The secret service behind Rogan Nash Architects’ Kitchen, Baker, Coffee-maker project

An invisible thread runs through this home, just hidden from view. At first glance, you won’t see it, yet the lifestyle-led ways in which it’s woven in are a major reason why this renovation’s been game-changing.
On a sunny site in Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland’s Glendowie, the house was built in the 1950s and updated in around the late ’80s. For a while it worked just fine for its current owners, a family of five, but eventually its dark, damp, disjointed, low-ceilinged living spaces, random post in the middle of the kitchen and lack of connection to the garden had simply outstayed their welcome.

ABOVE Maximum flexibility is achieved in the kitchen with the 4m island. It’s curved at one end, so everyone can gather around it, which also means that when you’ve got guests, it doesn’t feel as if you’re in a bar serving customers — it’s more friendly. The Deflated pendant lights are by Lukeke Design, the Buddy tapware over the sink by Mercer is from Plumbline, and the Form bar stools by Normann Copengahen are from Backhouse.

Briefed primarily to bring in contemporary touches and links between indoors and out, architects Kate Rogan and Eva Nash of Rogan Nash (with builders Create & Construct) set out to make the entire property the absolute best for their clients, purposefully taking as much care to enhance the behind-the-scenes elements as make the public areas pop. Nowhere is this strategy more apparent than in the now open-plan main living space. Here, the original home’s high-pitched roof previously blocked by that low ceiling became the bones of the lofty cathedral upgrade that’s a high note at the rear of the house, a zone that now encompasses an expertly proportioned kitchen, the dining and living areas (including a separate snug) — and some buried treasures.

ABOVE The five-bedroom home’s open-plan living area offers ample storage, including the shelves above the sliding, battened box that houses the TV. The bespoke macrame wallhanging on the right is by The Everyday Makers of Australia’s Mirboo North, the sofa is from Lounge Design, the Cartesio dining table is by Calligaris from Dawson & Co and the chairs are from Cintesi. Artwork hangs on the other side of the screened TV too — a painting by local artist Carl Foster (seen below).

“We introduced a kitchen that’s ideal for a family and an entertainer’s delight; it makes that whole area glow,” says Kate. That’s plain to see, but here’s what’s not: appliances integrated within timber cabinetry opened not via visible handles but by crafted batten frames; a scullery/laundry that keeps day-to- day mess out of sight behind a door of reeded glass that lets in light yet obscures the view through; a connection to a private service court for the rubbish bins, clothesline, vege garden and bike shed; a study that disappears behind a sliding door; and a clever screen that glides up and down to reveal and conceal the TV.
“But not only that,” says Eva. “In the scullery/laundry, there’s actually a secret passage to the bathroom, so washing can be pushed through the bathroom wall via a chute, where it falls into the laundry basket ready to go!”

ABOVE The new family bathroom features Supreme Silver wall tiles from European Ceramics (affixed to which is the pull for the laundry chute), finger mosaics from Artedomus and Vogue Grey floor tiles from Tile Space, with gunmetal Buddy tapware from Plumbline and stained oak vanities designed by Rogan Nash. The couple weren’t keen on mirrored cabinets, which freed Kate and Eva up to install wall lights beside the mirror without fear of it opening onto them. These are Mini Glo Balls by Flos from ECC. The Curve Corner bath is by BathCo.

“Making things functional is essential,” Eva continues. “For example, we always talk about storage and making sure we’ve got enough because, as Kate says, ‘If you’ve got somewhere to put it, you’ll do it, but if you don’t, you won’t.’”
“I think if you have those discussions early on in a project and you’re not just thinking about the exciting things, like what the kitchen’s going to be like, some of those practical elements can become part of the beauty of the design,” adds Kate.

ABOVE This zone captures so much natural light that the couple rarely need to turn on the electric ones. At night, the track lighting has an important part to play; it’s ideal for a cathedral ceiling due to the flexibility it offers to direct the beams. While also improving heat retention, the new joinery offers
a layered view right up to the top garden plane that’s elevated above the floor level of the house.

The beauty here is also in the natural materials, neutral colours and interesting textures that are linked thematically to a mid-century aesthetic throughout the house to make the whole thing sing. Notice this tactic in the vertical grooves cohesively repeated on the kitchen island, glass doors, living room ceiling, timber TV screen and outdoor fire surround.

