Designed by Jason Higham and in the hands of Hammond Building contractors, this ‘monster’ has been transformed into a modern masterpiece
With its sharp exterior, harmonious interior and wonderful indoor-outdoor flow, it is difficult to imagine the hodgepodge structure that once occupied the site – that lent ‘good bones’ to this modern reinvention.
The home started life in the late 1950s as a tidy three-bedroom bungalow. But three renovation efforts later the modest dwelling had morphed into a six-bedroom ‘monster’.
‘It was a real dog’s breakfast when we bought it’, shares the current owner. ‘It had been added onto three times, and it didn’t work – to get to the master bedroom, you had to go through a glass conservatory, and from the garage you entered the home through a bedroom.’
From the outset, the couple recognised the home’s ‘good bones’, and had a vision of turning what was a rental property into their dream home. They wanted to create two distinct living spaces, and have the master suite separate from the other bedrooms. Ultimately, they ‘wanted to create good useable spaces and great flow through the house.’ It was a bold plan.
With a detailed catalogue of wants and needs, the couple turned to award-winning architectural designer Jason Higham of Higham Architecture. Specialising in unique residential architecture Jason relished the challenge that this project presented.
Reconfiguring the interior to make better use of space and to create more logical flow between spaces was an important starting point. As the homeowners explain, ‘we gave Jason a list of what we wanted in the perfect home, realising that you always have to compromise somewhere. And yet Jason managed to achieve everything we wanted, as well as make some strategic changes, such as repositioning the entranceway.
‘He was excellent, and presented us with three concept plans – which were all fantastic. Providing 3D images allowed us to “walk-through” the spaces and envision the finished result.’
‘Our 3D visualisations help clients to experience how their design will look and feel’, explains Jason, ‘ensuring that they are completely happy with the design before building gets underway’.
With meticulous attention to detail, a bold approach to problem-solving and flawless execution, Darin Hammond and the team at Hammond Building Contractors translated the plans into reality.
While the homeowners had initially imagined more modest alterations, such as ‘filling in the conservatory’, the project ended up being ‘as close as you get to a rebuild without rebuilding’, they explain.
For Hammond Building Contractors, the project involved starting from square one. As Darin explains, ‘we removed all the red brick veneer, timber windows, roof tiles and gib linings’ – to make way for plaster and corrugate, along with natural accents of cedar and schist at the entranceway.
The Rockcote Integra lightweight concrete façade system from Resene Construction Systems was finished in Classico, pre-coloured Quarter Dutch White, to achieve a grained, monolithic surface. Durable and low-maintenance, the system ensures that the exterior is unified and contemporary.
With the schist feature wall and cedar highlights, the approach to the home is dynamic and organic, as well as strikingly modern. Darin was able to design and plan the layered concrete steps leading up to the front door based on a picture that the homeowners had seen in a magazine. ‘The steps cantilever over each other, which meant we had to pour them separately – it was all a matter of timing’, he shares.
Stepping inside, the once disjointed interior has been completely reconfigured to include contemporary open-plan living, excellent flow and an assemblage of reworked bedrooms, bathrooms and storage spaces.
Of the features that make this metamorphosis complete, the redesigned kitchen takes the cake. As it was, ‘the kitchen was the hub of the home’, explains the homeowner. ‘But not in a good way. Everything flowed, or didn’t flow, through it. Now, the kitchen is a destination!’
Michael Eames from European Kitchens was given the all-important assignment of designing a kitchen that would be ‘the hub of the home’ in the way a kitchen ought to be. Handed a wish-list, Michael was able to ‘put on paper’ everything the couple sought. A myriad of details and considerations, such as specific drawer heights for storing particular items and a pantry that includes a wine cooler, have been incorporated into a design that showcases European sophistication and simplicity, whilst delivering the ultimate in function and practicality.
For Michael, the standout features are the stainless steel benchtops and granite island. Artisan Stone came on board to fabricate and install the 30mm-thick Polished Black Pearl Granite benchtop. The bespoke stone worktop features one waterfall end where the granite folds and flows to the floor, while offering openness and a practical seating area at the other end. Meanwhile the rebated sink enhances the smooth finish. The benchtop is contemporary and classic, and offers optimal durability and functionality.
This kitchen marries elegant lines and sleek surfaces with dynamic personal touches. Three prints taken on the couple’s travels have been incorporated into a ‘quirky, arty’ splashback. While the sepia tone complements the monochromatic palette, the central image, of a spiral staircase in Vatican City, animates the space and picks up on the curved tile floor that envelops it.
With an extension of the lounge-living-kitchen area, the living spaces were opened up so as to optimise flow through the home and into the garden. Of course the structural makeover wouldn’t be complete without the addition of cutting-edge technologies to ensure the ultimate in home comfort: light and spacious, this home is also warm and cosy.
The most sophisticated, ultra-wide fireplace on the market, an Escea DX1500 multi-room gas fireplace has been installed in the main living space. With its Heat Ducting Technology, the DX1500 captures up to 90% of available heat and returns it to every corner of the room. Some of this heat can even be ducted into the hallway or other rooms. Smart Heat Control Technology means that the couple can also operate their fireplace from their smart-phones.
The intricacies and layers to a job of this nature rival those of a complete rebuild: working with an older house – the sorry product of previous alterations at that – you never know what peeling back the layers will uncover, whether it’s rotten floorboards in the bathroom, or a massive sink hole under the lounge. Which was one challenge that Hammond Building Contractors encountered. ‘It required us to cut a hole in the side of the house to get a digger inside. It was a spanner in the works, but we were able to keep on track.’
As Darin explains, with alterations of this scope, there are ‘so many unknown factors’. As such, he uses a cost reimbursement system – built on the ‘total trust’ he establishes with his clients. ‘Going through the process this way, you can talk about issues and then just get on with the job.’
Of the experience, the homeowners explain that it was a ‘massive undertaking’ – certainly bigger than they had initially imagined. ‘We were doing it all from scratch.’ But, working closely with Darin and the team, ‘we felt completely in control and confident in the process’.
For Darin, ‘the challenges of additions and extensions make the work particularly satisfying, especially when you see the end result’.
This transformation is quite incredible – the house that stands on the site gives new life to the ‘good bones’ that the homeowners recognised when they purchased the original dwelling four years ago. Having lived in the home three years this Christmas, it still meets all their needs: ‘it’s pretty perfect’ in fact.
Words: Kate Barber Photography: Jamie Armstrong