Evelyn McNamara Architecture’s Glendowie House makes spending time together a real luxury

Her clever design details are supported by a suite of Fisher & Paykel appliances selected very early on in the process. Find out why… 

Slip into the spa at this breathtaking waterfront property and you’re practically at eye level with the ocean. Behind you, a thoroughly modern home for a thoroughly modern family rises towards the sky — a very special dwelling that reads like luxury yet champions everyday functionality and togetherness.

TOP As spectacular as the interior of this home is, the 180-degree view of the Hauraki Gulf beyond it is even more so, and Evelyn found some interesting ways to connect inside and out, including the spiral staircase that lets you move from the pool on the lower deck to the barbecue on the ground floor without trekking through the house with wet feet. Clean, contemporary lines are a hallmark of her work, so this standout element presents a pleasing juxtaposition to that. ABOVE “I think of homes as galleries for living,” says Evelyn. “A recessive backdrop works well as it responds to what you put into it — objects on the kitchen bench, flowers and artwork that bring life into a space.” She put this approach into action in the kitchen by choosing dark cabinetry by Distinction Joinery in Black Velvet Soft-Matt by Prime Panels, offset by a space-breaker in Portsea Grey limestone from CDK Stone. Crafted by Topline Benches from ultra-durable slate from Artedomus, the textural benchtop and island reflect the ripples on the water outside.

Designed by architect Evelyn McNamara and built by Graham Mauger Builders for a tight-knit family of five, the three-storey, five-bedroom masterwork is structured to make life easy and enjoyable, invite conversation and create cherished memories. It’s replete with inspired details that encourage connection and make its inhabitants feel like they’re on holiday at home — thoughtfully tailored inclusions like the four queen beds in the bunkroom that enable Mum, Dad and daughters to camp out in it together for fun. There are trios of work stations in the office and basins in the girls’ bathroom so they can stay side by side; utilities that take the effort out of housekeeping; a pool table and table tennis in the downstairs living space opposite the salt-water spa and infinity pool…
“It’s a resort,” says Evelyn.

TOP When a kitchen’s part of an open-plan living space, Evelyn prefers for the cabinetry to look more furniture than functional. Here, integration of the Fisher & Paykel appliances helps to achieve this while minimising visual clutter and maintaining an architectural aesthetic. An Integrated Double DishDrawer dishwasher sits within the island, while on the back bench, a 90cm Self-Cleaning oven is teamed with a 90cm 5-Zone Induction cooktop and a 90cm Integrated Insert rangehood. At the end of the island are vases by Carmel Van Der Hoeven (left) and from A&C Homestore. ABOVE Catering for a crowd is fuss-free for this family, thanks to the additional 60cm Built-In Combination steam oven and 60cm Self-Cleaning TFT wall oven housed in the scullery, along with an Integrated CoolDrawer multi-temperature drawer and 38-bottle under-bench wine cabinet. A full-size Integrated dishwasher expertly manages the aftermath of entertaining.

Located in the Auckland suburb of Glendowie, this coastal site is steep. In order to maximise the usable space and outlook, Evelyn spread the floorplan across three levels eloquently realised through earthworks that also allowed the lower tier to sit partially in the ground, concealing it to give the home a more subtle, two-storey appearance on arrival.
The entryway on this central level leads you on a journey that visually softens as you travel from the dark, angular exterior of the house through a Japanese-style garden by John Helyar of The Tree Place with a cut-out roof. From here, you step into the honeyed glow of the cedar-lined main portion of the home, moving past a laundry, office and powder room and into the main kitchen/dining/living space. Upstairs are the main bedrooms and bathrooms, while downstairs there’s a second living room, a second laundry and the bunk/guest room.

TOP Every zone within the main living space is designed to be big enough to comfortably include all five family members at once. Extending it further, a full bank of floor-to-ceiling Altherm sliding doors by APL Window Solutions connects to a covered vitex hardwood deck, where each section of the internal living space is mirrored by its exterior counterpart — the Luna swivel chairs from Coco Republic with outdoor seating, the dining table with outdoor dining furniture and the kitchen with a barbecue. The cushions on the window seat are from Forma and A&C Homestore, and the Milo nesting table is from Coco Republic. ABOVE Evelyn chose Fisher & Paykel as the brand of choice for the appliances as it offered everything she needed. “I believe technology is really important in a modern kitchen in terms of ease of use and having options, like using your CoolDrawer for vegetables during the week, then switching it to Wine mode for drinks for a weekend function,” she says. Between the kitchen and dining space, a Fisher & Paykel 90cm Integrated French Door fridge recedes into the cedar wall; it’s beautified by the brass Pull Bar hardware by Buster & Punch that’s complemented in the kitchen by a Tara Ultra mixer by Dornbracht from Metrix. The chocolate-coloured Poet’s Dream cake stand and jug (get a closer look in the previous picture) by Robert Gordon from A&C Homestore seen in the scullery are among the carefully selected items that adorn the kitchen as much for their function as their form. The flooring throughout the main living areas is Como from Forté’s Moda collection.

