Resource consent was required before any renovations were made to this home because of its heritage character and location it was in.
WORDS Stephanie Matheson
This picture book cottage-style home in the heart of Freemans Bay, Auckland showcases the best of small house living. Michael and Carla Swan loved the home’s character but decided to modernise it and take the house from two to three bedrooms.
The key priority for this renovation: space! “We increased the volume of living space by almost 50 percent,” explains Dave Georgetti of Refresh Renovations. “And we had to do it without materially changing the look of the exterior of the home.” Resource consent was required due to the heritage character of the home and street, and because the proposed changes breached certain planning controls. Because of a small public park on one boundary, the team even had to get the proposal signed off by the council parks department. With layers of rules and restrictions to consider, Refresh and Peter Perry, the architect, worked closely with both the owners and the council planners to arrive at a suitable design.
“While the look of the house had to be maintained, especially of course the street frontage, council’s heritage architect was keen to see us add a veranda typical for houses of this era,” says Dave. Stepping right on to the footpath, the new veranda improved the house’s street appeal and strengthened its visual connection to the neighbouring homes.
Michael and Carla’s house was actually relocated to its current site some years ago but fits perfectly with the architectural style of the neighbourhood. While maintaining the cottage look on the outside, the renovation shook things up good and proper on the inside. “Nothing is where it was, apart from two front bedrooms,” says Dave. “The kitchen got shunted aside to make way for the new stairs, and the bathroom and dining room swapped places.”
House renovation priorities
There are now two bedrooms downstairs and a new master-suite upstairs in what was previously an attic space. Dave says: “Adding useable living space without increasing the footprint or the look of a small home is not easy. Mike and Carla were not keen to have us lower the ceilings downstairs, so we took the whole roof off to increase the wall height and provide more standing room upstairs.”
Every inch of space is used. Small house living means that you have to think very carefully about every nook and cranny, to make the most of your space and find the best way to incorporate storage spaces. A new laundry was created under the stairs, and a clever walk-in pantry was also housed behind the staircase. Other space-saving elements include walk-in wardrobes and storage drawers under the eaves upstairs.
The final result
By rigorously planning the project with the specialists from Refresh Renovations, the Swans achieved a comfortable and cosy home with all the mod cons. The whole project went to schedule and has a massive impact on how the house flows and functions. “We changed the layout of the house to suit the family’s modern lifestyle. The owners had thought very carefully about how they wanted to use the spaces, and invested a lot of time and effort into planning the design,” says Dave. “The bathroom, for example, occupied the best spot in the downstairs area where sunlight floods in, so it was moved and made space for the new kitchen and dining area.”
The building was completely wrapped in plastic while work was in progress and the roof was removed and replaced. This enabled a faster build time and also allowed Michael and Carla to live in the house during the renovation. “Being on site can be challenging,” knows Dave. “But it can also be tremendously helpful as the owners can be involved in every aspect of the renovation and see what’s going on. Owner Michael was also very involved, taking on all exterior and interior painting, and handling many aspects of the interior finishing wherever he could find the time.”
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