ARTICLE Jason Burgess IMAGE Scott Espie
When Michael Taylor got lost on the waterside streets of Panmure his first reaction was “wow, this is good”.
When Michael later stumbled on a For Sale sign at the two-for-one dilapidated properties at Bridge Street he immediately recognised the potential of its overgrown dwellings.
“On the water with it’s own jetty,” says Michael, “The whole setting is unique, you can catch your own breakfast!”
He bought the properties after they failed to meet reserve at auction and set about creating a very special set of rental homes. Being a builder himself, Michael had a clear vision of the tropical beach feel that he wanted to achieve. His next call was to his go-to interior design consultant Lynda Rathbun to translate his vision and help bring it all together.
On site there are four self-contained dwellings including two cottages plus a studio attached to the double garage on the lower section. On the top property a three-bedroom brick and tile home sits high overlooking the Tamaki River. Built in 1963 its original furnishings were tired, the joinery shot and the decks in need of attention.
It is thought that the property marks the northern approach to the original 1860s road bridge across the Tamaki. The two cottages were built for workers, possibly in the thirties, during the construction of Panmure’s third replacement road bridge. They looked as if they hadn’t been touched since.
One of the first challenges Michael and Lynda faced was trying to locate house plans for either of the two sites. There was nothing at council. Lynda was charged with drawing up some new ones plus paper templates for each room so that all the trades had an accurate outline to work from.
The pair worked solidly for six weeks, budgeting, planning and shopping, often in demo yards for character fittings and hardware before renovation commenced.
According to Lynda, “All the materials and appliances were chosen and purchased early so everything was here when we needed it. This was all part of our initial budgeting.” Michael also had a source of tiles and other items that he had collected and traded over the years.
Each dwelling required new insulation so woollen batts were installed throughout. All homes were re-plumbed and rewired with data capabilities added.
Recessed downlights with illuminated HP dimmer switches were fitted in all areas, complemented by some feature lighting. Power to the lower cottages was cabled underground to remove visual pollution and pole clutter.
The leaking decramastic tile roof on the top house was replaced with a lignite coloured Trimline corrugated steel roof. When it was discovered that the cottages below also needed re-roofing Michael went straight to the manufacturer and negotiated the supply of ‘iron sand’ Trimline and employed a roofer on an hourly rate to re-roof.
In the upper house wallpaper was stripped, re-plastered and painted with Dulux Oreti (wash and wear) and Oreti Double on skirting and doors. Dulux Haast was used on windows and sofits. While there are some subtle colour shifts in each building the colour scheme was maintained throughout. “The colours,” says Lynda, “link everything together. It is also cost-effective.”
In all the dwellings the old carpet and vinyl was lifted to reveal spotless rimu floors in the top house and kauri in the cottages. They were all sealed and polished and remain uncovered in the kitchen and dining areas.
For winter warmth the bedrooms and passages were covered with a taupe coloured Master Kelwin commercial carpet sourced by Michael.
To remain true to their respective eras all the original wooden windows were stripped and repainted and the hardware polished back to brass. A combination of Holland Sunscreen and Venetian blinds was used in all units so that all views were optimised without compromising privacy.
Saltwash kitchen follows the original footprint of the kitchen in the top house. Undermount Burns & Ferrall sinks are common to all the kitchens.
A mottled granite benchtop and glass mosaic tile splashback of aquas and teals references the subtropical harbour colours outside the kitchen window. An overhead cupboard was removed and replaced with Décor Bellini copper pendant lights over a return breakfast bar.
While the master bedroom has its own white tiled en-suite it is the main bathroom that takes pride of place. A ‘couple of mates’ whipped up the bespoke two-metre long hanging cabinet with a one-piece marble top and molded sink. Soft beige wall tiles make for a bright and easy clean wet area. A Kalessi freestanding bath with tower mixer and a frameless shower complete this spacious room.
Plans for an internal access to the main house’s laundry were scotched as it would have compromised room space, creating additional work and expense. It was decided instead to make a comfortable room with its own commanding view of the river. The concrete blocks were strapped and relined with cedar and the wet areas tiled. A Robinhood laundry tub and ironing centre was introduced.
An existing rail and chain wire fence and adjacent concrete path at the rear of the home were refurbished. Heritage outdoor concrete tiles create a tidy and stylish walkway of an otherwise utilitarian area.
The garden on the north side of the house was fenced off and repaved to create a private courtyard area off the master bedroom and lounge. Two existing raised concrete decks were replaced using ‘Purpleheart’, a hardwood from Guyana. The same wood was used on the rebuilt jetty. Its cousin Greenheart, was used for the piles because it has a 200 year life-span and is impervious to seaworm.
Down the driveway the atmosphere feels decidedly ‘beachy’. Even the garage gets a cabana tickle up, with the external aluminium walls strapped with a plywood shadow clad beneath rain screen of rustic oak stained pine. At night a wall length concealed LED strip light creates a luminous glowing pathway.
The garage was re-partitioned with durable internal ply walls to provide individual parking to each of the cottage units. A porthole door off one leads to the studio. Here a generous resized second hand kitchen brought from Kerikeri and augmented by a new crockery cabinet provides a great entertaining area. Patterned carpet tiles in grey/green mean individual sections can be replaced if spillages occur.
All the laundry/bathrooms in the studio and cottages received a similar treatment and layout. Walls were lined with oiled yellow cedar, a timber clad privacy wall dividing the toilet and shower area.
For bathrooms in rentals Michael buys only quality products and keeps everything off the floor. “If you get cheap and nasty you will end up with a lot of added maintenance.” A stock clearance sale availed a bulk purchase of hardwearing PVC vanities, tapware, framed showers and heated towel rails. Robinhood laundry tubs were installed. All the tiles were sourced from Michael’s collection and each bathroom was finished for just $10,000.
Kauri feature walls in the upper one-bedroom cottage, give it a rustic charm. The original exposed beam ceilings were insulated and gibbed. Windows in the dining area were replaced with French doors to create an indoor-outdoor flow.
A resized granite bench top from Italian Stone and vintage handles completes the Bestwood kitchen cabinets. A covered breezeway with a sandblasted privacy screen was created to connect to the external bathroom.
The larger riverside cottage is so close to the water you could almost fish from the two walls of kitchen windows. Here it was decided to keep as much of the original character as possible.
A mutual access hallway was created to access the bathroom from both the bedrooms. The original wooden ceiling mirrors the polished floors in the kitchen/dining. A new U-shaped kitchen was installed.
The existing cedar joinery, fibrous plaster cornice details and ceilings were all revived. Restored light fittings from the top house were installed in the lounge. ‘Overall,’ says Michael, ‘It looks fantastic. We have brought the property up to a high standard. It’s really satisfying to see it finished. Long hours, late nights, lots of dust but we will do it again.’