Retro Renovation: Diary of Our DIY kitchen

Around a year ago, we began the renovation of the last remaining space in our 3 bedroom, 70s something slice of West Auckland suburbia. Exciting for the designer and retro enthusiast me, relief for the side of me that can’t stand being in a space that doesn’t feel “good” … a nightmare for the part of me that hates mess, things that are unfinished and delayed gratification. Of course, my favourite part of the process was going to be planning and sourcing the design touches that would make our new kitchen not just practical and efficient, but also a beautiful and inspiring space to be in, with plenty of colour and retro personality! But first, we needed to take care of the practical stuff – as this was a real “DIY” project… so no designer, project manager, contractors or labourers for us. Just me and the hubby – and luckily for us – my amazing Dad. Builder, DIY expert, and both solver of interesting problems and voice of common sense … when faced with some of my more challenging ideas! Keeping it close to home, my brother (who is also a builder) as well as some good friends in other trades gave their advice, expertise, weekends and trade discounts!

The existing kitchen was not very old, it was a kitset that had been put in by the previous owners shortly before we bought the house 5 years ago, in 2009. Unfortunately, like many of the existing DIY “features”, it just begged the question “WHYYYY???”. But, since it was hardly decrepit, it came last on the list. As the rest of the house came along, the kitchen stuck out more and more as completely lacking a single redeeming feature – here were some of our major complaints…
problems and fixes


Design details, and some head scratching

The original plan was to retain some of the existing cabinet bases and work from there. Once I sat down and began drawing out some basic ideas, it soon became clear that there wasn’t a single part of the old kitchen that worked for us! So our “remodel” quickly became completely gutting the space and starting from scratch, with some serious rethink on budget! The good thing about this is I could really think about the best use of the space for us, without working around existing fixtures. That being said, we did have some major constraints! Budget, being a huge one. We wanted a custom kitchen, with high quality finishing and details, without the designer price tag. We wanted to strike a balance between a beautiful kitchen that we would be using for at least the next few years, and over capitalising. Size – our entire home is less than 100 square metres, maximising space is a big issue. Resale was also a consideration, which is why we decided on a modern and neutral kitchen “base” (cabinets, flooring, appliances), with our personal style brought out in less permanent features – retro wallpaper and backsplash, vintage cabinet pulls and timber open shelving and hanging pot rack to display attractive and useful pieces of vintage kitchenware! And, I was not going to be budged on my 50s diner style breakfast bar… despite the many objections and obstacles that arose! Let’s just say I am a dog with a bone when it comes to some of my ideas…

Getting Stuck In

It’s easy to watch shows like The Block, or look at awesome DIY kitchen ideas in home and interior magazines and get some serious inspiration! I’m a guilty as the next person 🙂 What is not so obvious, is that serious projects like kitchens, do not really happen in days, or even weeks – unless you have an army of contractors, a big budget, or both!


Building cabinets in the living room, outside “kitchen” facilities, washing dishes in the shower (efficiency!)… all part of the fun!

In our case, it was 3 months before we had a functioning kitchen again, 7 months until the bulk of the work was done, and 9 months on… there are just a few details left to complete, plus the laundry.

Clearly, any of the custom design kitchen places were outside our budget. We looked at many different sources of DIY flatpack kitchens and decided on U Du It [link]. For a similar price to flat pack kitchens from Bunnings and Mitre10, of far superior quality and with an excellent online ordering system that allows for many customisable cabinet sizes. Seriously can’t recommend these guys highly enough for the real DIYer!uduit

Of course, even with a name like U Du It… it didn’t quite sink in until our brand new kitchen arrived on a truck… on a pallet. And in our case, the “U-Du-It” started from the get go. With getting the pallet off the truck, which couldn’t reverse up our steep driveway. Luckily, Dad was on hand with a tow rope and his 4WD truck, and combined with some muscle power from my husband, our kitchen made it into the driveway. Which is when the fun of flat pack really began…

