Becky’s colourful Christchurch bungalow gives us something to smile about

21 Mar 2019

When Designer Becky Lee purchased her 1956 brick bungalow in Christchurch nearly five years ago, it was essentially a blank canvas with Resene Half Black White throughout the interiors. Being a passionate colour lover, she couldn’t wait to put her own stamp on the house. However, she wanted to be sure she didn’t want to rush into it and overspend on decorating costs.

While she was working her way through her ideas, she developed an appreciation for the crisp white walls and the way they allowed her colourful furnishings and artwork to stand out. It also helped her to see the home with new eyes.

“By this stage, I saw it was a sturdy, humble family home with some sweet decorative touches that I had come to love – for example, the cotton reel cornice and Flemish glass back door,” says Becky.

Those details ultimately became the inspiration for the design and colour palette.

“I started to think about the era of the house and how I could put my spin on that,” says Becky. “Post war 1950s had a positive outlook and the decor was fun and vibrant: a rainbow of eye-popping pastels, pink bathrooms, mid-century modern style, sculptural pieces, exuberant patterned fabrics. My vision started to come into focus and I was able to gradually work my way through the home.”

Black and white checkerboard floors – which were a quintessential feature in 1950s kitchens – are referenced through the use of strong black and white elements throughout. The crisp Resene Half Black White on walls and all trims and ceilings combine with the strong black elements in the kitchen, black blinds and black hardware on the barn door in the lounge. The iconic colours of the 50s; pink, turquoise and mint green play a starring role throughout with my first injection of pink paint being applied to the dining table which Becky Lee hand painted using Resene Smitten in Resene Super Gloss enamel – a durable hardwearing finish that has stood up well to the wear and tear of busy family life.

“The painting of the Resene Smitten dining table was an interesting exercise,” laughs Becky. “I prepped and brush painted it in late summer in my garage, and more than once during the drying period of the final coat on the table top – just when I thought I finally had it perfect – a fly would annoyingly land in it before it had set… and so I’d do it again!”

Do you have a home full of wonderful Resene paint and colour? Send us some snaps by emailing [email protected].

becky lee, resene smitten, pink dining table, painted dining table, colourful dining room, pink

Becky and her Resene Smitten dining table, which she says always makes her visitors smile. The walls, ceilings and trim of her dining area are painted Resene Half Black White.

Next came her sons’ shared bedroom. Old hospital beds that Becky and her siblings slept in as kids received a facelift with a fresh coat of Resene Energise to make them stand out against the complementary Resene Keppel walls.

bedroom, kids bedroom, childrens bedroom, resene keppel, green bedroom, green feature wall

Old hospital beds – which are believed to have come from Oamaru hospital in the 1930s – and the room’s pendant lamp were brightened up with Resene Energise in colourful contrast with the Resene Keppel wall. The ceiling and architraves look crisp in Resene Half Black White.

The brick walls and concrete floor of the conservatory, which had been added to the front door during the 1970s, was updated with Resene St Kilda. Becky then asked surface pattern designer Samantha Elise to design a mural to liven up the space. Samantha had recently returned from Cuba where she had been inspired by the eclectic imperfect tiling everywhere. She designed and hand-painted the stencilled pattern over brick - which was hugely labour intensive and the result is gorgeous.

conservatory, patterned tiles, tiled feature wall, painted tiles, blue floor, blue conservatory

The stenciled tiles in Becky’s conservatory were created and painted by surface pattern designer Samantha Elise. The walls and floor of the room were given a coat of Resene St Kilda before the pattern was created with Resene Blanched Pink, Resene Siesta, Resene Ragamuffin and Resene Mai Tai.

For the comfortable and spacious master bedroom, Becky chose Resene Apache. “Gold is an accent colour that appears in accessories and fabrics throughout the rest of the house, so I wanted to include it in my paint colour scheme. The master bedroom was the natural choice,” says Becky. “The room is on the south side of the house, and the beautiful retro-inspired ochre tone has really warmed the room and frames the ‘Miss Sangria’ artwork by Melissa Sharplin beautifully.”

master bedroom, gold bedroom, yellow bedroom, gold feature wall, ochre bedroom

Becky chose Resene Apache for her master bedroom. She loves the colour for its warmth and the way it complements the artwork. The trim and wardrobe have been painted Resene Half Black White.

The home’s bathroom already had good bones with the previous owners adding a gorgeous grey granite bath surround and vanity top. But with its tiled floor, single glazing and Resene Half Black White walls, Becky says that “it felt like a fridge”. A fresh coat of Resene Sakura added a beautiful warm glow.

“I can most liken the feeling of walking into the room now to the feeling of a really lovely hug!”

bathroom, pink bathroom, green wallpaper, wallpaper hallway, granite bath, granite vanity

Becky’s bathroom shook off its fridge-like feeling with a fresh coat of Resene Sakura. The ceiling and trims were kept neutral in Resene Half Black White.

The lounge, after much deliberation, was the hardest room to settle on a colour for. In the end, Becky went for Resene Rouge. “I chose to use Resene SpaceCote Flat and I love the chalky matte finish it has given to the feature wall. At night, it soaks up the light and becomes moody and luxurious, but during the day it is cheerful and lively! I love how it contrasts with the mid-century inspired turquoise sofa and, in particular, how beautifully it works with the mint green background of ‘Magpie’ – a stunning original canvas work by Melissa Sharplin.”

living room, lounge, pink lounge, pink feature wall, blue sofa, pink and blue, resene rouge

The feature wall in Becky’s lounge looks brilliant in Resene Rouge. The other walls, ceiling and trim frame the space in Resene Half Black White.

The barn door in the lounge was the final piece of the puzzle for that room. “The very first day I moved into the house, I took the solid door that separated the hallway and the lounge off its hinges immediately. It really disrupted the flow of the space,” says Becky.

“I trawled wreckers’ yards looking for an old 1950s front door that was the right size to use as a barn door across that opening. Eventually, I found the perfect one, stripped it, had the old letterbox slot and hardware holes filled and repainted it.” Becky’s dad pitched in to help her partner Phil with the install.

living room, lounge, pink lounge, pink feature wall, blue sofa, pink and blue, resene rouge

The repurposed barn door in Becky’s lounge was given new life in her lounge with a fresh coat of Resene Half Black White to match the trims and ceiling. Becky especially loves the way the Flemish glass panes look against the Resene Rouge feature wall when the door is open. The other walls in the room have also been painted Resene Half Black White.

Artwork definitely plays a big role in Becky’s home design. This passion led her to release her own collection of works in collaboration with artist Anneke Stewart. The pieces feature elaborate photographic arrangements of flowers grown or foraged by Becky along with vintage hand-painted silks and furnishing fabrics presented in Anneke’s signature mandala style. The results are rich kaleidoscopes saturated in colour.

Two pieces of artwork from Becky and Anneke’s collaboration set the tone for these bright and bold rooms. The room on the left is painted Resene Gimblet and the room on the right is in Resene Swiss Caramel.

Their artwork is available for purchase at www.annekestewart.com.

Becky was featured in the Autumn/Winter 2019 issue of habitat by Resene Magazine – available now at your local Resene ColorShop. More of Becky’s work can also be found on her website.

images Becky Lee, Juliet Nicholas

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