At this house renovated by Pac Studio, connection is celebrated on several levels

When it comes to design, Deb Brown loves corners. “They drive sociability,” she says. “If you’re at a pub, people always gravitate to where two bench seats meet because that’s where the talking takes place.” She applied this theory on a larger scale to the revamped layout of her family’s 1930s bungalow in Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland. She knew that if she based its design on an ‘L’ shape, the angle would create a courtyard and social connection that a home of a different configuration might not.

TOP To update the front of the house, revamped by C&C Renovations, the couple repainted the exterior in Resene Half Black White and replaced the windows with heritage-look modern versions. ABOVE When it came to the garden, Deb provided landscapers Babylon Gardens with a brief with a photo board in hand. “My goal was a garden in which you can’t see the soil, with rambling groundcovers and different grasses, and species that spread at varying heights and textures,” she says. The result celebrates texture and colour as much as the inside of the house does. Making a statement in this space are a Circle table and Click chairs by Houe from Homage.

Client service director Deb and her creative director husband Chris Schofield bought their Point Chevalier do-up in 2017, having lived elsewhere in the neighbourhood for a decade. The orientation of the long, thin site that faces the wrong way for the afternoon sun meant the L-shape worked, creating a courtyard in the centre for gatherings and allowing light to come in through the back of the home. “The house sits at the front of the section, giving us a blank canvas out the back,” says Deb.

TOP Autumnal tones abound in the highly textured, social kitchen space. The bricks were a must-have, and further interest has been added to this material by the way they’ve been laid — horizontally on the wall and vertically on the island. “I had a thing about playing with bricks in different formats,” says Deb. “I used vertical bricks on the island because I thought it’d look dinky, and because my Auntie Robyn had brickwork in her house and they remind me of her.” For the cabinetry, Deb was inspired by the timber interior of local Peruvian-Japanese restaurant Azabu, and asked Cameron Grey of Construct Cabinetry to visit the venue so he could see the tone of the oak she sought to emulate. ABOVE In the courtyard, the team made a decision to continue the overhead cedar down into a wall to create an interesting detail for the entryway that delineates between the old and new parts of the house. Aaron explains it also accommodates the hidden sloping roof. “The eave works as a gutter, running around the building,” he says.

From the start of the renovation, Deb knew just how she wanted the dwelling to look and feel. Whether the width of the door profiles or the proportions of the hallway, her vision was clear. “My passion is design — it’s my hobby” she says. “That helped me enormously.”

TOP The picture window in the dining room also works as a window seat. “We like to observe the pool year-round as if it’s a big piece of art,” says Deb, “[and] the deep seat means it’s a regular morning hang-out for the kids when they wake up — they can often be found lying on it in the sun with the cat.” Around the dining table bought years ago at a concrete company clearance sale are vintage Cesca chairs by Marcel Breuer from Babelogue, plus vintage 4455 chairs by Niko Kralj from Good Form at either end. The pendant light is from Tigmi Trading in Byron Bay and the candlesticks were a Trade Me score. ABOVE Meeting the rear bench in Corian Glacier White, bullnose-edged tiles from Heath Ceramics bring depth to the splashback and utility ledge, where “regulars” such as the butter dish, salt and pepper are kept. Deb’s a collector of pottery and earthenware that she’s picked up here and there over the years from makers and shops including her friend Louise Garbett of Garbett Pots, Hayley Bridgford and Wonder Journal. On the lower shelves, she stores frequently used vessels, bowls, platters and cups, and the glass and cork cannisters from Città and Douglas & Bec in which she stores dry goods, while on the upper shelves are few other collectables, such as a casserole dish by La Chamba.
The couple upgraded the front of the “pretty rough old house with 1970s wallpaper and cracked windows but good bones” before they moved in, installing a $1000 kitchen they bought off Trade Me in what’s now the TV room and turning the smallest bedroom into a bathroom. This allowed them and their daughters Ava (15) and Pearl (12) to live in the front of the house while the renovation took place at the rear.

ABOVE Deb (pictured with Pearl, who’s sitting on an Ulrik stool by SCP from Bob & Friends) knew exactly what she wanted from the outset of the renovation. “I’m a wannabe, should’ve-been architect,” she says of her not-so-secret passion for design. “It was important to get the proportions right for the kitchen, so I taped out the footprint, even measuring how much space would be left to walk through it when the dishwasher door is open.” She chose some striking Mare Giallo Quartzite from Artedomus for the island bench that’s just as beautiful to touch as it is to look at. The Lateral pendant light overhead is by Powersurge.

