ARTICLE Katie Newton IMAGE Scott Espie
What was your vision for the space?
To convert a mechanics workshop into a beautiful space that would double as a showroom for Mildred&Co, as well as an event space for hire. We wanted to something sophisticated and welcoming - somewhere in between a person’s home and a retail space - however we also didn’t want to lose the original bones of the building or the industrial feel.
What renovation experience did you have?
With the help of others, I renovated my first home a few years ago, so I had a fair understanding of what it entails. However this time we had an architect on board (Jose Gutierrez - www.josegutierrez.co.nz) who managed the whole project from start to finish, which was an absolute godsend. It was such a big job and such a huge transformation that there is no way we could have done it without him.
What was here originally?
A rather derelict mechanics workshop with oil soaked floors, mix-matched coloured plastered walls, chicken-wired ceiling, a corrugated-iron lean-to and generally just a lot of grime and dirtiness from a lifetime of cars being serviced in there.
What did you have to do to transform it?
We created a courtyard in the centre of the plan to add maximum natural light. The rear wall of the existing building was knocked out and new sections of building were built around it to form the courtyard. The courtyard is quite unexpected, like a little mini oasis within a gritty inner-city area. The front façade of the building was also reclad with a robust steel sheet cladding; there is a nice contrast between the robust black façade and the light filled interior.
Did you encounter any difficulties?
There were a few road blocks along the way in terms of how things were built in the best way possible, but nothing too serious luckily. All it meant was a slightly delayed finish date. It seems that renovations always take longer than expected!
What are your favourite aspects of the new space?
I love the polished concrete floors, the large floor to ceiling doors and the white battened ceiling - which funnily enough was something the architect had to convince me of. I was having such a hard time visualising it on the plans but it turned out perfectly and really adds to the overall lightness of the building. I also can’t wait to fill the inner courtyard with trees and ivy. It’s going to be such a suntrap in summer!
What would you do differently next time?
Install a space heating solution that was integrated into the overall design. It’s now a much more costly exercise as we have to cut into the walls again which isn’t ideal!
What is your top tip for renovating a space like this?
Hire a good architect (it’s worth every penny) and have a great team of builders behind you.
What more do you have to do to complete the space?
We still need to landscape the courtyard so it is full of beautiful greenery and we also need to install the main shelving unit, which is going to take up the length of one wall. As well as having a practical purpose they have been designed to be a feature of the room, therefore will be quite spectacular in their own right. Lastly I need to fill it with all the products that I sell on Mildred&Co – this ranges from kitchenware to outdoor furniture. Everything will be on wheels so when the space is needed for events, it can all be wheeled away and hidden from sight.