Makeover: The living room

S  o long green carpet, yellow walls and life on beanbags…

As I write this, I feel nostalgic like I should miss that ‘before phase’ just a little and because I’m sentimental I do but then I look at what we’ve achieved and I see something fresh, new and altogether restful and I wouldn’t go back.

If you’ve been following along for the ride that is the ‘first phase’ reno (as in, these changes aren’t forever but they are for right now), you’ll know that the space we live in is a little unconventional and perhaps even a little confusing.

So to give you some perspective, our house is shaped like a V, with rooms on either side of the V. Like any big project with limited funds and unlimited areas for improvement you have to decide what you can live with until you can afford to do more. From the day we moved in we knew that we could conserve power, heat and headaches by living on one side of the V and so that is what we’ve done. Yes we’ve had to split our lounge in half to accommodate a master bedroom but it works and with a huuuge fireplace smack bang in the middle, it always felt like two (open) rooms instead of one!

The point is, this weird but practical configuration works for us right now and we’ve made it work even better by allowing these spaces to look and feel like the spaces we need them to be.

So rambling aside, allow myself to introduce you to the space formerly known as the dining/anything room and now simply known as…

….the living and dining room



The couch was a bargain of a Trade Me find that has been reworked. The artwork is by Samantha Totty. The indonesian mushroom stool (not in shot) that I used as a side table was purchased from Indie Home Collective . The vase to the right was a Trade Me find. The two Akari pendant lights above the living area are by Isamu Noguchi.


I am a fan of mismatched seating. I think it adds personality and a point of difference especially in neutral spaces. These two chairs are sculptural yet surprisingly comfortable and both are secondhand finds. The cane chair was the splurge, a 1960s gem that required some serious groundwork and perseverance to find. The second piece is the ‘C’ chair, an NZ design classic by Forma. It is a little worse for wear right now so I will need to save up to get it reupholstered. The round coffee table is the one piece that has followed us from our old house. Originally purchased from Trademe and we’ve found the round shape to be incredibly easy to live with, with an energetic toddler. I love faded rugs, where the pattern is all but a distant memory and the only thing left is an imperfectly perfect colour. This is a vintage Oushak rug purchased from VinArtStore (speedy shipping, great pricing and he even throws in the sweetest little kilim gifts.) 


The dining table was a dream find on Trade Me (by dream find I mean it had been haphazardly thrown into a strange category with hard-to-identify pictures but I knew what it was ;-)) . This G-Plan beauty is a 4 seater that expands to a 6 seater. I stripped off the varnish and had the chairs reupholstered by my hometown fave Janine of Nene’s Upholstery. The semi circle wooden candleholder was purchased from another fave, stylist Blackbird Gem’s preloved page blackbirdpreloved and I used it as a vase with Sophoria from another gorgeous soul Laura Jeffares Hair and Floral Artisan . The light was an Ebay find that I can no longer find, but I will put it here when I do.


Despite the simplicity of this lounge, we are at times partial to a bit of tv-watching. Like most people I’m not a fan of having a tv dominate the room so for this reason and the fact that our tv was too big for the wall we created this sliding plywood wall/cabinet to hide it. The cavity is incredibly narrow but I wanted to use it for storage if possible, so we reworked some Ikea Stall shoe cabinets and now it serves as a handy place to put Costa’s books, remotes, magazines and whatever else. Still need to paint the skirting and put capping over the cords but hey?!


I  have learned that keeping anything precious at a low level is a toddler’s dream and a parent’s nightmare. The sideboard was a nice way to add storage and house a few of my current faves. The sideboard was sourced via Trade Me and the items in order (L to R) are: Ikebana vase from Trade Me, floral arrangement was created for the vase by Here Among The Wild. The framed print was purchased  from Endemic World. It is called the Female Gaze Croquis by Carmel of George Sand Studio . The wooden fruit and large fan were purchased from a lovely IG-er who has since left the platform but thank you for your wonderful wares Along Came Wolf . The vase is via Trade Me.

Before/After – Sofa

  • Before-sofa
    Before sofa After


I scored the couch for $10 on Trade Me. It sounds like a good deal but look at the before picture from the listing. Crikey!! We only kept the frame and put time and $$ into completely stripping it back and reupholstering. It still worked out to be really good buying as opposed to buying this style of couch new.

Before/After – Room

  • Before-brick
    Before brick After


And that friends, is the lounge. I’m sure you have guessed by now that I like to mix secondhand finds with new finds in my spaces. Alternatively I like to rework secondhand pieces by having them reupholstered or by sanding them back or in some instances even painting them. I love how much personality and uniqueness they bring to a home and I will always be attracted to the ‘thrill of the find’. I also find myself more and more drawn to soft colour palettes in this home. The imposing wood ceiling in our living area has a little bit to do with it but mostly I just find that I gain a lot more peace and clarity in soft earthy spaces…

Thanks for tuning in and watch this space for more updates on the home front…


Erena Te Paa sig

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  1. Helen Curtin
    October 9, 2017 / 9:02 am

    you have a great neutral colour palette which is nice and I like the textures you have used, especially the couch

  2. October 9, 2017 / 11:11 am

    So beautiful! The TV cabinet is pure genius! And I completely agree, second hand pieces make a space… I find that without them a room has no spark and often feels flat. Hunting them down is the best!

  3. October 9, 2017 / 9:12 pm

    Wow you’re a magician! Love the TV cabinet idea, and so fresh, bright and beautiful. Love the before and after effect too. That sofa budget though, you’re a genius Erena xxx

  4. Maia
    October 11, 2017 / 6:42 pm

    Love the table and chairs, and the light above it is exactly what I’ve been looking for my bedroom. Was so exited to hear where you got it from. Shame you can’t find it anymore. What would you call this type of pendant light? (See if I can google something similar ☺️). Thanks

  5. October 15, 2017 / 12:00 am

    Thanks Maia! I’ll put the link up if a new listing comes up. Annoyingly I wanted to direct people to a maker in France (on Etsy) who makes these kinds of shades (really reasonably priced) but it seems Etsy makers don’t stick around long and her shop is now non-existant 🙁 If I can’t Trade Me it, Etsy or Ebay are generally where I look next (but their harder to search and obviously less local) x

  6. October 15, 2017 / 12:01 am

    You’re so lovely my friend! I just find the before and after so hilarious and the best way to show how far we’ve come! As for the rest (where there’s a will…) Thanks beautiful xxx

  7. October 15, 2017 / 12:03 am

    Who knew, that the fact that our TV was too big for that wall would give way to the TV cabinet idea..our own secret hiding place! AS for the second hand pieces making a room, yes yes and yes! xx

  8. October 15, 2017 / 12:05 am

    Hi Helen, thanks so much, a natural palette is my favourite palette to live in (and wear!) The textural touches help to give what can sometimes seem a little too muted, a little more oomph! x

  9. Kate
    September 27, 2018 / 10:13 pm

    What a gorgeous room! Can I ask what colour the floor is painted?

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