ABOVE Crown-cut oak veneer was carefully stained by DBJ to complement the Moda Sorrento flooring by Forté before being crafted into cabinetry, which in the kitchen is paired with Grigio Mare marble from Italian Stone in the splashback and benchtops. The kitchen also has a lovely large Fisher & Paykel gas and induction hob, above which is an undermount rangehood by Schweigen and a ledge designed for display of objects that the couple can change out to refresh the room as the mood strikes.

More reeded glass doors link the open-plan zone to the snug. Like the study nook and the couple’s new bedroom suite, this room embodies another underlying design principal — one Kate and Eva like to call ‘together alone’. “When you have a big family all together in the house, you need to have a place for yourself too,” says Kate. “We all need to have those moments when we can retreat and when we can shine. That’s how you keep everyone happy.”

ABOVE Babylon Gardens brought Kate and Eva’s design for the outdoor fireplace to life. Sitting on the same axis as its indoor counterpart (which starts at the kitchen at one end and continues through to the pool at the other — a gorgeous line of sight), it also echoes the inside fire in terms of the colour and scale of the tiles. The outdoor Ranger sofa by Cove Outdoor is from Dawson & Co.

At the front of the property, the entryway now has a stronger presence created by new timber and steel work, planting by landscapers Babylon Gardens, and a slatted screen (outside) and skylight (inside) overhead. Beside this, the new freestanding garage is as crucial for storing scooters and sports equipment as it is for vehicles.
The previously tacked-on garage has been reimagined as the couple’s calming hideaway, comprising a big bedroom, a walk-in wardrobe and an ensuite, all attached to a secluded courtyard. The old bathroom has been moved and fitted out to echo the ensuite, while the original bedrooms remain in place but are revamped with new wardrobes and a new window exchanged for the skylight that was impractical for children’s early bedtimes.

ABOVE Previously uninviting, the revamped entry now draws you in with a palette of materials that set the tone for the rest of the house, plus a screen and skylight that moderate the transition as you move from outside in.

To this uplifting and easy-to-live-in interior, there’s now an easeful connection to the substantial backyard that’s centred around a new outdoor fireplace that leads you towards the pool, the jungle gym and another camouflaged element — a sunken trampoline introduced by Babylon. Even the strip of grass alongside the pool has been rationalised, so the kids can now kick a ball up and down it.
“When we talk to a client, we ask how they spend their days, how they’d be using each space and how it’d work for them,” says Kate. “Then we can tweak it to make it really personal — and I think that’s the thing that improves a person’s life.”

ABOVE The home’s exterior has an alpine lodge-like look, which Babylon Gardens riffed off when specifying the schist stepping stones that lead you around and up to the garden at the back of the property, gracefully integrated with groundcovers beside a pleached hedge of tītoki trees.

Quick with a quip, Kate and Eva could make any home makeover fun, and with five degrees between them, they really know their stuff. Here, their considerable nous has achieved a beautiful, practical, lifestyle-enhancing outcome that’s also sustainably focused.
“It’s great to tack on things like the rainwater retention tanks we have here, or solar panels, but they’re not always appropriate and come with a price tag, so we think about the fundamentals that are inherent in the design first, like getting enough sunlight in,” says Eva. “If we can reduce energy usage by harnessing natural light so we don’t have to turn all the lights on all the time and upgrading the joinery to help retain heat, that’s an easy win that also contributes to the long-term usability of the house. Also, it’s often overlooked, but being able to reuse, recycle or repurpose existing rooms to avoid waste — and in this case the roofline and pool as well — is great for the budget and the environment. We also believe in the ‘hard-working plan’, so if you can make something multipurpose or sneak in little nooks here and there, you double up on functionality.”

ABOVE Subtle hints of mid-century detailing throughout the design — and seen here in the stone wall Babylon Gardens added around the pool — are a nod to the home’s 1950s beginnings and the couple’s style preference.

“We’re just so into design, we can’t help ourselves!” laughs Kate. “When there’s a design problem, we just want to solve it.”
Thanks to the success of that, there’s another thing you can’t see in these photos — just how happy the homeowners are. “We look at their pieces in the spaces and it just feels like it’s their home,” says Kate. “That’s the kind of thing that really delights Eva and I — knowing that this house really is their house and works perfectly for them.”  

Words Philippa Prentice
Photography Simon Wilson

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.