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Ben and Quinn’s Iconic Christchurch Renovation

Transforming a 1940s bungalow into a modern family home called for a total makeover by former Blockcontestants Ben and Quinn Alexandre, who chose PDL by Schneider Electric’s award-winning future-ready PDL Iconic™ switch range to complete the new look.

The history of a house is usually reflected in its architecture, but for Quinn and Ben Alexandre, it was the light switches that revealed most about the bungalow they renovated recently in Christchurch. The four-bedroom home in Linwood contained PDL switches from every decade since the house had been built – from a black 1940s switch in the laundry through to paint-covered switches from the 1990s.

“It was crazy,” laughs Quinn, as she recalls making their initial plans to makeover the property after buying it in early 2016. The couple are no strangers to renovation, having become familiar faces during their stint on the 2014 season of TV3’s reality show The Block. Taking on another renovation project (although away from the cameras) felt like familiar territory for them, but this time they had toddler Cooper, and also welcomed baby daughter Daisy halfway through, in December 2016.

They describe the house as being “badly run-down” when they bought it, but with good solid bones so they could see the potential for transforming it into a modern family home. “It was just the décor mainly,” says Quinn. “Aesthetically, it needed a lot of work. The carpet was bright red, and the walls were all yellow and the curtains were multi-coloured. It was the carpet that was the main ‘holy moly!’.” Outside, there was a wooden wheelchair ramp and little to no garden, but plenty of space to develop an outdoor entertaining area.

Looking to give the property a major upgrade, Ben and Quinn set about adding their touch to the house.  “We were trying to create something comfortable, low maintenance, and easy living for a family,” says Ben. While he concentrated on the outside, building a large deck, re-roofing and making the neglected garden more family-friendly, Quinn devoted her time to updating the interior. “I wanted to freshen it up and make it more modern. I did white throughout the whole house as that brightens everything up. The aim was modern and light and airy.”

Having worked with PDL by Schneider Electric during their time on The Block, the pair understood the importance of having the right switches when it comes to the overall look of a home and in the day to day experience of those using them. “Until you change the switches you just don’t get the effect it can have,” says Ben. “Just walking into a house with a nice light switch, when you flick it on it makes an enormous difference.”

They wanted a modern look for the new switches throughout the house and visited PDL’sVision Studio showroom in Christchurch to see what would suit the renovation and budget they were planning. After browsing the various styles available, it was the simple lines of the new PDL Iconic™range that caught their eye. “It looked modern,” explains Ben. “It was clean and sleek and we chose it straight away.”

They were in good company: PDL Iconic™also impressed the design industry, winning the prestigious 2017 Gold Design Award from the Designers Institute of New Zealand in the Consumer Category. Judges praised its attention to detail, ease of installation, user flexibility and impeccable production values.

Available at a standard price point, the features of PDL Iconic™include easily interchangeable matt finish skins in four colours, translucent edges to pick up background wall colours for more seamless integration, optional warm white LEDs to help find switches in a darkened room or to indicate when a switch is in use, and a range of stylish pictograms to easily identify functions.

PDL Iconic™also offers innovations such as the plug-in Night Walk Sensor Light Skin, which detects movement at night and illuminates softly to guide the way; and a new three-module USB charger with shelf. It also has a wide range of home connectivity features, allowing easy connection of home computers, smart devices, TVs and audio equipment, as well as control of lights, dimmers or timers via the Wiser Room app.

Up to six different data, phone, HDMI, AV, and TV modules can also be mixed within one PDL Iconic™wall plate for the ideal customised combination.

Ben says the simple installation and wide range available in PDL Iconic™is a real bonus for a family home. “You can pop off the faceplate to clean them really easily, and then just pop them back on. And we put the USB phone chargers in both bedrooms. Quinn finds that really handy, because whenever I go away I take the phone charger with me and she’s stuck with a dead phone which is not ideal! But now she can just plug her iPhone cable into the wall and it charges.”

The Alexandres finished the renovation in late 2017 and Quinn says that while they’re thrilled with the results, it was hard work getting it all done with two small children in the mix and giving up every weekend to painting and fixing. “Our weekends were always ‘reno’, and because you’re living there as well you’re sitting in the lounge and you can see all the things that need to be done. It’s hard to just relax. I’m glad we did it but I wouldn’t rush to do it again!”

Seeing the original red carpet go was a highlight, especially as it had become covered in paint when Quinn repainted the entire interior on her own, while Ben was at work during the day. The new carpet is in a plush grey, and Quinn says its addition brought the whole new look of the house together. Her other favourite feature was the pretty nursery she created for daughter Daisy.

Ben and Quinn put the property on the market in April this year having transformed it from a tired, run-down house, to a modern home designed for family living. With a new deck, landscaping and updated interior complete with the sleek PDL Iconic™ throughout, they have brought this home firmly into the modern era and made it ready for its next chapter in history.