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This barn renovation is a masterclass in using Resene paints

A barn renovation is no easy feat, but the daunting 7m raked ceilings of this structure were matched by the high ambition of Auckland couple Matt and Amalia.

When they first bought the property, Matt and Amalia had planned to convert the barn – which they describe as “more like a large shed” – into a garage and to build a standalone house on the adjacent land. But on closer inspection of the vintage charms of the old 135sqm pole barn, they started dreaming of creating a very special home built from its frame.

Soon dreams became a reality as the barn was transformed into a four-bedroom, two-storey country home with a mezzanine level. The Resene colour scheme, featuring Resene Ironsand and Resene Double Sea Fog, is the finishing touch on this incredible build.

It was a huge undertaking, and luckily the couple are a DIY dream team. Matt is a professional builder and Amalia is a photographer with an eye for colour and detail, while Matt’s father is an architect. Even with an arsenal of skills at the ready, Amalia admits there were moments where she wondered whether they had bitten off more than they could chew with the barn renovation. Such as when she brought her newborn baby boy Jack (now seven) home from the hospital, shortly after they began the renovations.

“I don’t think the penny really dropped until I had this tiny little baby and we were living in a complete building site,” laughs Amalia. “It wasn’t a nice glamorous building site either, it was like an empty shed with a frame and building paper on the wall. But thankfully, upstairs Matt had built us a really lovely bathroom and ensuite which was our little haven so we could forget the mess downstairs.

“At the beginning, I had to use a drill to open the front door. I came home one day and a possum had come in and made a mess on the floor and I thought, ‘What is going on? What are we doing?’” she adds.

From construction site to country delight! Matt and Amalia's hard work definitely paid off, with the exterior of their home looking fresh in the colour Resene Black White. After photo by Courtney & Co.

The busy couple, who run their own business, worked on their home on weekends, evenings and every spare moment for several years – and also had two more children Maximus (five) and Sadie (two) along the way. 

“Amalia was just awesome, raising three toddlers on a building site while also helping with lots of the work and the painting,” says Matt.

“Matt’s poured his heart and soul into building this house, and I tried to be as helpful as I could,” Amalia adds. “I’ve done a lot of sanding and painting, including the skirtings and the joinery – all in my spare time as I had children running around. One night I painted until 4am just because I wanted to get the job done!”

Matt is a fan of American farmhouse style and Hamptons heritage detailing, so for him there was only one paint suitable for the renovation.

“I love Resene. All the painters I work with in the trade use Resene. I have had some projects where painters have used other brands and have complained about the result. To me, Resene is one of those natural brands I go for with a really big range and I know the colours cover very well,” says Matt.

In the living area, Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen in Resene Double Sea Fog is used on the walls and balustrades to keep the space soft and cosy. Resene Half Alabaster on the trims brightens up the space. Photo by Courtney & Co.
The coffered ceiling painted in Resene Half Alabaster is a feature of the dining area. The back wall is Resene Double Sea Fog and the side wall is Resene Ironsand. Other trims are Resene Half Alabaster. Photo by Courtney & Co.

Matt and Amalia’s barn house is a masterclass in how to use Resene Whites & Neutrals. The couple tested many different shades of white to find the right colours to highlight Matt’s workmanship, which is evident on the exterior and in every room of the home.

“It’s amazing how the colour of whites can change in different lights and at different times of the day,” says Matt.

The exterior of the home is painted with Resene Lumbersider Low Sheen tinted to Resene Black White, a classic white with a hint of black. It’s been Resene’s most popular white for several years running due in part to its ability to work on both heritage and modern builds. 

The walls of the main living area and kitchen are painted with Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen tinted to Resene Double Sea Fog, a soft neutral with a grey undertone. 

“We’ve got shiplap on the walls as well as wainscoting and Resene Double Sea Fog really brings out the different textures,” says Amalia. “The way the light hits it makes it look beautiful, warm and creamy.”

High expectations

For the ceilings, Matt and Amalia used Resene Ceiling Paint, as well as Resene Lustacryl semi-gloss waterborne enamel for the trims such as skirting boards, architraves and scotia. They also took great care choosing the right colour, opting for Resene Half Alabaster for both areas.

“The coffered ceilings were a real labour of love,” says Amalia. “Matt designed and built them all by himself and a lot of time and care went into them. We used Resene Half Alabaster and it’s such a beautiful colour, it really brings out the detailing.

“The main lounge has a 7m stud and it’s all cedar wood. People thought we were mad painting over beautiful cedar but even though the ceiling was high, the dark wood colour gave it quite a closed-in feeling and we wanted the room to feel light and spacious, so we used Resene Half Alabaster again.”

“I got the sprayer out and sprayed the ceiling. It was cool but it did make a bit of a mess. I set up scaffolding and did it all at once, “says Matt.

Resene Ironsand is the perfect colour to highlight the wainscoting on the walls and the salvaged oak feature wall in the media room/study. The ceiling and trim are Resene Half Alabaster. Photo by Courtney & Co.
The couple continued the dark, cosy look in the main bedroom, using Resene Ironsand on the walls and ceiling. Wainscoting in Resene Double Sea Fog. French doors and balcony balustrades in Resene Black White. Photo by Courtney & Co.

Cosy spaces

Charcoal hue Resene Ironsand is another star of the renovation, featuring in the media room/office and the main bedroom. 

“I love white and fresh colours, but I’m not afraid to be dark and moody, so we’ve got a dark grey feature wall with Resene Ironsand in the kitchen and dining area and we’ve used that in other darker rooms in the house too,” says Amalia. 

The brown undertones of Resene Ironsand complement the beautiful oak feature wall, which was built with wood salvaged from a Smith & Caughey’s refit and granite flooring reclaimed from a hotel refurbishment.

“Everything in this house has a story, and that’s what makes it really special,” Amalia adds.

For the children’s bedrooms, the couple chose Resene Green Spring, a youthful green with a hint of grey. The fresh tone is so versatile it works with the pink decor in their daughter’s room, and with the silver bunk in the boys’ room. 

In the guest bedroom, Amalia and Matt dialled up the luxe factor with Resene Museum Wallpaper Collection 307302, a vibrant floral with a classical feel, in tune with the home’s heritage style detailing. 

Resene Green Spring is fresh and vibrant in the boys’ bedroom (left), and calming when paired with Resene Double Sea Fog in Sadie's room (right). Wainscoting and trims in Resene Half Alabaster.
The guest bedroom features Resene Wallpaper Collection 307302, wall in Resene Double Sea Fog, trims and ceiling in Resene Alabaster. Photo by Courtney & Co.

A new chapter

After years of hard work, the couple have now sold their renovated barn and are moving onto their next project. They’ve bought a piece of land where they will build their next dream home from the ground up

“Having three babies while doing up this house has been such a journey and it’s been an adventure for the kids too – it’s all they have known and they have loved it just as much as we have,” says Amalia. “So, we’ve bought a big block of land and we plan to build. Hopefully this time I’m not pregnant and living in a caravan. Actually, maybe I won’t rule out the caravan part!” 

Top tip: Resene SpaceCote is a waterborne paint with enamel style toughness, ideal for broadwall areas. The Eco Choice-approved paint is low VOC and comes in low sheen and flat finishes.

The active family have moved out of their beautiful barn and are getting stuck in to a new DIY project – building a new home from scratch. Wall in Resene Double Sea Fog, door in Resene Ironsand.

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