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keeping up appearances

From Habitat magazine - issue 31, bathrooms

A pair of heritage bathrooms really clean up.

Refurbishing a heritage bathroom is a labour of love, and not one for the faint of heart. But for those with a passion for restoring older spaces back to their original beauty, and an inspired colour palette to back it up, the results can be sensational.

Lucky for a beachside cottage in Oamaru and a villa in Waiuku, they each found new owners keen to bring them back to life.

The former has a rich history as one of the oldest timber houses in the North Otago area, one that dates all the way back to 1872. Given its age, the homeowners were faced with a big decision: to renovate or start from scratch with a new build. They began drawing up concepts for a new home that would have character features but they kept being drawn back to their original home and what could be done to refurbish the existing property. They turned to designers Annabel Berry and Meghan Nockels of Design Federation to help bring out the best bits of the original home.

A bathroom inspired by the colours of the 1950s
A bathroom inspired by the colours of Kakanui Beach
Pink bathroom: Inspired by the colours of the 1950s, Jane and Pim chose Resene Half Pale Rose for their bathroom walls and Resene Quarter Villa White to refresh the original tongue-and-groove panelling, ceiling and trims. The outside of the restored tub is finished in Resene Pale Prim and the feet are in Resene White.  Blue/green bathroom: The colours of nearby Kakanui Beach inspired the palette in this renovation. The tongue-and-groove panelling is painted in Resene Half Black White beneath walls in Resene Duck Egg Blue. The ceiling, architraves and door are in Resene Eighth Parchment.

“The intention of the design was to combine the historical cottage look with a coastal beach feel,” says Annabel.

“We had two site visits to Kakanui Beach and Campbells Bay to review the main colour cues that inspired our palette. Using the Resene Colour Palette Generator tool, we were able to see from our photographs what paint colours we could use that were directly generated from our surroundings.”

In the bathroom, they went with classic Resene Duck Egg Blue on the walls complemented with crisp Resene Half Black White panelling while Resene Eighth Parchment was used for the doors, architraves and ceiling. The old claw foot bath was original to the home and was restored by a car painter in Oamaru; it has since become a crown jewel of the home.

Over in Waiuku, Jane Thorne and her husband Pim Slagman became enamoured with a century old villa and the couple have been working hard on it ever since they bought it in 2015. They knew that they wanted to embrace the age of the home while sticking to a very tight budget. For them, it meant that most of the restorative labour fell to their shoulders.

“The hours and hours of sanding were one of the biggest challenges, but it was worth it to get the perfect paint finish,” says Jane.

When they began work on the bathroom, Jane discovered the original tub when she found its taps poking out of the wall. It had been completely boxed in by previous owners.

“Curiosity got the better of me and I decided to see what was underneath and began to dismantle the structure. I barely slept that night as I was so excited to discover an enormous claw foot bath underneath!”

“It was in terrible condition, with rust around the drain and rough, peeling paint all over. We had it restored to its former glory by a bath resurfacer and we couldn't be happier with the work.”

Jane says she was inspired by the soft pastels popular in the 1950s, which became the basis of her bathroom palette. She selected Resene Half Pale Rose for the walls with Resene Quarter Villa White for the tongue-and-groove panelling, ceiling, trims and architraves. For the tub, they chose buttery Resene Pale Prim and Resene White for the feet.

To Pim, the newly restored bathroom is grand, spacious and classic with a nod to its heritage. For Jane, the space feels tranquil and has become her favourite room in the house.

Do you have a photo that inspires you? Load it into the free online Resene Colour Palette Generator and it will suggest a palette of Resene colours to help you get started. Try it out at

Top tips for freestanding tubs

Deep and luxurious, freestanding tubs feel timeless in any bathroom. But, before you purchase one, make sure you’ve taken these considerations into account:

Designer (blue bathroom): Annabel Berry and Meghan Nockels, Design Federation
Images: Rachel Wybrow, Jessica Gernat


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