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Creating CoastLab's bold and bright bathrooms

For German-Samoan CoastLab owner Suia Westbrook, it was a 13-year European OE taken after obtaining a Bachelor of Fine Arts that really ignited her passion for colour. “I came across so many amazing people, artists, brands and places, soaking up all the different aesthetics, cultures, sub-cultures and styles, which were anything but beige,” Suia says of her time spent working in the creative scenes of Berlin and London. 

“That’s really when I became more and more attracted to colour and my appreciation for the power of colour combinations grew,” she adds. “The right colours and combinations simply lift my mood and instantly make me happy. There’s a reason there are studies on what colours represent or how they spark different moods – they can be so powerful.” 

It was also in Berlin that Suia began to understand the strength of business collaboration. “After running the events team at a large co-working space/start-up hub, I realised how powerful a great community is and the ecosystem that it organically creates, and the amazing things that result from collaboration.” 

After returning to New Zealand, Suia took the leap two years ago and took over CoastLab, a co-working space, networking hub, business community and event space – all just a two-minute walk from beautiful Ōrewa Beach in Auckland’s north. “What a dream! I now run my own event formats in my own space and bring people together, connect people with other people, ideas and opportunities. Which ultimately is my why,” she explains.

CoastLab Director Suia Westbrook has a long-standing passion for colour and the power of collaboration.
CoastLab is a co-working space, networking hub, business community and event space in Ōrewa.

While the contemporary yet cosy CoastLab space was humming along, there was one missing piece of the puzzle, according to Suia: The drab, dated bathrooms. “They didn’t only need a ‘facelift’, they needed a whole new face!” she laughs.  

Her vision for the new look was, “bold, bright and colourful and to challenge the viewer with their perception and associations of symbols and icons when taken out their original context – creating an exciting place where you least expect it.”

So she enlisted the help of MasterStroke by Resene – plus her good mate and DIY Queen, Georgie – to bring her whimsical wonderland of water closets to life. “I chose Resene because they have the boldest and the funnest colour range, which is perfect for my project.” 

Suia’s partner Artje helped translate her unique design ideas into a visual – which includes sprinkles, peaches, eggs, sausages and a lobster! Suia’s key inspiration for these came from her Instagram feed and the internet. “I love following creative studios, interior designers and people that are bold and not afraid of throwing all of the colours into a space.” 

Suia’s vibrant vision:


Expert advice

Resene Paint Expert Patrick Katoa arrived at just the right time to provide some helpful advice when it came to the technicalities of the paint project. As the renovation is in a bathroom, he recommended using Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen Kitchen & Bathroom, as it’s able to withstand moist areas. Should the colour be unavailable in Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen Kitchen & Bathroom, it’s recommended to use Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen and ask the Resene ColorShop team to add MoulDefender into it for extra protection in wet areas.

As part of the process, he also advised that if there was any mould present, it should be treated prior to painting with Resene Moss & Mould Killer. If there’s no mould, all that’s needed is a good wipe-down with Resene Interior Paintwork Cleaner, before an undercoat of Resene Waterborne Sureseal, followed by two topcoats of Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen Kitchen & Bathroom for the walls. All the doors, trims and architraves were painted in Resene Lustacryl Kitchen & Bathroom and the ceiling was painted with Resene SpaceCote Flat Kitchen & Bathroom.

Flushed with success

Suia and Georgie got to work removing the doors and filling any holes with Resene EzyFill Quick, giving all the surfaces a good sand and wiping away the sanding dust. After that, they applied the carefully chosen, beautifully bold topcoat colours to the walls – Resene Ultramarine, Resene Ballerina, Resene Biloba Flower, Resene Cornflower, Resene Cupid and Resene Spritzer. Then came the icing on the cake – adding hand-painted prints and patterns in more bold colours.

Georgie added some stripes in Resene Havoc over a base colour of Resene Ballerina. Back wall and door frame in Resene Biloba Flower and window in Resene Havoc.
All of the details on the walls were stencilled and hand-painted. Wall in Resene Ultramarine, sprinkles and back wall in Resene Spritzer and egg in Resene Alabaster and Resene Turbo.

While the finished result is a dazzling, one-of-a-kind Candy Land dream, Suia admits there were a few challenges to overcome along the way. “Initially I was extremely ambitious thinking I would only need two weekends to finish, but nine weekends later…” she says. But she couldn’t have done it without Resene. “The whole team was absolutely amazing to work with. So supportive, helpful and patient. Mainly patient.”

As for what she loves most about the finished result? “Honestly, the reaction of someone who hasn’t experienced the bathrooms coming out of the bathrooms. Priceless. They turned out exactly the way I envisioned and I am so happy about it!” 

Suia’s top tips for anyone trying something similar at home:

  • Rope in your friends and family and get some margaritas going – painting is way more fun when doing it together.
  • Make it a communal ‘event’, like a Paint and Sip!
  • Everyone should get themselves a Georgie – she was my golden ticket!

The results:

The new bathrooms are an explosion of bold, whimsical colour. Bathroom door painted in Resene Biloba Flower, wall in Resene Ballerina, sausages in Resene Big Bang, stripes in Resene Ballerina and Resene Havoc, far door and mirror reflection wall in Resene Ultramarine and peaches in Resene Cornflower, Resene Havoc and Resene Spritzer.


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