The kitchen offers fine examples of the ways in which this home brings the family closer. Three seats tucked into the island mean there’s a spot for each child to sit and discuss their plans for the day in the morning and debrief after school. They also love to cook, and this large space has room for three budding chefs to get involved without feeling crowded.

ABOVE The dining table (with Brooklyn chairs by Forma) is used as a design device that indicates the transition from kitchen to dining to living. On the living side, booth seating with bookshelves on the back creates a logical link with the lounge and a sense of enclosure when viewed from there. Below a brass Avenue 1 LED Dimmable Bar pendant light from Lighting Direct are vases are from BoConcept, and the cushions are from A&C Homestore.


Appliances by Fisher & Paykel were integral to the kitchen’s design, both for their high-tech specs and their ability to sit seamlessly within the scheme, an approach Evelyn takes to ensure a minimal backdrop that can instead be filled with the more personal objects that make a house a home. Case in point is the fridge ingeniously integrated not into cabinetry but into the cedar-panelled wall that wraps around from the entryway. Responding cleverly to the brief, it’s also positioned at the edge of the space to increase its accessibility from the adjacent dining and living areas.
Evelyn advocates locking in the appliances early on in the design process, “so it seems like they’re designed for that space, nothing’s an afterthought, and you don’t suddenly decide you want a wine cabinet somewhere and ruin the composition to get there. It comes back to the idea of curating spaces according to how people want to live in them.” 

TOP The family’s bedrooms are arranged on the home’s upper elevation, where they’re purposefully configured to capture the sunrise and sunset. In the couple’s sleep space, textural interest is added to the neutral palette of Resene Half Alabaster on the ceiling and Resene Alabaster on the walls with curtains in Dash Lunar fabric from Curtain Studio, Lisburn carpet by Bremworth and bedding by Città. On the deck, the fire pit by Design Warehouse is a great excuse for toasting marshmallows. ABOVE The lighting in the couple’s suite includes an Aksel pendant and a Ledlux Disc wall light, both from Lighting Direct.

Catering impressively to this family’s busy lifestyle, another of the bespoke features that makes this dwelling exceptional is the chute that runs from the top of the stairs on the second floor down to the first floor laundry, where Fisher & Paykel appliances once again became key players in the layout. Dual washing machines and a matching heat pump dryer make light work of the many weekly loads required by this sporty crew, and there’s a clothesline positioned on a deck just outside that’s drenched in all-day sun.
The second laundry on the ground floor takes care of pool towels and gives guests staying in the bunkroom greater independence. They can also use this laundry as a kitchenette, and help themselves to refreshments from the Fisher & Paykel wine cabinet, which comes equally in handy for the family when entertaining around the pool. 

TOP & ABOVE “With three sporty girls in the family, there’s nothing they’re not doing, so it’s dirty clothes all day long,” says Evelyn. All the mod cons, including two Fisher & Paykel 12kg WashSmart front-loading washers and a Fisher & Paykel 8kg Heat Pump Condensing dryer in this first floor laundry means they’re able to swiftly manage it all. Opposite them, the laundry chute separates its light, dark and coloured cargo into canvas bags — you just grab a bag, spin around and load the washing straight into the machine. Creating a visual language throughout the home, the palettes in this and the ground floor laundry are borrowed from the bathrooms, with the same Pietre di Paragone Gré Bianco wall and floor tiles from Casa Italiana, Melteca Oiled Legno timber veneer cabinetry and benchtops in Corian Rain Cloud.

“I think laundries should make you feel good,” says Evelyn. “Laundry is one of those things we all do so often, but rarely do we get to enjoy the space we do it in. Providing a laundry that’s less of a cupboard and has good natural light, a well-considered material palette and highly functional details like a hanging rail for more delicate items turns a chore into something much more enjoyable.”
There’s not much that can’t be enjoyed at this address, and Evelyn says its occupants have nothing but praise for how well it’s working for them. “They’re really celebrating spending time together. In this fast-paced world, creating opportunities to relax with family and friends has become even more important. I hope this house continues to offer that for this family.”  

Words Philippa Prentice
Photography Simon Wilson

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