WORDS Clare Chapman PHOTOS Scott Espie
As a very active couple – both regularly training for and competing in gruelling sporting events including Ironman races – they describe themselves as ‘outdoorsy types’. “We realised one day that we were living in a dungeon,” Kelly says.
“There was no sun in the places where there should have been and the living areas were cold and dark.” For Kelly, 44, the house was missing a lot: a connection with the outdoors was at the top of her list when they decided to renovation; she also wanted the rooms in her home to be light-filled and to be able to enjoy a more open-plan style of living.
The original house had an archetypal villa central hall plan and had seen little work done to it over the years, aside from two bedrooms at the front of the house being turned into an oversized lounge and a lean-to addition added at the rear. An upstairs room was accessible only via a ladder so it was an under utilised space.
“Before, you’d normally find me at the back of the house in the conservatory (in the lean-to addition0 reading a book. If Scott was on the laptop, he’d be in the lounge at the front of the house because it was too sunny to see the screen in the conservatory,” Kelly says. “So we would be living at opposite ends of the house, just because of the way the rooms were.”
As the street is on the heritage schedule, stringent character restrictions are in place for any renovations and a vigorous resource consent procedure needed to be undertaken if any changes were proposed to the home’s street elevation. As a result, the obvious first step was to look for opportunities at the rear of the house, which is where architect Richard Pearce of Fabricate Architecture, in conjunction with the clients, found ample inspiration.
“We had some ideas about what we wanted, but overall, we were pretty open to different options,” Kelly says. So when Richard showed them his concept, inspired by the deep eaves of traditional Japanese architecture, a plan was set in motion.
The end result is what Richard describes as a living pavilion; a loggia, striking in its verticality, extending out from the rear of the house. Acting as a vehicle between the indoors and out, its oversized eaves create a sheltered area, which is an extension of the interior living space, as well as an outdoor entertaining area, or, in Richards case, a place to train on a bike.
But the renovation didn’t end there. In fact, it started at the other end of the house, where the oversized living area was converted into two bedrooms (the new living room located in the loggia.) The kitchen remained in the same area it occupied formerly, facing out onto the rear of the property, but a laundry tacked-on at the end of the kitchen, which blocked off the hallway, was removed. “By removing the laundry we were able to reinstate the strong axial line, which takes you through the house, loggia and to the garden and entertaining area at the rear,” Richard says.
“Creating flow within the house, as well as between indoors and out was really important to us,” Kelly says. “The placement of the laundry created a strange situation, where you used to have to walk around through the dining room to get to the kitchen. It has made such a difference having the new layout. Now I can entertain much more easily. Before it was quite awkward because of the way the house was laid out.”
The new living area in the loggia is open to the dining area, with the kitchen adjacent. “I love having this new open-plan area. I have the sliding doors opened right most of the time; I really like the connection with the outdoors that it creates, and it’s practical for everything from drying laundry to entertaining.”
The kitchen and bathroom were also updated, an ensuite added to the master bedroom, and the ladder was replaced with a staircase, which opened up access to the fourth bedroom upstairs. “The whole renovation really unlocked the liveability of the house,” Richard says.