Family swap their rural lifestyle for beachside living

Swapping the rural lifestyle in Waipipi for beachside living in Papamoa provided a lifestyle for one family they didn’t know they were looking for. 18 months later and Debbra and Mitchell Sweetman wouldn’t change a thing. 

Along with their three sons Archer (5), Bodin (3) and Vann (2), Debbra and Mitchell left rural Waipipi when Mitchell’s work transferred him to a role in the Bay of Plenty region in late 2017.
Having loved their rural lifestyle, the Sweetman’s naturally thought they’d do the same again, but when the perfect piece of land proved too hard to come by, they widened their search and considered beach living in Papamoa. 

Purchasing a 177 square metre 80’s bach situated across the road from the beach, the Sweetman’s say they wouldn’t change a thing.  

Mitchell, a project Manager in Civil Construction and Debbra, an Interior Designer running The Musing Room, had the ultimate goal of transforming the existing structure into a family home that’s open, inviting and follows the sun. 


Dining room before (left) after (right)

In that time they’ve made serious headway, all while living at the property with their
young boys. From completely reconfiguring the layout of their home, to designing and
installing a new kitchen with new plumbing, to extending the living room and ripping up
90% of the remaining flooring the couple along with transforming the outdoors.

We spoke to Debbra and Mitchell on their renovation journey. 

How long has the process taken? 

We started the process of planning and hiring a builder and architect around Jan 2018, and the non-consented works began in March, consent was issued in June 2018 which took a bit longer than anticipated, but in hindsight, it’s bought us a bit more time to complete it.


Kitchen before

kitchen After


How would you describe your approach to renovating? 

Our approach has been a pretty methodical one. We started by devising an overall plan for the house, ensuring it all flowed together nicely had the right feel.  Getting the floor plan right was really important to future proof the home for when our boys are older. The renovations have been completed room by room with goals established for timelines and budgets. 

We’ve been very hands-on ourselves and undertaken as much as we can on our own while employ trades for work where it’s required, including an architect to draw up plans for the structural changes.


Where do you draw inspiration from? 

For this property, our inspiration has primarily been drawn from our surroundings.  Living across the road from the beach has been a great source of inspiration. I want to create a family home that pays homage to the beach without feeling like a bach.  Light and bright, with natural textures and earthy colours. 

I do a lot of research online but effectively decorate our home with things we love. To me interiors aren’t about filling your home with all the expensive latest trends, it’s about giving it soul and creating a home that reflects the people living in it, one that will grow and change with them – then they will truly appreciate all elements of it.


Archer's room before (left) and after (right

Were there any complexities during the renovations?

Fortunately, we haven’t encountered anything, although some things have definitely taken longer than we anticipated. Installing the ranch slider in the boy’s lounge downstairs was meant to take a few days, but it quickly turned into a job that took close to two weeks.

What are your favourite materials used? 

The Plytech products we used for the benchtop and bookcase ends in the kitchen have definitely been a firm favourite. A small amount of detail to add interest to a predominantly white kitchen. From a more functional perspective, swapping all our windows out for double glazing has paid huge dividends with the warmth and soundproofing of our home.

You can follow the Sweetman's renovation journey on Instagram at @themusingroom.

Bodin's Room

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