Baker and pie queen Devoney Scarfe shares her kitchen renovation journey

Creating her dream kitchen during lockdown wasn’t easy but for food artist (and pie queen!) Devoney Scarfe, the results were worth it.

Who lives here?

Devoney Scarfe, her husband, creative agency director Jon Coles, their children, Otis, 13, and Dash, 11, plus black Labrador Tui, elderly cat Daisy, and rescue duckling Daffodil.

Where is it?

Westmere, Auckland.

How long have you lived here and what renovations have you done?

“We’ve lived here for 12 years. Apart from painting a few rooms, the kitchen is the first renovation we have done.”

What was the original kitchen like, and what did you want to change?

“The kitchen was okay – I could get by with it – but it was old and starting to fall apart, so it was time for it to be replaced. What I wanted most was storage and an oven that cooked at an even temperature. I’m so happy I have both those things now.”

Black and white photo of a cluttered kitchen interior

Tell us about the renovation.

“We did the kitchen in Auckland’s second lockdown. My 11-year-old wasn’t keen about online learning at all the second time around, so I gave him a crowbar and sledgehammer and he knocked out a lot of the old kitchen (with my husband’s guidance).”

Black and white photo of three people working on a bare gutted room

What inspired you and what materials did you use?

“I chose the tiles for my splashback first and worked it out from that point. I stuck with the old kitchen layout, as it worked well and I wanted to reuse the old stainless-steel benchtops. I went for melamine cupboard doors – I would have loved a wooden veneer but it was out of our budget. I used porcelain tiles on the splashback and tiled it myself – I borrowed the tools and watched YouTube tutorials.

The benchtop was already here when we bought the house 12 years ago. I decided to keep it, mainly because I still like it but also because I try to be mindful about waste, and reuse what I think still works. It’s super practical, which suits both family kitchen life and pastry work.”

Slatted induction fan in pale wood cabinetry with dark splashback
The induction fan is by Sirius. “It’s great for me,” says Devoney, “as I do a lot of Asian-style dinners on the hob, which tend to be quite steamy. You can just flip the filters out and pop them in the dishwasher, so it’s super easy to clean.” IMAGE VIA REUBEN LOOI

What tradies did you work with?

“My dad is a builder, so I took all my trade recommendations from him, which was super helpful. Trying to work out who to hire is time consuming! I got the cabinetry custom-made by Moda Kitchens. Chloe Norriss from Moda drew up a kitchen plan so I could visualise it, but it was up to me to get all the bits together.”

What do you love about the new kitchen?

“The best change I made (aside from getting a new oven) was taking the cupboards right up to the ceiling. No more horrible dust/grease trap on top of the cupboards! It also gave us heaps more storage space and made the whole room look tidier.”

Kitchen interior with blonde wood and stainless steel

What’s your decorating style?

“I love reusing things where I can, especially work surfaces, such as my bench and kitchen table. They have a history and tell a story, which fits well with my romantic, nostalgic side. I don’t like it all to be shiny and new – it’s good for both the environment and your wallet to think about what you can reuse. I do like to put the old beaten-up things with brand new, crisp items though. There’s nothing like a new set of kitchen cupboards!”

Wooden dining table with eclectic chairs

Any renovation disasters?

“We were all booked in and then Auckland’s second lockdown happened, but we went ahead anyway. Luckily, building work was still permitted. It was quite stressful doing a kitchen reno with the kids around and my husband working from home. I also caught shingles just before the work started. Shingles is a super-painful virus – it was quite an intense week.”

What did you learn?

“I learnt not to do a kitchen reno in a Level 3 lockdown with a painful virus!”

What’s next?

“Next up is the big part: building a lounge, bathroom and laundry. Our plans are with the council, waiting for approval.”

Did you have a budget?

“We did have a budget, which I completely lost control of. I made a massive rookie mistake and only budgeted for the things I could see, like the oven and dishwasher. It seems so stupid now, but I didn’t budget for the plumber, electrician, gas, etc. You live and you learn.”

Any renovation tips?

“Get someone more experienced than you to check that your budget isn’t a fairytale. Also, you’ll be surprised how much you can learn from a YouTube tutorial. It’s super satisfying to do some of the work yourself.”

Photos of your gorgeous pies went viral on social media during the first lockdown. Do you have any plans to sell pies?

“I had a cake business that I closed up a few years ago. I won’t be making a product for market again – been there, done that. I’m not really sure where the whole pie thing is taking me. I’m interested in food styling, so I might have a sniff around that area, or maybe I’ll keep it as a hobby.”

How will you celebrate Christmas and what will you cook?

“My husband’s sister and her family have just moved to Thames, so we will drive down and spend Christmas with them. It’ll be super casual, with platters and finger food. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been making the Christmas pav every year since I was about 12, so I will probably throw one of those together as well. I guess I’ll also make some Christmas pies but I’m not going to go overboard. It’s been a massive year in the kitchen for me and I could do with a bit of a break after all the decorating, to be honest.”

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