Purple carpet. It’s not the average request, but that’s what the owners of this home wanted, so that’s what they got. They also acquired a blue front door, apricot walls, chequerboard flooring, jungle wallpaper, a glasshouse wing and, says homeowner Holly Turner, “when I said I wanted three disco balls in the kitchen, Janice said, ‘Don’t be silly, that’s a bit naff. You can have two, though!’”
Holly says nothing was too hard or too wacky for director of JK-W Interior Architecture & Design Janice Kumar-Ward during the renovation of the heritage home Holly shares with her family in Ōtepoti/Dunedin’s Māori Hill. If disco balls make dishwashing fun and lilac carpet in the lounge was non-negotiable, it was a case of so be it.
Although a steadfast focus was placed on the sensitive restoration of the house, Janice says the updated interior aesthetic was informed by its owners’ personalities. “I wanted it to encapsulate Holly’s vibrancy and bravery, [husband] Sam’s practical and tasteful narrative and their incredible collection of art, and to create memorable moments that anyone who enters will take with them when they leave,” says Janice. “Holly’s colour-mad and has incredible taste in fashion, so my approach was to go as wild as we could. Of course, the house had its own vibe and was full of treasures.”
Built in 1921, the six-bedroom Arts & Crafts-esque dwelling is one of the more significant private residences designed by late architect and former president of the New Zealand Institute of Architects Harry Mandeno. Brick with a Moeraki gravel pebbledash finish, it had already been updated twice: split into three flats in 1973 and adjusted again in the mid-’90s. The resulting interior had an odd flow and was cold, damp and rundown, so alongside Janice, architects Mason & Wales were engaged, with Hamish Muir and Matthew Barbour leading the project that sought to modernise the home in a way that respected and enhanced the original design while retaining its historical highlights.
Holly and Sam and their kids Arthur (now 12), Duke (10) and Indiana (8) were living in Hong Kong when they invited their friends Janice and Hamish to help make their new house habitable by the time they moved home to Aotearoa from Asia — in just five months. Challenge accepted, Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland-based Janice flew down as soon as the property deal was done and viewed the house with JJ Oskam Builders project foreman Grant Rees.
“At this stage, it was two flats that were colder than the snow we were standing in outside,” she says. “The brief was clear: ‘How are we going to live in this house, Janice? It cannot be beige and it has to be memorable.’”
Her first move was to work with the builders and Jake Lanauze of Southern Electrical to make the home safe and warm, through new and repaired roofing, guttering, flooring, plumbing, wiring, insulation, door hardware and more. With that underway, she set about ordering decorative items like lighting and tiles, wallpaper and bathroomware, so the family-of-five-plus-puppy could make themselves at home before the construction of the glasshouse extension by Mason & Wales began.
To address the challenge of integrating such a modern addition in a way that works practically and aesthetically, the architects investigated a number of different design options, including alterations within the home’s existing footprint, but it became obvious that a new wing would deliver more bang for Holly and Sam’s buck.
The resulting annex replaces the original meat safe, coal store and back porch, and mimics the simple, hipped-roof form of the existing washroom and wood store that sit alongside it. “More than just a conservation-type approach, the addition provides more character and contemporary detailing and building technologies, while respecting the original form and strengthening its integrity and heft,” says Hamish. “Although the detailing and materiality are lightweight and delicate compared to the original, the building form and proportions are basically identical.”
The extension provides a new kitchen; links to a family room repurposed from the existing kitchen and a new scullery, laundry and powder room; and connects to the outdoor spaces and garden designed by another of Holly’s friends, landscape architect Louise Dunning Morrow of Noble Fox. The reconfiguration of these primary living areas has allowed the more formal original dining and seating spaces to be preserved with their character enhanced, which ensures they’re regularly used and enjoyed by family and friends.
The walls of the extension are effectively completely glazed, with the windows and door openings in a dark metal finish. The matching roof is modulated into wide trays and has an integrated rooflight that drenches the kitchen with natural light.
“The extensive use of glazing is relatively unconventional in Dunedin; however, the high-performance glass and good heating and ventilation, along with the quality of the connections to the outdoor living and landscaped areas, gave us the confidence do this, and have proven to provide great spaces to live and entertain in,” says Hamish.
“What’s good about a home of this scale is that there are separate rooms that cohesively talk to each other but hold their own,” says Janice. “There’s a lot to be said about not being open-plan, and having spaces that take on different personalities and set the scene for their function.”
There’s certainly boundless charm and heaps of history in this house. Harry’s hand-drawn, original floorplans hang on the wall in a hall, but Holly says the most special thing for her was showing 102-year-old Honor McKellar around the house her parents built. The celebrated former opera singer, singing teacher and QSM now lives in a retirement village just up the road, but there remains a stone plaque in the garden dedicated to her mother, who loved to tend her roses.
“When Honor last visited, she was walking up the staircase when she stopped and said a memory had just hit her of being a little girl running up the stairs being chased because she refused to eat the lettuce in her dinner,” says Holly. “She’s amazing. It was very cool to see her chatting to Artie about how his room was her room when she was growing up.”
“The home is so different to how it was, it’s like yin and yang,” says Janice. “It’s sad to look back at what wasn’t able to be restored because it was so dilapidated, but now the various unique spaces mean the house is formal without being ostentatious, approachable without being overbearing… There really is something for everyone.”