When it came to reviving an aging bungalow, its owners wanted to remain architecturally faithful to a bygone era.
WORDS Jason Burgess PHOTOGRAPHY Caroline Ducobu
When it came to reviving an aging bungalow, its owners wanted to remain architecturally faithful to a bygone era while also incorporating the modern clean lines and ambience of a luxury resort.
Greg and Caroline Leighton have lived in Mount Eden for 20 years. They love its heritage buildings, proximity to town and community. Ten years ago they took a plunge and after a lengthy search bought their Fairview Road home. Built into the sheltered lower slopes of the mountain the 1912 bungalow was once the grand home of the local butcher.
With its private north-facing backyard, swimming pool, wide westerly views from upstairs and stadium sized front garden it is hard to believe you are minutes from the CBD. “It’s difficult to find houses set back from the road on section sizes like this,” says Greg. “There aren’t too many left.”
Like many larger homes in the area theirs had been converted into flats during the 1960s when the inner suburbs were considered undesirable. The previous owners subsequently refurbished it back into a single dwelling but left it unfinished. Stopping, painting and carpet gave the home a remedial lick of life to see the Leightons through a decade before making the decision to expand their living spaces and restore some grace to this once stately home.
The prior owners had plans drawn for refurbishments, but they were nothing like what Greg and Caroline had in mind. The plans were redrawn to extend the ground floor family room footprint to match the original exterior wall line and accommodate a gracious 59-square-metre second floor master bedroom above.
There was also the issue of a perilously steep staircase and a poorly pitched entrance roofline and ceiling that was hardly befitting of an ‘old dame’. A kitchen redo was planned but eventually vetoed in favour of alterations to the ground floor guest rooms to create a slick shared en-suite and extra hall side powder room.
The Leightons are rapt seeing their vision gradually coming to fruition. Refresh Renovations are very pleased, too: “It is a beautiful, highly spec’d home. The final layout is something to be proud of.” Much effort has gone into perfecting a seamless flow between the new addition and the existing build, including sourcing and replacing weatherboards, skirtings, architraves, clay roof tiles and the six-inch wide Matai floorboards throughout the ground level. “We were really conscious of avoiding a mismatch of old and new,” says Greg.
The enormous family room opens out onto generous wrap around decks set in a rear garden oasis that houses a giant trampoline. This room will eventually be fitted with study stations, a large bespoke sofa and book shelving. The dark stained floors conjure the tropics while four topcoats of polyurethane withstand the rigours of an active young family. Recessed halogen spots were fitted throughout the house with feature chandeliers punctuating the flow.
In the family room Resene Half Eskimo white walls and Resene Alabaster ceilings add to the airiness of the capacious 3.3-meters high stud. As you move through the ground floor subtle shifts in paint colours between Resene Half Concrete and Resene Half Black White gives each room its individual flavour without jarring the senses.
New insulation was installed throughout, which gives the house an overwhelming sense of snugness. A giant 9.6-kilowatt Mitsubishi heat pump warms the downstairs area while three separate smaller units handle the top floor. All upper story ducting was placed in the ceiling during the build to accommodate outlet placement on interior walls.
The open-plan master bedroom is a showstopper, replete with a 2.2-metre wide, custom-made bed featuring a 3D white leather panelled headboard and surround, plus a separate TV room/nursery/study. “We both love it,” grins Greg. “It really captures the resort feeling we were after and it is a great haven away from the kids.”
While Caroline had a hand in choosing styles and Methven tapware, Kate Dowling from Svelte Architecture and Design advised on the interior design and drew up both elegant and pragmatic bathroom designs including bespoke vanities and a smart integrated system for the extensive four-metre deep downstairs laundry.
In the master bedroom a ‘Perugia’ 3D square white tile splashback sits above a bespoke Corian benchtop visually tying in with the proportions of the 3D square bedhead. The toilet and shower are cleverly tucked behind the vanity to provide ultimate privacy. A freestanding Mélange Bath Column weighing in at 180 kilograms floats in the space and required extra engineering and strengthening to accommodate. “We have used it a few times already and we haven’t ended up downstairs so its obviously been done right,” laughs Greg.
New Mohawk New Sensation Graphite carpet creates continuity between all the upstairs rooms. In the laundry an Asko drying cupboard, pull out Artweger Ruckzuck clothes rack and soft close cupboards and drawers aplenty are the dreams of a domestic goddess. A laundry shoot conveys washing from the master bedroom.
Storage is paramount to maintaining the Leightons’ sense of minimalism. Considerable thought has gone into placement and design of built-in cupboards, false walls for accessing cables and plumbing, and even head heights for the ‘his and hers’ in-built mirrors in the master bathroom vanities.
With walk-in wardrobes in every room, there is a place for everything and everything is in its place. For the kids, a secret playroom tucked in behind the boys’ bedroom wardrobe runs about five-metres in length and takes care of the clutter of toys. A generous existing upstairs bathroom – the wet room domain of the children – has been left untouched while downstairs the shared en-suite reflects the master bathroom using the same tile and layout concepts.
The piece de resistance for Refresh Renovations is the new stairwell. “The old steep staircase didn’t do the house justice,” he says. A raking ceiling now opens out over a majestic entry foyer with a grand staircase that better reflects the bungalow period. “We worked closely with an engineer and Continental Stairs to make an ergonomic and cost-effective stairwell. Installing giant steel pillars and the handrail was very labour intensive but I think the outcome looks fantastic.”
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This home renovation case study by Jason Burgess featured on page 28 in Issue 007 of Renovate Magazine. Renovate Magazine is an easy to use resource providing fresh inspiration and motivation at every turn of the page.
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