At home with Mr Ralph founder, Rachel Williamson

April 21, 2020

Rachel Williamson, founder of Mr Ralph, takes us through her home at Waihi Beach

Tell us about your home? 

We live at Waihi Beach and moved into this house almost exactly one year ago. It is a simple 80’s three bedroom weatherboard home with a 90’s extension! The thing we adore is the view and the easy proximity to the beach and village. We have renovated since we have moved in but our budget was not huge at all. We decided to focus on the amazing ability of a repaint and new lighting to create an affordable transformation.

What is your personal style?

I am not an interior designer, having spent most of my life in sales and marketing, but I obviously have a passion for lighting. We chose colours and lighting that spoke to my love of classic Mid-Century design with a more eclectic and layered finish. We also wanted to avoid being too “beachy”. In the images presented we haven’t quite finished adding our pictures etc to the walls. We didn’t have the budget for new bathrooms so we did simple things like replace handles and add shelves etc.

Which are your favourite spaces? 

My lounge is north facing and has bush and ocean views. It's incredible! We love the log fire, we are really weird and pray for cooler nights so we can get that thing roaring! The dining room is super cosy, and we love the 80’s panelling in the entrance and kitchen. Oh, and the ceilings in the majority of the house are really interesting.

What was the greatest challenge? 

No wiring in the bedroom walls meant that I used plug-in lighting in one spare room. All rooms only had central pendants, so we had to use lots of layering light. In the kitchen we used piping to spread pendants, and in the downstairs extension we only had a 2.4 stud height. I wanted the lighting to blend in and NOT be a huge feature, but I also wanted it to be classic and enduring. 

Is there any lighting advice that you can offer as a result of this renovation?

Yes, absolutely. Don’t try to match everything too much. You can play with different colours and styles as long as the overall “feeling” is cohesive. Not many people have the perfect environment for feature lighting in each room, after all we are challenged by wiring and practical aspects like ceiling heights, but remember you don’t need to get one light to do everything. Layering is the key here: Ambient, Accent and Task lighting need to exist in each space.

Walk us through your rooms and explain why you made certain choices.


We chose the classic Mat McMillan iO pendant with a twist! We wanted classic/relaxed/organic but not too obviously beachy! We did have some height here and chose the Long Cube shape because we felt it was slightly different.


iO2 Long Cube Shade 


A mix of organic rattan/linen and Mid-Century saucer pendants and lamps or plug-in wall lights to add that layering effect. In the downstairs bedroom we had a concrete wall behind the bed with awkward wiring that couldn’t be moved!


 Bubble Saucer Pendant and Frankie Wall Light with Manhattan Glass Shade


With such a small amount of space we love the way our electrician, Phil, used a gorgeous knot and moved the position of the pendant, we get so much light from it. There was also a very small space for the wall light, so we used a super simple and dinky Mr Spot.




We wanted a warm informal space; the true hero here is the view from the sink! A lack of wiring in the ceiling was overcome with the use of piping to spread the pendants. The walls with the shelves were ripped off and wall light wiring put in. I cannot tell you the amount of light we get from these lights – we are thrilled to bits! Then we used another Mat McMillan iO Cube shade - you step down from the entrance into the kitchen area, so you get to really enjoy the shade and it has a connection to the entrance light nearby. 



Wanted to embellish the lovely super cosy vibe in here and the Velvet shade felt so luxurious and slightly oversized.

70cm Velvet Tapered Hanging Shade



The lounge has a gorgeous ceiling! We debated for eight months about painting it. The ceiling was an orangey wood originally, but it was warm and slightly mid-century. We're happy we painted it now, the space feels light and fresh and nicer to live in. The simplicity of the Bubble Ball Pendants just makes me happy and believe it or not they are super simple to clean. The wall lights in here are a simple Old Gold but a stunning NUD Romb Bulb is exquisite when relaxing in there.


NUD Star Bulb