Inside Superette co-owner Rickie Dee’s Pt Chevalier bungalow reno

With architect John Irving, Colab Group, Toni Brandso of Material Creative, and landscapers SGLA, she and husband Olly Kaulima got their ultra-contemporary upgrade just right. 

It’s a dilemma many of us face at some point. As our family grows bigger along with our weekly grocery bills, do we renovate our existing abode or sell up and search for one that’s a better fit? For Rickie Dee and Onny Kaulima, the former option was the perfect choice. From the street, their Pt Chevalier home looks like your typical Auckland bungalow, with weatherboard cladding and bay windows showcasing the architecture of its time. Step inside, though, and it exceeds expectations, the interior having been updated by a strikingly modern renovation. It’s a clever trick that’s created exactly the juxtaposition the couple were after. But it didn’t happen overnight.

MAIN IMAGE Inside, where the walls are in Resene Alabaster, meals are served at a Hudson dining table on Maki chairs all from St Clements, below a Tri pendant by Resident from Simon James. The concrete sculptures are by Levi Hawken, the vase is from St Clements and the framed photograph, Nostalgia, is by Reuben James. TOP Onny, Kai, Rickie and Rocco on their Cannes outdoor suite from Freedom. ABOVE The louvre roof system over the deck is great for all-weather entertaining and complements the linear forms of the battened wall in the living area, exterior cladding and first-floor bedroom windows.

Rickie, Onny and their three children lived in the original three-bedroom home for four years before embarking on the reinvention. “Although we really loved our home, we simply outgrew it,” says Rickie. “We needed more space and a lot more light, but we love our neighbourhood, so we decided to stay put.”
Decision made to upgrade, which architect they’d engage to achieve the transformation was never in question. “When Rocco was born, we used to walk around Ponsonby with him in his buggy, doing the rounds along John Street, where one of John Irving’s renovations stood out to us,” says Onny. “It was a design he became known for, with the front facade kept as the original bungalow and the back transformed by a contemporary design. We loved it, and 10 years later when it was our time to renovate, we knew he was the guy.”

TOP On this side of the battened stained cedar wall that divides the living area into two distinct yet connected spaces are Tonk stools and a Joe sofa by St Clements teamed with a vase by Tom Dixon, cushions by Injiri and Madame Stoltz from Superette, and a rug by Armadillo from The Ivy House. The Canadian oak flooring throughout the house is by Forté and custom-coloured to be light and bright. ABOVE Cabinetry crafted by Fluid Interiors using the same Super White granite as the kitchen discreetly hides the TV. Carvings by Lee Ralph keep an eye on things beside it. The Azteca Temple oil burner by Mr Pinchy & Co, crystals and books are from Superette, and the sculpture is a memento from a trip to Bali.

Rickie and Onny’s property provided plenty of space to extend, but good things really do take time. The couple spent a full year at the concept stage and eight months at the resource-consent stage before the building finally began. Then the family of five, plus their cat and dog, moved out and stayed with Rickie’s parents for almost a year while the construction by Colab Group was underway.

ABOVE Here, a Boxster sofa from St Clements sits with a coffee table from Indie Home Collective decorated with a vase from Blush Flowers, and a Tribe Bone tray by Mr Pinchy & Co and No 27 Fragrance House candle both from Superette. The statement concrete surrounding the Escea fireplace gives the home a certain rawness, lit by black downlights by Brightgreen from ECC set into the tongue- and-groove ceiling.

It goes without saying that these two aren’t afraid to push their limits, and in this case it’s really paid off. The home now has large living spaces inside and out, an entertainers’ kitchen with a separate scullery, five double bedrooms and two bathrooms. A panelled light well above the floating stairs in the entryway divides the house in half, flooding the downstairs kitchen area and upstairs dressing room with natural light, while casting intriguing shadows. Upstairs, two black steel bridges leading from the main bedroom to the ensuite and walk-in wardrobe/dressing room allow a view down into the living zones, offering interesting new angles and sight lines.

ABOVE In the kitchen decorated with large-scale artwork Fears by Sonia Welford, Super White granite from CDK Stone continues the monochrome scheme with Osso stools by Mattiazzi from Simon James, Gaggenau appliances and accent tapware by Zucchetti Kos from Robertson. Surveying the scene from the steps are ceramic Candymen by Simon Lewis.

For specific design decisions involving elements such as the kitchen, bathrooms and dressing room, the couple engaged the services of interior designer Toni Brandso of Material Creative. “We knew what we wanted and Toni helped us to achieve it,” says Rickie, pointing out that this process was also a long game. “We finished the house in November 2018, yet I only had my wardrobe installed this September. We were being careful not to overspend, and I knew if the areas the kids enjoy were sorted, I could wait for the rest. I wanted my dressing room highly spec-ed, and it’s so awesome now to have a home for everything.”

TOP A view to the dressing room is offered from the front door, where a light well creates a welcoming feel and ever-changing patterns on the walls and floor. ABOVE & MIDDLE Super White granite appears again in the dressing room, where the doors look like they lead into a wardrobe but instead open onto the ensuite, and a Bleeker ottoman from Coco Republic is an extra touch of luxe. Rickie’s home office is also tucked into this space. You can see the black bridges that connect to the bedroom in the background of these shots.

Today, this dwelling ticks all of the family’s boxes, and the extra time hanging out in it thanks to Covid-19 has highlighted just how well John and Toni nailed the brief. “We’ve really enjoyed spending so much time here lately, and after busy work weeks, I look forward to weekends at home with the kids,” says Rickie. “We love staying local. Friday night is always Uber Eats or dinner out at a nearby eatery, and Sundays are all about family lunch and having friends over.”
In fact, Onny’s mother Nellie lives here too, and his eldest son Jason Panapa lives just around the corner and visits most days. “We’ve always got people stopping in, and the barbecue and outdoor fire are often cranked up to feed guests,” says Rickie. “It’s the perfect space for it.”

TOP Photographs by Tom Gould beautify the couple’s sleep space along with bedding by In Bed from Superette, a light fitting and cushions from Indie Home Collective, and bedside tables from SM Interiors. ABOVE Set below a skylight that bathes it in rays, the shower in the ensuite is fitted out with mosaic finger tiles from Tile Space on the walls (that segue nicely into a built-in ledge that houses self-care items) and large-format tiles from Artedomus on the floor. The tapware by Elementi from Robertson echoes the cabinetry handles by Powersurge. The handy, hardy Arnold Circus stool is by Martino Gamper.

This year, they’ll continue their tradition and invite their extended family for lunch on Christmas Day. Friends will also flit in and out, but that’s no big deal in this house. The new indoor-outdoor flow is designed to facilitate these types of gatherings, with wide sliding doors opening the house onto the backyard landscaped by SGLA. Along with the covered outdoor room with its fireplace, heated swimming pool and spa, it’s a combination that ensures this city-fringe pad can be enjoyed year-round.  

TOP “The kids have double beds, but Kai has only spent three nights in hers because they all room-hop,”
says Rickie. “They don’t want to be alone.” “Even the cat and dog jump in,” adds Onny. Rocco’s room is the kids’ favourite destination when they want to watch movies. Its décor includes a pendant light by Ay Illuminte from Indie Home Collective, a velvet throw and matching pillowcases from Città, a bench seat from Mocka and carpet from Cavalier Bremworth. ABOVE Kai’s room features an artwork by Blacklist from Superette; a throw, duvet, and velvet and cacti cushions from Città; and a cloud cushion from Nature Baby.

Words Holly Jean Brooker
Photography Simon Wilson

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