The Transformation (Progress So Far)20150817_092321(0)

It is really hard to believe this is the same space! It has been a long journey, but so rewarding to see all these bits and pieces that only existed in my mind before, come together into this wonderful and practical family centre. I am even becoming inspired once again to use my kitchen for cooking! Gasp!

after 2 after120150817_092335

Wallpaper – Sanderson “Mobiles” (Sourced from Wallpaper Direct, UK)
Handles – Bakelite and chrome 50s deadstock – sourced from USA through Etsy
Pot rack – JK Adams – Amazon
Subway tiles – Mitre 10
Atomic clock (reproduction) – Nood
Custom formica bar counter and diner stool – American Retro

Although, at this time, there are still a few things left to do:
Floating timber open shelves above rangehood and door
Tile grouting
Broom cupboard (currently a wall concealing a dead space behind!)
Put up red gloss perspex “white board” as end panel on appliance garage
Appliance garage door

before and after

One of the biggest pieces of advice I can pass on is don’t skimp on the planning! It’s all to easy to get caught up on colour schemes, cool ideas on Pinterest, matching canisters… but hold those thoughts and sit down, visualise, brainstorm ALL the ways you are going to use your kitchen. What do you do most, or least? Where is EVERYTHING going to live? What things do you struggle to put away or store currently, and what would help? For example – my new kitchen contains almost no cupboards. Almost entirely drawers! For me, cupboards become a blackhole of junk so I love drawers. Which might drive someone else batty. Do you have a busy household? Think about ways to keep the benchtop clear of clutter and appliances so several people can use the space together. If you have lovely vintage items to display, incorporate open cupboards or shelving into your design. Consider vertical spaces – a wall mounted or small ceiling mounted pot rack can fit into almost any kitchen, above doorways are a perfect place for a narrow display shelf, Wall mounted magnetic knife racks, utensil racks and even cookbook racks make clever use of space.

Also, be prepared for everything to be harder and take longer than you expect! You might not get there the way you had planned, but you will get there!

Next project to be finished is the laundry room! Then we can start over at the beginning again!

Pinups for Dummies: A partner’s guide to decoding the pinup in their life…


So this is a post for the guys (or gals) who are lucky enough to share their home and lives10403961_10152433422266973_5894625068145545236_o with a vintage loving lady. These strong, unique and fabulous women can, however, possess a certain number of initially puzzling habits and seemingly challenging characteristics. So find here a beginner’s guide to understanding and happily co-existing with the special kind of woman known as a “pinup girl” . As the old saying going “Happy wife, happy life!”… right?

Strange Habits

Sometimes the pinup in your life may do some strange and even painful looking things… like this..


Well maybe not this scary…


Much more typical


This is normal! (Mostly)

You may also encounter this…


Don’t worry, it won’t look like this when it’s finished!
And sometimes this…


(Photo-Lucy’s Corsetry)

No, it doesn’t hurt, and yes, it would be easier if you helped!

There is a thing called a hair rat. And no, you don’t want to see it. When putting on vintage shapewear she may look like she is trying to wrestle with her inner demons (literally) but once shapewear has been installed it is quite stable. Although even though she professes it is “absolutely comfortable”, you may need to be of assistance during an outing (especially if food and beer is involved) with removing this item of ultra comfort double quick.

In Her World

  • Appreciate that hair, makeup and outfit styling is not just trying to “look fancy”, it’s an interest, skill, and hobby. Just like sports. Or playing music. Or model trains. Or whatever floats YOUR boat 🙂
  • So at a stretch, you could compare mastering a new vintage hair style to say… winning a game. There is a thrill of accomplishment there!
  • It’s natural to want to share and discuss things with people of similar interests… and you may share the vintage and rockabilly love… or not (don’t worry, she loves you anyway 😉 ) But she may enjoy connecting with others with similar interests on social media!. Unless she won’t leave her media device to eat and sleep, this probably normal!
  • There is this very real dilemma of shoes that compliment an outfit perfectly and make her pins looks ultra svelte, and shoes she can actually walk and dance in. She will almost always choose the former. And it is very unlikely that spare flats will fit in her coordinating handbag. Be patient, walk slowly, and make sure you have a taxi number on speed dial.

