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Holidaying at home in The Coastal Abode


The fact they met while both working at the Bunnings store in Kotara, should have been a hint at what was to come for seasoned renovators Kristen and Adam Tiananga.

Fast-forward more than a decade and the Belmont-based couple is adding the final touches to their fourth home restoration.

Having transformed properties in Belmont, Warners Bay and East Maitland, they are now sharing their journey from dark and drab to cool and coastal, with followers via their The Coastal Abode Instagram account.

Kristen, a full-time Lake Macquarie primary school teacher, and Adam, her project manager husband, are quickly becoming a go-to resource for other like-minded flippers in the Hunter.

“That wasn’t the plan originally. We were just keeping a visual diary for ourselves to look back on. When you’re in the thick of it, it’s very motivating to see how far you’ve come.”

The journey is now being shared by others seeking inspiration.

“I’ll put up a picture of a space we’ve just finished, and I’ll have people ask me questions about the product we used, how long it took, and about the colour, and I love that,” Kristen says.

“If I can help just one person, or offer inspiration, I think that’s very valuable.”

For the mother-of-two who isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty, it wasn’t a question of if, but rather when, she’d try her hand at renovating.

She has been dabbling in design since the age of nine, boasting a collection of books filled with her ideas.

“I used to dream up my ideal home and I knew exactly what it would be like.”

From detailed mood boards, classic finishes, innovative products and simple furnishings, Kristen and Adam set about creating a ‘holiday at home feel’ to each renovation.

“Home should be a place of release. It should be calm and inviting. You should want to touch all the textures and relax in each zone, and it should all be functional and not everything has to match or look like a display home.


“If there’s any advice I can give to someone thinking of renovating it is to live through every season before you start,” Kristen says. 

“I had big plans for this kitchen when we moved in, but when I saw it through all of the seasons those plans changed, and that made a huge difference to the overall look.”

Renovating in stages is also essential given the current market she warns.

“When you’ve spent quite a bit [of money] on a home and the cost of building materials keep going up, you need to plan well.

“You need to know what order to do things. You can’t have a trade show up and need to switch off power and water when you’re in the middle of a task that needs those.

“Do one space, and then move on to the next.”

Prioritising need over want and spending money on areas with the greatest return is another of her non-negotiables.

“We started in the bathroom in one of our houses, just because the tiles were falling off and you could see through the floor, that makes it the most important space at the time.

“The two places I feel the money should be spent are the kitchen and the bathroom. They cost the most, but they make the biggest difference too.”


A visual plan helps keep renovators on track, Kristen says.

“When I’ve helped other people with their renovations and they’ve come to me at the last minute and they’re not sure about paint colour or styling, I ask them to show me their mood board.

“It records what you like and what you’re trying to achieve. And it’s something you can always go back to. 

“I always know exactly how a space is going to look because I’ve got my eight photos that I constantly refer to.”


Kristen’s homes have lots of plants.

“I love lots of greenery around, if I took out all my plants it would look very plain and sterile. I think greenery of all different shapes and sizes looks architectural. On their own they can look stunning, or in a plain vase.

“Each space can have a different feeling with plants.”


“You can never get it wrong if you stick to classic finishes,” says Kristen.

Some of her favourite inclusions are stone benchtops, louvre windows, sheer curtains and floorboards.

“Letting in lots of natural light is essential, watching sheer curtains move in the breeze gives a tropical, coastal feel, and with two kids and a dog flooring needs to be hard wearing.

“Once you have the classic finishes you can change up a space with decor; wooden chopping boards, plants, coloured tea towels.”


“Cushions are like my wine,” Kristen says.

“I love changing up colours, and cushions can completely change a look.

 “They’re the same cost as a bottle of wine and it’s something that makes me happy. 

“I’ve got cupboards full of cushions. That’s my weakness.” 


“Storage Is a big factor when you’re renovating,” she advises.

“Picture how you’ll be living in that space and think about how you can maximise the storage. Having a place to put things is very important to maximise a space. It allows you to put things away and reset each night. That allows you to start each new day feeling ready for what’s to come.”


“Mixing different coloured woods and textures adds contrast,” Kristen adds.

“You don’t have to change all your furniture, you can pick up colours from your artwork, accents through your furnishings and then highlight different touches.”


Her most important word of advice is to not rush the process.

“Be patient, everything does take time. Do your research and have a go. Everything we’ve achieved has been because we’ve just had a go.”

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