fewer: Rustic, chic, retro, eclectic, cottage.

What is your favorite room and why? If I have to choose one or two, then the primary bedroom, and living and dining room.

Credit: Arianna Wang
Master bedroom DIY dressing table & storage

I share the primary bedroom with my husband. It is spacious! We use a big king bed and there are still lots of spaces in the room. My husband DIYed a dressing table for me, which is so beautiful and functional; we have a big door-like window by our bed. I designed the primary bedroom en suite bathroom; I mix and matched lots of beautiful tiles, used a new vanity, and a big mirror. I could stay in my bed for a whole day.

Our living room looks out to the decking then to the swimming pool, so we can sit on the blue velvet sofa and watch our kids swimming. The kitchen is my favorite color, sage green, and we have a big dining table to cater sometimes eight guests.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? I am always on the hunt for decoration items for my home, but it is more than enough now.

Credit: Arianna Wang

I have bought two red armchairs from Facebook Marketplace off an old retiring couple; they sold this pair of great-quality armchairs to me for only $100. They are worth $500 each I believe. Now they are sitting in our second lounge; my older daughter will sit in it, watching my little daughter playing piano, and comment like a piano teacher.

Credit: Arianna Wang
Living and Dining room

Any advice for creating a home you love? First of all, a lovely home should function well. Consider the flow of the traffic and buy the right-sized, right-functioning furniture for the right space.

Then bring in any color you love for the accessories — art and greenery is compulsory for any cozy space.

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.
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