Do These Things to Get Extra Points

  • Offer to zip/unzip your lady’s dress (Who wants to admit they can’t pee without help?)
  • Ditto with helping clip stockings
  • Learn the difference between eyeliner and mascara. If you are REALLY brave, you could get a glimpse of the skill required to use such tools of the trade, like these guys

Accept The Things I Cannot Not Change

  • Some things will never be equal. Like closet space. And time spent getting ready.
  • Accept that she needs much much much space for her “collection” of dresses, accessories, shoes, handbags and many other items the purpose of which may confuse you. A “Ward-room” is ideal for this!

This will do… (Adrien’s Closet, Style by Gage)

  • Even the best lipstick will transfer, think of that lippy on your face and clothing as little “stamps of love”
  • No matter how many clothes she has, there will come times when she has “nothing to wear”
  • If she asks you “do like this… or this better?”… Don’t say “both” or “yes”. Just choose!
  • But of course, don’t be offended when she inevitably chooses the other. It’s not you. Sometimes making a decision is hard, and one needs a little extra data to go on. Or even just a human sounding board…
  • Such a creative person may be taken by fits of inspiration and be known to make messes of epic proportions…

It May Be A Good Idea To

  • Tell her she looks nice! Whether it’s casual and natural, or glammed up, your ladies’ style is part of her creative expression. It doesn’t matter if you have said it a million times before. It still feels just as wonderful, promise. You don’t have to be an expert in vintage fashion, just notice.
  • Get 2 bathrooms. Actually maybe just a bigger house.

I hope you enjoyed this post, I would love to hear what your advice would be! And please comment with any funny stories, those are my favourite!

Lorelei Louise xx



WIN a Hollywood Glamour Photoshoot and Makeover!

I am so very excited to be sharing this amazing opportunity to be won by one of you beautiful ladies!

Recently, I did a film noir styled photoshoot with the lovely Rosemary Morris of – blog post here.

LL04 (1024x733)My makeup look was created by the very talented Katy of Bella Rouge Makeup.

Katy has also done a vintage style shoot with Rosemary, here are a few fabulous shots from that! (H&MU by Katy)

13094_10152724045482036_801701521425581192_n 10557155_10152724090452036_3435672523505746187_n

We had such fun working together that we’ve decided to team up again, and do a photo shoot starring none other but … the lucky winner of this competition! AND not only that, the winner will also get to wear a selection of fabulous outfits from the treasure trove of Tock Tick Vintage!

The package will include:

  • A  film noir styled photoshoot with Rosemary Morris at their West Auckland based studio (approx 1 1/2 hours plus time for H&MU and styling) and including 6 high resolution edited images
  • Professional makeup by Katy of Bella Rouge Makeup
  • If desired – vintage hairstyle by Katy and myself
  • Wardrobe and styling by myself and La Vonne of Tock Tick Vintage

How to Enter: (SO EASY!)
Just click on the below link!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Visit the pages of each of the wonderful collaborators in this giveaway, like or comment as desired. For bonus entries, comment on this blog post with which old Hollywood starlet would be your inspiration if you won this amazing prize! Yes, you can think of more than one, and tell me why they inspire you!

I can’t wait to find out who the winner will be and be a part of helping them create some beautiful images!

Lorelei Louise xx

Terms and Conditions:
Winner will be chosen at random
Winner must be available to be at the studio on a date to be mutually agreed on by all parties, for styling, hair and makeup and the photoshoot (So Auckland region based ladies only please, unless you are willing to travel at your own expense!)
Winner will send their measurements, so correct sized clothing choices can be chosen.
Winner agrees that all images resulting can be used for promotional purposes.