Who lives here: Angela Weeks, a marketing director; her husband, Mark, a builder; and their sons, Sam, 7, and Jesse, 5; and Izzy the labrador.
Style of house: A revamped early-1900s character villa with a new extension in New Zealand.
Timeline: The project took eight months of non-stop work.
Cost: The complete renovation cost over $700k.
The dream of a relaxed lifestyle was what drew Angela and Mark to their Devonport home in Auckland, New Zealand. Having previously lived in the city, the couple were struck by the generous 700 square-metre plot, which ensured there was enough room to extend the house, build a pool, and still have enough space for their sons, Sam and Jesse, to kick a ball around. “But most of all, we loved the proximity to the beach across the road,” says Angela. “I’ve always loved casual seaside living and, being so close to the ocean, it made sense to create that here.”
Although the character villa had great proportions, “she certainly wasn’t a beauty”, says Mark. Namely, the five various types of wallpaper, three different carpets and a kitchen bench that was so rotten it was held up with a post. “Over its lifetime, many owners had made changes and almost eliminated any trace of the original villa details,” says Mark. “But we knew, with some hard work, we could restore her charm and add modernity at the same time.” The result is a haven for the family of four, where you can throw open the doors for relaxing summer days.
Angela, what are the major changes you’ve made? Where do we start?
The entire house was stripped back to its framing, insulated and lined, stopped and repainted. Panelled villa ceilings have been re-created, and the oak wooden floors were re-laid. The original sash windows have been extensively repaired and, in some instances, completely replaced. Then we added another 90 square metres of living space, and a pool and pool house. We worked within the footprint of the old house, but future-proofed by adding a new extension to give us the increased living area that we needed.
How did you approach who took what role during the renovation? Mark is a builder, so his role was pretty clear cut, and I have a passion for interiors so took the lead on the decor. The rest was very much a collaboration between our architect Clair Nicholls and the two of us. Everything that we could do ourselves, we took on, and then we used Mark’s team of tradesmen to get the overall result we were aiming for.
How would you describe your decorating style?
Eclectic, and definitely our own. I’m a big fan of collecting interior ideas and beautiful things, then re-creating them in a unique way for our family. We try to buy for longevity so we invest in quality and authentic pieces. When it comes to colour, I always go for black and white, which might sound a bit boring but, in this case, meant we weren’t afraid to take a risk. Most people looked at us in horror when we described our plans to build a kitchen and study in black. But thanks to Clair, both have turned out to be beautiful features.
What’s your favourite thing in the house?
I love the Missoni lights in the hallway. I had seen similar ones in a magazine several months before we started our renovation and, through the internet, managed to hunt them down overseas, then convinced someone to import them for me.
How did you come up with the concept for the kids’ playroom? Although I had a real sense of what I wanted it to look and feel like, we worked on this room together, and it was a space we spent a lot of time thinking about. The kids are now at an age where they want to be around us so the timber slats give them proximity to me in the kitchen, but we knew as they got older, we would be happy to close the doors on their mess and noise! What works so perfectly for us is that it’s all down to a simplistic design and layout, which is functional at the same time. Ensuring every space was generous, including this room, means the house easily caters for the extra friends that turn up on a regular basis.
Why did you choose to have a step-down living area?
We love living in the garden and by the pool in summer so the way the house steps down at the end of the hallway, and then flows on the same level outside to the lawn is ideal. It also gives the lower living area privacy from the front entry, and enabled us to incorporate the high vaulted ceilings that we wanted.
What would you say to others renovating for the first time? And is there anything you’d do differently?
You rarely re-renovate the same house, so make sure you invest your budget in the things that really count. The most valuable lesson we learned was to trust the people you work with so you can enjoy what is so often a stressful process, and still have a heap of fun along the way. My biggest nightmare was not doing my homework on window shutters and then having to get them re-fitted. There is only one thing we’d do differently if we started over, and that would be to make the master bedroom slightly larger at the expense of Jesse’s bedroom.