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personalized photo gifts for her Having a Christmas-ready home was key to this family's revamp sofa pillow covers

A revamp of this Auckland home’;s living areas has a created beautiful blank canvas to showcase the clever owner’s Christmas style

Vanessa, what were the best lessons learned?To never take on a renovation when you are time poor. We started ours the first day of the October school holidays, which is my busiest time work-wise. I don’t think there is ever a good time to undertake a renovation, but I had my heart set on it being done for Christmas so we could enjoy it.

sofa pillow covers

My elder daughter also dislocated her kneecap a few days before the start of the renovation, which meant instead of being away on holiday with her dad and little sister in Rotorua doing fun things, she spent a week on the couch downstairs in the living room with her leg up and the renovation going on around her.

What would you never do again?We would never live through the renovation – next time we’re moving out! We underestimated how much of our house would be taken over with people and mess.

DIY disasters?We had a custom corner shower made for our downstairs bathroom with a shower tray recessed into the floor. The tilers tiled over the edge of the traypersonalized photo gifts for her, which meant the glass and the tiles didn’t line up as they were a few centimetres out. Half the bathroom tiles in and around the shower had to be lifted up, the shower tray re-waterproofed and new tiles laid. This wasted time and money.

What’s one thing you would change about your home if you could?We would love a garage (we only have a carport). Our bikes, garden equipment and other sporting stuff all live under the house. It’s always such a pain getting stuff out and then back in again.

How did your budget compare to your actual spend?We budgeted $100K and it came in at $120K. The kitchen cost $53K including all new appliances: hob, dishwasher, microwave, fridge and oven.

What areas did you splurge on?We invested money into better storage, which has been worth every cent. We also invested in good-quality brands like Miele, Asko and Smeg. The other area we splurged on was floor tiles and wooden floors.

Do you tend to buy high-end homeware or seek out a bargain?I am exposed to amazing brands as a stylist. However, when it comes to buying things for my home it is a mix of high-end and bargains. I would say I am a Country Road Home person. I love their clean lines and the minimal look of their homeware. Over the years I’ve bought some great homeware at Kmart, EziBuy and The Warehouse and mixed them with some of my high-end design pieces – the key is in how you present them in the home.

Best advice when it comes to spending money on a home?Buy what you love, not what you like for now. I used to change things up in my home frequently (normally cheaper accessories and cushions) but since the renovation I have only had a few things out on display. I know the design pieces I have bought will be in the home for some time now.

How did you keep track of costs?We worked out a rough budget per room. I got several quotes so we had a clear idea where we needed to tweak. We did go over budget, but it was all on things we could not have foreseen, eg rot behind the bathroom walls and a new meter board needed to cater for our new hob.

Words by: Catherine Steel. Photography by: Melanie Jenkins.

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Take a theme from your decor and repeat it in your Christmas styling,

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The splashback was one of the few on-trend pieces Vanessa chose for the kitchen, knowing that if she wanted a change in the future it would be a small area to replace.

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Greenery at Christmas is always a stunning option and it can also be used in your table setting.

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Preparing her home for the festive season has always come naturally to Vanessa Nouwens, an Auckland stylist and designer

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The girls are more into Christmas baking more than decorating at the moment.

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If flowers aren’t your thing, get some pine branches and place them in a beautiful vase as a centrepiece. Greenery at Christmas is always a stunning option and it can also be used in your table setting.

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Vanessa’s home office occupies one end of the living room.

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Surfer girl Madison opted for a calming pale blue in her bedroom

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Fresh blues mingle with grey in the main bedroom’s bedlinen from Adairs.

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Take a theme from your decor and repeat it in your Christmas styling,

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Younger sister Chloe chose a dusky rose mixed with copper. Fresh blues mingle with grey in the main bedroom’s bedlinen from Adairs.

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Over the years Vannesa has?bought some great homeware at Kmart, EziBuy and The Warehouse and mixed them with some of my high-end design pieces.

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Branches and dainty reindeer bring a Scandinavian feel to the home, enhanced by the interior’s monochrome palette. Vanessa’s home office occupies one end of the living room.

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The String shelving unit in the living room is from Auckland’s Bob and Friends. Its modular design can be constantly changed, depending on what you would like displayed.

Create a blank book that can be filled with recipes along the way or fill it up as you go with recipes that are close to your heart. ?Add envelopes and little bags to hold copies of recipes, little notes or a favorite memory.

Today's faux fur gives you the luxurious look and feel of real fur at a fraction of the price and without harming any animals. And, because of recent improvements in fabric manufacturing, it comes in an amazing array of rich colors and lush textures. It truly starts out beautiful on the bolt. But if you treat faux fur like regular fabric, your project can end up looking like a bad haircut.

We have a emotions changing octopus ready for you! This paper cup octopus craft will need a bit of parental (or teacher) help in one step but it is a great crafty activity for kids to make and play with.