Concept Design & Inspiration for our New Renovation

Some of you may have read that we’ve bought a home here in Wanaka (for those that haven’t got up to speed as yet, you can have a quick read here) so I wanted to share the Concept Interior Design and inspiration for our new renovation with you all, including some of my very recent and quick selections (chosen over the past few days).

We actually weren’t prepared to buy a home so fast, or even ready to do a renovation this soon after just finishing our last one, but given recent events (which I mentioned here), we realised we just needed to get into A HOME. And with zero rentals available this meant buying one – and a beautifully renovated home here was definitely not in our budget! 

In fairness, our new home is not a total shambles as it was built around 2000, but it hasn’t been touched in 20 years. Its got a purple laminate kitchen, dated bathrooms with plastic showers, poorly insulated exterior cladding, and pretty icky carpet. And right now doesn’t smell so good either! 

Since we only have a number of weeks at our short term rental, we need to do as much as we can over the next month or so to make our new home liveable. That means quickly opening up a wall or two, installing new timber flooring and carpet, new paint throughout, re-cladding the exterior and new roof, and renovating at least one bathroom. Thankfully we have an amazing builder (who’s also one of the nicest people) who happened to have a delay on a new project, so is able to help us get the house semi-renovated over the next few months.

Cottonwood & Co - Concept Design and Inspiration for our Wanaka Renovation

For our new homes Concept Design, I was primarily inspired by this image I took here during autumn a little over 2 years ago. Wanaka is really sunny, and thankfully not hemmed in by towering mountains. The colours in the landscape are absolutely spectacular, even in winter. Yellow, red and burnt orange willow trees that line the lake shore; mustard hued hills and speargrass; aqua lake water and mountains with white snowy peaks, and of course lots of green pines and textural foliage are abundant. 

Cottonwood & Co - Concept Design and Inspiration for our Wanaka Renovation

The landscape is actually one of my most reliable sources for interior inspiration, but I also wanted the new scheme to work with our existing furniture, furnishings and art. I’m particularly keen for a warm palette, with bursts of muted colour, especially so with the wood flooring.

Cottonwood & Co - Concept Design and Inspiration for our Wanaka Renovation. Project: Jean Stoffer. Photo: Jenna Borst.
When looking up blue kitchens on Pinterest, I came across this absolute beauty by the extremely talented Jean Stoffer at their Log Cabin project. I love that subdued blue grey cabinetry (JSD’s own in house colour called Sutton Blue) with the warm rustic wood floors, vintage rug, white woodwork, and pops of brass and amber. Gorgeous capture by Jenna Borst.
Cottonwood & Co - Concept Design and Inspiration for our Wanaka Renovation. Project: Jean Stoffer. Photo Jenna Borst.
Jean Stoffer Design / Photo by Jenna Borst
Cottonwood & Co - Concept Design and Inspiration for our Wanaka Renovation. Julianne Hough kitchen. Photo Justin Coit.
More design inspiration is the stunning kitchen of actress Julianne Hough. I have loved this kitchen for years, and I am particularly fond of the honey brown wood floors and brass accents, combined with the most heavenly blue green cabinetry. Design by Jake Arnold. Photo by Justin Coit.

The last couple of days I’ve had to make some quick decisions as we only have a short term rental for a number of weeks, so need to move into our home fairly soon. These initial selections (which I’ve shared with my email subscribers) had to be products that were either in stock, or could be shipped quickly (i.e from Auckland). NZ are experiencing lengthy delays and long lead times for products right now, so my choices were limited, but in some ways that made it easier to choose! Also, having a distinct and clear vision for our renovation, ruled out many options too.

A couple of the selections are our black stain for our exterior cedar cladding, beautiful golden-honey natural oak engineered flooring, sisal carpet, brass tapware, charcoal tumbled floor tiles which will be laid in either a herringbone or brick bond pattern, board and batten cladding throughout, this beautiful Sanderson wallpaper for E’s room, adorable brass wall lights, and a pre-made vanity which is the nicest “off the shelf” vanity I’ve seen in a while.

Cottonwood & Co - Concept Design and Inspiration for our Wanaka Renovation. Project: Jean Stoffer. Photo: Jenna Borst.

Will be sharing more selections next week with my subscribers (so sign up if you want links to sources and to see more of the design), including more lighting, paint colours, another wallpaper selection, our internal doors and hardware, curtain fabric, and our metal fireplace design for the family room!

I’ll also share some walk throughs of the current state of the house on Instagram too – be prepared as there’s a hideous aubergine laminate kitchen involved!!

