Bungalow renovation by interior designers

There was a time when the residents of this house felt as if they lived on top of each other. Now Mum, Dad and their two daughters are doing so in a different, entirely more enjoyable way, after a renovation that’s resulted in not one, not two, but three levels stacked with more than enough room for everyone, the finest design, and family-friendly functionality.

TOP & ABOVE Supernatural Diptych 5 by Anna Church hangs in the main living space on the central level, where a Geo cone from Città and an Osaka bowl by 101 Copenhagen from Frobisher are arranged on Luna tables by Woodwrights. The Kingsview sofa designed in collaboration with Woodwrights is one of several bespoke pieces that dot this dwelling. A textural timber wall dreamed up by Tomi and Alex eases you in from the hallway, facing the plastered wall behind the fire that also brings definition to this long, narrow area.

Joining the Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland project when construction by Boyd Cox was underway on Brave Architects’ plans for a new, full-height basement floor containing the girls’ bedrooms and bathroom, rumpus room, laundry and garage, interior designers Alex McLeod and Tomi Williams of were tasked with reimagining the kitchen on the second storey and the third-storey master suite, as well as providing direction on a complete interior fit-out and furnishings.

ABOVE & TOP “The challenge of this kitchen was that it’s a relatively small space in a large, open-plan area,” says Tomi. “To overcome that, we anchored a simple layout with strong features in the form of the island in Super White granite from Italian Stone and splashback made using Marmala tumbled mosaic tiles from Artedomus.” Cut into the space behind to gain more room, the scullery (top) draws you in with its cabinetry in Resene Half Washed Green. Some of the items seen here and in the main image at the top of this page include a black Duck bowl by 101 Copenhagen and matching Bonsai bowl by Kelly Hoppen from Frobisher; an AJ press coffee maker by Stelton, Sampa boards, a tall Fossil vase and a Grove dish from Città; and a tiered Terrace vase by The Design Chaser x Città. Overhead are Eva lights by Lightplan, and on the wall is a Puzzle Round light by Lodes from ECC.

On a corner site in Herne Bay, excavations to the property had been made to provide privacy from the road. Inside, the owners sought the same and also a relaxed openness, expressed in a luxurious-meets-down-to-earth aesthetic with a wink of glam. Achieving this in a three-level home while ensuring it feels cohesive requires an expert understanding. The updated, four-bedroom interior needed to be visually connected and have a sense of flow within it and through to the walled courtyards outside, where espaliered planting forms vertical gardens and there’s a pool you can admire from the kitchen.

TOP “Even though I knew what it was meant to look like, I walked into the finished powder room and completely fell in love with it,” says Tomi. “One of the reasons I like it so much is the way the luxury of the Elba tiles from Artedomus is grounded by the black of the mirror, Dot 02 pendant by Lambert & Fils from Backhouse and Buddy tapware from Plumbline, and the concrete Aura basin by Concrete Nation from Plumbline — true to the overall idea of this house.” ABOVE This handsome Amalfi outdoor sofa is by Design Warehouse. The Roman pool towel is by Baina.

In responding to the brief, a starting point for was to devise a simple colour palette with green as the accent hue, then layer it with texture in the form of key elements such as the timber-panelled and plastered feature walls and multi-format tiles. It takes real skill to include special details in every room that make a statement without showing off, and this house is a lesson in how to do that well. Points of difference abound, yet “you walk in the door and any room you go into, you know it’s part of the same story,” says Tomi. “There are individual spaces that stand out, but it all works together.”

TOP Brushing the American oak floorboards, curtains made using Sojourn fabric from Icon Textiles form a soft backdrop in this zone that enhances the colours of the adjacent kitchen and gives protection from the sun that beams through the new sliding doors. Tomi and Alex sourced Arc chairs from Eco Outdoor to arrange around the homeowners’ existing dining table, on which sits a Nuage vase by Vitra from Città. ABOVE Aalto Chevron paint makes this second living room on the central floor a grown-ups’ escape and a far cry from its former life as a toy- strewn playroom. Décor accents in here include a Dot Atomium light by Lambert & Fils from Backhouse, an Ava sofa and Mean Slim swivel chairs by Forma, an Elle Block Oval coffee table from Soren Liv, a Geo sphere and Pod Bud vases from Città, and an artwork by The Poster Club from Slow.

