With the help of restoration building specialists, BD Construction, this family of four now enjoys the riches of the past as well as the conveniences of modern technology.
At the turn of the 20th century, the historic homestead in Leeston was built as part of a working farm. Fast forward more than a hundred years and a fifth generation of the family has restored her to her former glory.
Having grown up in the house, Richard Lemon always longed to return someday with his own family. Ten years ago this childhood dream became a reality when he and his wife, Charlotte, and their two boys moved in.
‘Despite its dilapidated state, the house has always had a good feel’, Richard says. But, even with major renovations undertaken by his father some 30 years ago, the tired homestead was in desperate need of some loving care.
At the top of their design brief was retaining as much of its original character as possible. Keeping authentic colonial features like the ornate architraves and decorative ceiling roses was ‘crucial’; but equally important was modernising the home to suit the needs of their family.
Breathing new life into its weary bones, BD Construction was engaged to repair the substantial earthquake damage on the homestead and complete a major renovation that included a large extension to the rear of the property to increase the kitchen’s functionality.
Miyamoto International (MINZ) was brought on board to undertake the structural design and to monitor the structural repairs. Liaising with the building team, the insurance company and the clients, MINZ was tasked with repairing the existing 100-year-old foundation, while applying current codes, updating the house bracing system to satisfy current standards, and strengthening the roof structure without removing the framing elements.
Although maintaining the integrity of this historic home presented many challenges – preserving its colonial-style appearance while meeting the new post-quake codes of compliance – the skilled engineering team drew on their extensive experience with older building methods to deliver a structurally sound solution that never compromised the aesthetic.
The first idea they had, to replicate the original timber foundation, was eventually thrown out in favour of a sturdy concrete pad. Removing the old timber floor, while holding the rest of the structure firmly in place proved the greatest challenge for the building team, says Project Manager, Barry Duncan.
‘With careful planning, though, we were able to ensure the integrity of the building’s structure while the new concrete foundation was poured.’
Stripping and repainting the original timber weatherboard exterior, a brand new Colorsteel roof was selected to match the new extension, transforming the tired carcass and returning this grand old beauty to her former glory.
Inside, the defining element is the array of stunning luxury wallpapers that add personality to each room. Creating a statement in the upstairs and downstairs bathrooms, bold patterned wallpapers were selected to form a colourful backdrop to the whiteware; and these also feature in the foyer, sitting room, kitchen, formal dining room and master bedroom.
Paperhanger Kelvin Smyth prepared and hung the wallpaper throughout. Due to the long lengths of wallpaper – up to 4.5 metres – Kelvin says the greatest challenge he faced was judging the amount of time required to adequately soak the paper without distorting the patterns. But, with his 28 years of experience, he timed it just right for a flawless finish.
Matching the fine craftsmanship of the family's forefathers, the expert machinists at Halswell Timber paid the utmost attention to detail to the original skirting boards and architraves, and meticulously replicated each profile.
Halswell Timber owners Peter and Barbara Stuart explain that, as older houses are now less common in Christchurch, their work is particularly important when it comes to retaining the valuable character of such homes. Working predominantly with timbers native to New Zealand, they recreated the complex Rimu flooring in the kitchen extension as well as the ornate mouldings, which are typical of colonial-style homes.
With a number of historical renovation projects with BD Construction already under their belt, they say the high standards adhered to by the building company, together with the unparalleled skill of their craftsmen, has delivered stunning results they can all be proud of.
The extension to the rear of the home has vastly improved the functionality of the farm-style kitchen, which is now Charlotte’s favourite place to bake and entertain guests. Ryan's Kitchens and Joinery designed the space with specific areas of use in mind – such as the espresso station that sits in an alcove between the open-plan kitchen/diner and the scullery behind – and they created specific homes for appliances and shelving for preserves in the scullery.
All kitchen joinery was painted using Resene Half Napa, which provides a neutral pairing with the subtle patterned cream and lime wallpaper, while black pressed tin tiles create a striking inset along the back wall. Country-style black handles were chosen to match the tiles, and a generous farmhouse-style sink offers a nod to the family’s long farming history.
The deep Shaws Butler sink is paired with a pewter Perrin & Rowe Phoenician kitchen mixer, supplied by Oakleys Bathroom and Plumbing Supplies: Oakleys working in close collaboration with the couple and their interior designer to select fixtures and fittings for the laundry and both bathrooms as well.
The downstairs guest bathroom features a Crest Lacunastone shower with frameless glass enclosure and a Michel Cesar vanity that pops against the bright buttercup wallpaper; while upstairs, the family bathroom features a pair of Burlington Edwardian pedestal basins that complement the curvaceous Burlington bath, where one can enjoy the bucolic views out across the neighbouring farms.
Energy Electrical used the new Iconic Series plugs and light switches from trusted Christchurch manufacturers PDL. A world-first, the PDL Iconic Series delivers cutting-edge technology that allows the user to configure all settings for light switches, heated towel rail timers, underfloor heating and hot water - all through a smart phone application.
And, with smart Bluetooth dimming technology on all light fittings, as well as many more energy efficiency control systems, the couple now has the power to monitor their electricity costs and control the technology in their home.
‘BD Construction have lavished their time and patience on this project, one that has demanded a high level of sensitivity and reverence’, the couple reflect. ‘The blend we now have between old and new is pretty much perfect.’
Richard says that, although there were always going to be challenges on a renovation project of this scale, BD Construction was always on hand with a solution. ‘Every time they knew just what to do and how to do it.’
While there are some who build just for the money, the couple say they had a strong sense that ‘these guys do it for genuine love of the craft’, which made all the difference – not only making the journey a more rewarding one, but giving the family a home that has delivered ‘beyond [their] wildest dreams’.
‘We were thoroughly impressed with the high level of dedication of all involved’, the couple agree. ‘It really has been such a labour of love, and we couldn’t be more thrilled with the result.’
Words & styling: Majka Kaiser Photography: Mick Stephenson