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Heart and soul

Dave and Paeata Cotter moved into their Grace Road home in 2016, with son Mikey age 11, and their pug dog Spencer. They knew the 1940s home had already been half-renovated, but needed the southern wing and landscaping to be completed.



The 280m2 house on the 1280m2 section has three levels, with the bedroom wing a split-level from the rest of the house.

The main living areas, comprising kitchen, scullery, dining, lounge, bathroom, laundry, and television den; had already undergone a tasteful renovation by the previous owners.

The pleasing aesthetics retain some of the old look, such as the original rimu floorboards, as well as new features like the double-glazed slider doors that open out to the pool area.

Brad Jones from Jones Builders was contracted to complete the remaining internal renovation. Featuring unusual triangular shapes, the wing has now been transformed into five bedrooms, an office nook and a bathroom.

“We had to put in some walls, and think about angles,” says Paeata. “It wasn’t a square so you weren’t dealing with a box room.”

A new vanity and shower went into the downstairs bathroom, complemented by blue patterned lino. Nearby, an old wooden writing desk is well-lit by the surface mount lights overhead.

On removing the ceiling, exposed dark rimu beams were discovered. Now painted white, with inset ply, the featured holes from the original wiring continue to tell the story of the house.

The three downstairs bedrooms had their triangular space resolved by adding wardrobes. Light and airy, the rooms feature furniture both new and old, op-shop buys, family heirlooms, and some upcycled and retro. The white and black theme has quirky fun elements with delightful colour shots of mandarin, golds, and greens.

Upstairs, again -  the interesting angles.

“It was previously a large games room,” says Paeata. “We’ve created the master bedroom, our son’s bedroom, and an office nook.”

Mikey’s room has new white sliding doors, defining a walk-in wardrobe while resolving the triangle shape.

The master bedroom features stunning dark floral mural, a design inspired by the Dutch Golden Age, adds a touch of drama to the master bedroom. Tucked behind is the walk-thru wardrobe from NZ Wardrobes, cleverly concealing ample space.

Above the bed, a brass chandelier is charming, adding to the whimsy that captures the relaxed soul of these rooms.

There’s a sustained flow of colour from the bedroom wing back to the formal heart of the home. The daubs of orange dissolve into the muted colours that characterise the lounge, where Paeata has painted one wall a restrained brown. Her favourite piece is the ladder in the corner.

“It was under our last house – a 1854 pioneer’s cottage in Devonport. I saw it and thought ‘perfect!’”

Large windows perfectly frame the outdoor view onto the front garden, which the couple have also landscaped.

The driveway, once tarseal, is now exposed aggregate, giving a decorative finish. Extending through the white gates to the front entrance steps, the driveway provides a pleasant path verged by lawn and pebbles.

The three-pillared white wooden veranda feature, repeated in the poolside house renovation, is again cleverly hinted at in the white powder-coated aluminium furniture that Paeata has placed near the outdoor fireplace.



Her garden, softly sculptured, formal and relaxed, is a casual elegance of subtropical, box hedging, pavers, and palms.

“It doesn’t have to be a completely formal or completely subtropical garden, you can mix it up,” says Paeata. “It’s taken me a few gardens to get it right.”

The impressive and welcoming front entrance has steps edged with well-selected plants and topped with two grey pots. Nearby a previously deadened area has received a dramatic uplift with paving and low planting.

There are fairy magnolias – a new hybrid; gardenias, corokia hedging, mini hydrangeas, camellias, broad-leafed strelitzia, and a variety of hibiscus.

The karaka beak is a white one, not as common as the native red, and still to flower in its new setting. The high-yielding fig tree nearby rises above the roadside fence and bark mulch garden, which is bordered by ponga logs.

Long enough for a cricket pitch or petanque, the well-tended lawn magnificently enhances the overall frontage.

The brilliant mandevilla vine advancing across the wall adds tropical flair, with a door leading through to the pool area. The kwila hardwood deck, graced with tall fluted black pots of frangipani and pink flamingos, extends around the house. This beautifully defined space has a sense of quiet seclusion, enhanced by the subtropical flavour, with palms, hibiscus, and an outdoor shower.

The pool, an original 1980s concrete pool, needed upgrading. Andrew Newitt from The Pool Company, based in Tauranga, applied ecoFINISH (a high performance thermal plastic coating), eliminating the traditional plaster and paint coating shortcomings.

A corner garden has been lushly planted with a tall Brazilian fern tree, a banana, and a multi-trunk bungalow palm. Complemented by adjacent black and white seating, the tall palms add to the sense of privacy.

“It’s been a lot of work over the two years,” says Paeata. “The front landscaping, the driveway, sealing the pool, and the rock wall all done by hand. The under-planting and trees.”

The outstanding results speak for themselves.