On paper, Deb sketched a detailed design that embraced openness but wasn’t open plan. “We had a good sense of how we wanted the spaces to work relative to each other,” she says. “We wanted connections between them, but not to always be in the same space. That was increasingly a requirement as the kids grew up. We needed a place where we could have people over and all the kids could congregate separately.”

TOP On its walls in Aalto Unbeknown, the TV room showcases a vintage artwork from Flotsam & Jetsam — a wedding gift from Deb’s parents. The Joe sofa is from St Clements and the rug is from Babelogue. Beyond this space, steps leading down to the living area define where the original house ends and the addition begins. ABOVE Painted in Aalto Powdered Wig, the living space is one of the few rooms in the house that doesn’t have colourful walls. As well as the Cheminees Philippe fire from FL Bone (freestanding on the concrete shelf poured in situ) and kauri-slab-turned-coffee-table bought off Trade Me, it’s beautified by finds including an artwork, Industrial Sunshine, by Jordy Kerwick; a Banks Lantern from The Society Inc; a pair of chairs from Freedom; a tall vase by Jaime Jenkins and a rug from House of Haghi.

Friend and architect Aaron Paterson of Pac Studio ran with Deb’s ideas, creating a concept plan that realised her love of mid-century design, with a focus on floor-to-ceiling glass facing the courtyard. They retained the two front bedrooms for the girls and extended another to form the main bedroom. This connects to the central TV room, which can be closed off with sliders. From here, the main living space, semi-detached from the kitchen and dining area, opens through more sliders to meet the cobbled courtyard, lawn and pool. The original hallway joining it all was maintained; “I love how when you open the front door, the length of the house is visible,” says Deb.

TOP & ABOVE With this room, Deb aimed to create “a soothing space you’d walk into and just go, ‘Aah’.” In terms of the fittings and fixtures, she had her heart set on a bath that was the same width as the shower, which ended up being a find from Stone Baths. All surrounded by serene grey-green Cinca Porcelina mosaic tiles from Artedomus, other key elements of this space are the vanity custom-made with a top from Stone Baths; Buddy tapware by Progetto and Cubo 45 towel rails by Avenir, both from Plumbline; and a Glo-Ball wall light by Flos from ECC. The Ghanaian laundry basket is from Madder & Rouge and the towels are by Baina.

Colour and tactility bring everything together and welcome you in. Texture is important to Deb, and she introduced it through the architecture and fittings. “It removes the stress of buying extra stuff,” she says. “The richness lies in the materials and the connection between them and the spaces.”
This is most apparent in the kitchen, which is characterised by a 3.8m island and textured tiles. What adds the most drama, though, is its brick walls. “I didn’t want a series of white walls,” says Deb. “Brick is a key mid-century material, and I thought if I could pull that in, it’d add a whole lot of texture and warmth.”

TOP On the walls in the main bedroom is Resene Half Wafer, the bedside cabinets are second-hand, the lamps are from Restoration Hardware, the bedspread and rectangular cushion are from Città, the Disc Squab cushion is by Klay and the artwork is an Etsy piece Deb hung in a frame she cleverly rescued from a rubbish pile. On the other side of the wall behind the bed is a walk-in wardrobe that links to the ensuite. ABOVE One day, Deb came home to discover Ava had made this photo wall in her bedroom, explaining that she wanted to blend her mum and dad’s memories with her own, so people could see how they and she grew up. “There’s me as a baby, my parents as babies, my grandparents and my great-grandparents,” she says. “I told Mum that if one day I feel like I’ve lived a life like that wall, it will have been a life well lived.” Light from an original leadlight window combines with an Alto sconce from Cedar & Moss attached to the wall in Resene Quarter Periglacial Blue. The throw and pillowcases are from Città and the white bed linen is from Bed Bath N’ Table.

Colour provides another layer of character. The hallway walls are a light blue-green and there’s a darker version of this in the TV room. The tiles on the walls and floor of the main bathroom are a smoky grey-green, and soft pink keeps the main bedroom sweet. Meanwhile, décor details steal the spotlight in the white-walled living space, particularly the freestanding fire and the large kauri slab Chris sanded to form a tabletop.
Deb’s love of mid-century style is also evident in the schist crazy paving in the courtyard. “When I grew up with crazy paving, I thought it was old-fashioned and awful, but I’ve loved it ever since,” she says. “I knew it’d feel good underfoot.”
It makes sense that these pavers resonate nostalgically with Deb, in a spot designed so perfectly for gathering with loved ones, in that magic corner. 

Words Catherine Steel
Photography Duncan Innes

Filed under:

error: Copyright The Pluto Group Ltd 2022 - contact us for usage licence

Homestyle shares
modern ways
to make a home
in New Zealand

Sign up to receive the latest in your inbox

Thanks for subscribing to Homestyle's newsletter - we'll be in touch soon.