A series of special moments at Lloyd Hartley Architects Herne Bay Hideaway

In association with First Windows & Doors.

If life is made up of moments, this Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland alteration and extension project might be a metaphor for it. The first happy happening was a serendipitous run-in that saw Mike Hartley of Lloyd Hartley Architects get chatting to one of the homeowners at a party, only to discover he and his wife were in the market for someone just like him and his practice partner Ben Lloyd. “And we’d just received our brand spanking new business cards that very morning, so it was like, ‘Well yes, I’ve got our business card — give us a call!’”

MAIN IMAGE & TOP The sophisticated entry was designed to be somewhere life can take place. “Our ability to scoop out more space in the lobby made a big difference [to the existing dwelling],” says Ben of this zone featuring custom windows from First Windows & Doors. “There’s covered space to greet people, to step back, and to have that moment before you go up the stairs.” Mike adds: “The wall in the hallway hides all the shoes, all the kids’ stuff, bags, but you’ve still got this moment of beauty. And it works in both directions — part of it’s about arrival, but it’s also about the long goodbye. You know how people kind of linger and you have those final conversations? We wanted to give them that chance to rest, and in some cases sit down and maybe even crack open another beer on that bottom step and just sort their lives out!” ABOVE The joinery in Duratec Matt Black (including these APL Architectural Series stacker sliding doors and Metro Series clerestory windows) blends beautifully with the landscape, external cladding and interior colour palette for an enduring look Mike describes as “great forever”.
The homeowners and their young children had been living in their Herne Bay property’s existing 1960s home for several years when they met Mike — long enough to know what was great about the sloping, west-facing site overlooking Cox’s Bay (interesting topography, an unbelievable vista), what they appreciated about the house (its sturdy brick-and-tile structure) and what they wanted to change (the poky rooms, the lack of connection to the outdoors, the unfortunate garage doors that greeted you when you reached the end of the long driveway).
“It was about engaging with all the views and the sunset out to the west, but also trying to connect to the hillside, so we had intimate moments as well as great expanses,” says Ben.

TOP A black aluminium all-weather roof that matches the joinery and a warming fireplace with a garapa timber surround that morphs into the deck turn this corner of the outdoor space into a comfortable spot in which to socialise year-round. ABOVE The APL Architectural Series stacker sliding doors seen here in the dining area (and opposite, linking the main living space with the west-facing deck) have flush sills for easy indoor-outdoor access.

Forging a link with the landscape while creating a sense of arrival from the driveway was Ben and Mike’s first design move — one that resulted in another a-ha moment. “I’d scribbled a note on a Post-it, taken a photo and sent it to Mike,” says Ben.
“But it never came through,” says Mike. “We caught up a few days later and Ben was like, ‘What did you think of that first move?’ — and as I replied, ‘What first move?’ my phone went ‘Ping!’ It popped up right then and it was like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s really good. We should do that.’”

ABOVE The sunset-soaked bench seat in the main living area is the place to be in the early evening.

Doing away with the unsightly garage and actioning Ben’s idea made a feature — the home’s first special moment — of a covered carport and handsome entry lobby that offers plenty of room for life to happen well away from cars. From this first arrival point, you have to climb to the existing home’s second storey in order to engage with the outlook — something that goes against the grain for Kiwis, who like to step out onto the lawn. To cater to this, Mike says, “another key moment in the design process was questioning how we could create ‘bridges’ from the house out into the site. By lengthening the building, we were able to reach out and touch [the hillside] and access it through the joinery at that end of the upstairs hallway.”

TOP It’s easy at spectacular sites to focus on the vista as the one big showpiece, but here the architects have ensured many other facets of the home also shine, such as the kitchen, with its pitched ceiling and biscuit-hued wall in planked, brushed American oak veneer leading into the scullery. ABOVE Early on in the project, the team had a discussion about wanting to create a colour and material palette that was of its time, but timeless. With veining reminiscent of pōhutukawa branches, the quartzite used for the kitchen benches kickstarted a selection of complementary additions after the homeowners fell in love with it. Above the side bench, a Metro Series sliding window handily puts the barbecue within reach.

This home dubbed the Herne Bay Hideaway champions more of a slow reveal than an instant ta-dah, inviting you to step into several special zones in the building before you’re dazzled by the flashy main event — the mic-drop of a view in the open-plan living space. This second moment of arrival sees the bay revealed through more joinery from First Windows & Doors that lets you not only see the seascape but also step out into it through APL Architectural Series stacker sliding doors in the dining area and playroom, and APL Architectural Series sliding doors elsewhere.
“The views and access were really important, and so was getting lots of light into the living spaces — and having those great expanses of glass definitely helped with that,” says Ben.

TOP Natural hues, including the blues and browns in this artwork, Harmonic End by Grace Wright, also draw the colours seen outside in. In the stairwell, “There’s that sort of haptic moment with the brass of the front door rolling through into the brass of the handrail and leading you up,” says Ben. “Interestingly, the stair structure is actually a retrofit of the existing stair.” ABOVE Ben and Mike like to place as strong a focus on the smaller spaces in their homes as they do the larger ones. Floor-to-ceiling mosaic tiles that echo the tones of the pendant light, tapware and basin help to make this powder room exceptional.

In the living and dining areas, First Windows & Doors ThermalHeart roof windows and Metro Series clerestory windows usher in even more rays and allow the home’s inhabitants to watch the clouds by day and the stars and moon at night, something Mike describes as “magical”.
Another of the wow moments he and Ben created was in the ensuite, where the shower is topped by a roof window “with none of the joinery showing, because of the way we were able to detail it — you’ve just got stone going right up to the sky. At certain times of the day, you get dappled light coming down through the pōhutukawa and it feels like you’re showering outside.”

TOP With narrow frames designed to maximise the view, more APL Architectural Series sliding doors and custom windows combine with First Windows & Doors louvres in the main bedroom. This sleep space (and the laundry beside it) has the pleasure of its own private deck, which borrows an elegant view of the neighbours’ tennis court without sacrificing privacy and provides an external connection to the home’s lower level. ABOVE Like the one at the entrance to the main living space, this roof window by First Windows & Doors above the ensuite shower is thermally broken to retain heat. Its ThermalHeart technology sees an additional insulator stitched into the core of the aluminium window system, keeping warm and cold areas separated for a drier, healthier home that’s cosier in winter yet cooler in summer.

Actually, this entire room is replete with First Windows & Doors Metro Series windows, and Mike says, “It was a bit surprising for us to be able to put that much glazing into a bathroom yet have it feel entirely comfortable, but it’s completely private because of the garden nature of it, and the external louvres guide you forward over the view of the neighbours’ tennis court and out to the trees along the cliff line.”

TOP & ABOVE First Windows & Doors louvres also feature in the ensuite, offering bathers the option to easily connect with the garden if they wish to. “Bathrooms are often highly tactile, which gives us an opportunity to experiment with materials and textures,” says Mike of this luxurious private zone that expertly responded to the brief for a spa-like sanctuary. “It’s so much fun.”

“There are certainly plenty of little moments here that are really nice — all of those things that we spent a lot of time labouring over,” says Ben. “It’s great to see people enjoying this house and adding their own flourishes to it.”
Moment by moment, piece by piece — and so are the days of our lives. 

Words Philippa Prentice
Photography Simon Wilson

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