How to achieve the wow factor!

Renovation details that are often overlooked

This week we want to sum up all the smaller details that went into our renovation. Many of which are often overlooked. However we believe it’s these details that give our finished product the ‘wow’ factor so I want to share our insights and give anyone who’s renovating a few unique ideas.

Things to do early


As we will continue to say throughout this post one of the most important things to consider when renovating is pre-planning. If you really want the ‘wow’ factor you need think how all the small details will look when the job is finished, before it’s even begun. Here are some examples of the details that we thought about early in the project.

Timber floor to tile junction:  It’s important to consider this junction early in the project if you want your tiles and timber flooring to be flush with each other. You will need to make sure the floor joists under the tiled area are lowered to create a levelled surface.  If you don’t think of this early enough the alternative is a small timber “ramp” which looks terrible but unfortunately seems to be quite common.

Recessed shelves in the shower: Another one to think of early because you want to be able to build them in with your framing. This small detail adds to the convenience of your home allowing space for ample bottles and in the past we’ve even built in leg shaving steps.

The wow factor


Here are some of the details we’ve added to our home which have attracted the most comments.

Recessed lighting: We have installed a LED strip lighting under our vanity shelves, kitchen toe kicks and in the suspended bathroom ceiling. We also have a LED strip for up-lighting on our feature truss which is located on our outdoor patio. None of these lights are visible however that’s why they add an amazing effect.

Sensor lighting: We also have the bathroom lights on a hidden sensor so when you walk into the bathroom the lights under vanity create a soft glow which is great for the middle of the night. The trick is to have all these details decided upon before your pre-wire is done, which can be tricky if your mind isn’t at the finishing details stage yet.

Suspended vanity tops and shelves: We have all our vanity tops and bathroom shelves made from the old Rimu framing throughout the house, which we saved during demolition. They appear to be “floating” from the walls, which is achieved by using big steel rods epoxied into the framing. These rods are installed very early on – well before any wall linings.

Good engineering and defying gravity: On this project we have covered some pretty large spans with our roof framing and our timber feature truss which spans over 10 meters. That is one big truss!  Unfortunately these features take planning, effort and money but are the difference between normal and exceptional. You also notice everything feels a lot bigger and more open without supports everywhere.

Floating furniture: We also have a large Rimu dining table cantilevering off our island bench. This was made with 25 lengths of Rimu framing which were laminated together and held in place by very large steel brackets. The brackets are recessed into the table, runs behind the kitchen cabinetry and then along the joists below the flooring. It may appear unstable and many people have looked at it with cepticism, however after sitting on the end it becomes pretty clear that its actually very strong. This bracket had to be installed before the floor boards so again, forward planning is the key.

Get practical


Indoor – outdoor flow: We really wanted to make the inside and the outside of the house flow together seamlessly. So since we have beautiful heart Matai floors we decided to place some Matai inlays into our outdoor patio concrete. Once these are polished they will match the internal floors perfectly. You don’t get the option to add this later, so it has to be planned out way before its ready.

Plumbing: We asked our plumber to use a larger pipe to feed the house and to run the hot water pipe as directly as possible. This way we can ensure quick delivery of hot water to all of our taps.  We also have a high volume hose tap installed at the front of the house to give us a high pressure wash down hose. So much pressure in fact, that we blew up the large fire hose fitting which we first installed and needed to get a new one.

Electrical switching: To avoid confusion and time trying to figure out which switch does what we’ve only installed one switch for all the lights in each room. In the past larger rooms would’ve had multiple switches however thanks to LED lighting our power consumption is still very economical.

Let's talk kitchens


Bulkheads:  One thing I disliked about many kitchens is the large scribed panels above the cabinetry which meet up with the bulkhead. We prefer to build our bulkhead to millimeter perfect dimensions and then have a negative detail around the cabinets.

Floating kitchen: To add to our floating furniture look, we’ve made the toe kick under our cabinetry continue around the sides of the cabinets rather than the end panel reaching to the floor.

Draws: We have a lot of drawers in the kitchen and none of them have handles so we’ve really made sure that all the recesses line up. We also have a number of internal drawers within our bigger drawers which works great except with something like the cutlery drawer. So to get around that issue we’ve also installed some magnets into the cabinetry which means the secondary drawer opens with the main one via magnetic force. The team at Moda Kitchens were very helpful with working through these details and we highly recommend them.

Rangehood:  Our rangehood is made with the old Rimu sarking from the original walls of the house. It’s important that during the crazy demolition stage of the job you think ahead and recycle any materials which could be used later.

Keeping the character


Matai Flooring: As mentioned previously, we used the Matai flooring from the carpeted areas in the original house to re-lay in the extension. It’s been well worth staggering all the joins when adding to the existing flooring, as nothing looks worse having joins on the same line. As a result no one can see where the original flooring ends and where the re-laid flooring begins.

Doors: When doing a character renovation such as this it can be extremely difficult to source certain materials. For example we simply could not find the door sizes which we needed.  This is the point at which we often we see people compromise by settling with a different style door or just using the closest possible style.  However we believe that these types of finishing details make the difference between average and “wow”. The additional effort of making new doors that are an exact match is well worth it.

Door Hardware: We also had some trouble sourcing our door hardware. We wanted all our door handles, window latches, hinges, door stops, cavity slider handles and so on, to match with each other. We found that it was impossible to source matching cavity slider hardware as none of the products matched our copper and brass theme. So we had to send the hardware away to get it powder coated to match and yes, it was a hassle but it’s worth it when you look at them every day.

Copper & Brass: Similarly we wanted to keep our copper and brass theme throughout the house and avoid using stainless steel. nfortunately our feature truss required large stainless steel brackets for structural reasons. So we had to send the brackets off to get them electroplated with copper. Now our brackets match our copper spouting!