Nicki xo




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  1. Maryanne Suridge says:

    Hi, I have been reading your story with great interest. We moved from NZ to the Sunshine Coast back in 2007, with our two boys, then aged nine and eleven and our Basset Hound. Like you, we came across and bought a house and enrolled the boys into school. The first few months were a whirl wind of excitement, buying new furniture, vehicles and enjoying the change of lifestyle. We were previously dairy farmers in the Waikato, North Island of NZ. Then I hit a road block and said to my husband, okay, I’m ready to go home now. I think if it wasn’t for the fact that we had purchased a place, we may have packed up and gone back to NZ. But, here we are fourteen years later, still on the coast, the boys now twenty five and twenty three, both have trades and the eldest has bought his first home. It’s not easy moving countries, certainly more so as a family as most importantly you want your children to be happy and that you have made the right decision. We now are hoping to spend some time back in NZ (summer is too humid here😀) once everything settles down. I look forward to following your adventure, good luck, you will have challenging times but it does come right and I have come to realise, that as long as the children have you by their side, they could live anywhere.💕

  2. Emma Vichera says:

    So exciting!!!! I can’t wait to watch another one of your beautiful renovations come to life! This will be the third house I’ve stalked you renovating and watched in awe 🙂 Very excited that you will share some of your decision making and the software you find easiest to use – it’s all too overwhelming for most of us!!!

    1. Haha. Oh thanks Emma! Love that everyone gets so excited by our renovations. This one wasn’t meant to happen so soon AT ALL, but life sure has thrown us all a few curve balls this year so just have to go with the flow. Working on my subscriber list email right now, so stay tuned! x

  3. Michelle Adams says:

    Just like Louise I too have a Nicki crush on your design and style! I’m poised and ready to emulate your style, already eying up that gorgeous wallpaper for our entrance way. Thanks so much for sharing your reno journey, you are appreciated!

    1. Oh Michelle I love hearing that! So happy to share this journey as it’s definitely not the way we had planned but happy and trust it’s all happening as it’s meant to. So fun to share the entire process with everyone too. And how beautiful is that Sanderson wallpaper?! Can’t wait to get it up on the wall. x

  4. As you know I have a huge Nicki crush on everything you do! This is beyond exciting and can’t wait to follow your new renovation, congratulations on your new home purchase!
    Lou xo

    1. Thanks lovely – I really appreciate that. And thank you for always making me giggle hehe. Excited to share more! xo

  5. Wow I can’t wait to follow more of this renovation. Love love love the design you’ve shared so far!

    1. Thank you so much, Audrey. Very kind. xo

  6. Oh my gosh! I was watching your stories on Instagram and saw you bought a home. I felt so guilty that I didn’t know, isn’t that weird. I went back through your posts and was worried I’d skipped over a conversation where you announced it! Anyway I’ve subscribed and I’m onboard for the exciting renovation ahead. Congratulations!! I can’t wait to see your vision come to life. xx

    1. Haha. Oh Bec that’s funny, and don’t worry, you’re not that out of the loop at all! It all happened in the last 10 days, but I only mentioned on my blog this week, and IG stories in the last few days. Haven’t done a main instagram post yet as we’ve only just got access to the house. Sharing most updates with subscribers and on the blog first so you’re in! haha. xo

  7. Rae livesey says:

    Hi can’t wait to see how it all comes togeather for you it’s going to look beautiful have fun doing it all

    1. Thanks Rae. I’m excited to move in as that will help us feel more settled. But definitely fun as I don’t mind a quick reno! Hope you’re keeping well xo

  8. I really love your concept design and can’t wait to see more images as your renovation takes shape!

    1. Thanks Natalie! Excited to share more, and will also be sharing our previous little English-style cottage as well. So lots of lovely content and sources coming up 🙂

  9. Nicki, I love your concept and the inspiration you’ve taken from the beauty all around you. Cannot wait to see your vision become a reality!

    1. Thanks so much, Monique 🙂 Hard to not be inspired I think! ha. So lovely to meet you the other day and looking forward to a play date with the girls. x

  10. Hi Nicki,
    Off on another adventure in lovely Wanaka – we are all watching you with interest. Your concept boards are lovely.
    Re the 8 foot ceilings – have you thought to lift the ceiling in the living areas to give a little more height and interest?
    just a thought….
    best wishes

    1. Thanks Trish. We sure have thought of lifting the ceilings (was one of our first discussions with the builder) however it’s almost impossible without completely replacing the entire roof and trusses, and so entirely cost prohibitive I’m afraid. I was gutted though! Next home. haha.

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