Alex and Tomi designed highlights that create an exceptional overall ambience rather than demand individual attention. These details both distinguish and connect the spaces, like the fine line of black steel midway up the wall in the main living area that mirrors the negative detail of the timber panelling in the hall and the steel that appears throughout the house, and one of the more daring inclusions: the statement wallpaper in the rumpus room that reflects the greens used elsewhere and the planting outside.
“Initially, we only wanted to wallpaper one wall, but ended up loving it so much that we decided to do them all,” says Tomi. “It’s bold but quite simple in terms of colour, so it envelopes, defines and creates interest in the room without being too overpowering. It’s magical.”

TOP Reeded glass doors opening from the landing allow the couple’s bedroom to feel much more spacious. Also on this upper storey, a disused attic-like area has been transformed with a dressing table (pictured overleaf). Tomi says that when styling schemes like this “it’s about looking at a space and going, ‘Okay, what else is needed?’ It might be asking, ‘Is it too green? Do we now need to add in a bit more black and a bit of white to freshen it?’, or bringing in a different colour to work with an artwork a client wants to put in the room, and asking how we can do that with an accessory. ABOVE & MIDDLE A skylight and an Oasis bath from Plumbline help to define the ensuite, where the shower is tucked behind a wall wrapped in Finger White tiles from Artedomus that run down to Tundra floor tiles from Tile Space — open yet private, instead of boxed in like it was before. The Bethell towel and Beppu mat seen here are by Baina. As in the powder room and girls’ bathroom, the ensuite features Buddy tapware and hooks from Plumbline, and a mirrored cabinet crafted by Carlielle Kitchens. On the vanity, a Bendum tray by Ferm Living from Slow holds bar soap by Compagnie de Provence from Città.

The open stairwell bound by slatted steel also ensures visual continuity, while channelling natural light from the glazing between the upper floors into the windowless downstairs. On the central floor, a steel-framed pivot door forms a notable entry into the open-plan kitchen, dining and living spaces that allows them to be closed off from the hallway yet similarly maintains visibility and lets there be light.
To deliver its artificial counterpart, decorative black pendants have been installed throughout the house. Architectural yet simple, per the desired aesthetic, they’re variations on the same theme — a ploy that subtly builds interest. The shiny copper pendant in the stairwell is an exception — the glam to the grounded.

TOP The make-up table in the main suite is crafted from an exquisite slab of green marble from Artedomus, which teams beautifully with a lock vase by 101 Copenhagen from Frobisher, a Geo wedge from Città and a Masters chair by Kartell, draped with a Tibetan lambskin. ABOVE & MIDDLE Large-format Invisible Light floor tiles from Tile People reach up the wall to join Uptown Green tiles from Artisan in the kids’ bathroom downstairs. Good lighting is crucial in a room lacking natural light, and downlights combined with a Zeppo wall light by Astro Lighting from ECC set into the cabinetry provide that here. These durable Lux basins by Concrete Nation mirror those in the ensuite.

Previously configured as several smaller spaces (including all of the bedrooms) jammed in under raked ceilings, the home’s top storey is virtually unrecognisable from the original. Alex and Tomi’s spatial recommendations have turned it into one grand main suite in which the bed can at last be oriented to take in the sparkling view over Westhaven Marina and the harbour bridge. It’s accessed via a lobby and through steel-framed, reeded-glass doors, and complete with a walk-in wardrobe, dedicated make-up station and sanctuary-like ensuite.

ABOVE New paint (Dulux Mt Aspiring Half), curtains (made from Satori Stonewash fabric by Mokum from James Dunlop Textiles) and Oakford Square carpet by Artisan Collective (underfoot throughout the house) have zhuzhed up the girls’ bedrooms. Here, a Moon table lamp from Città is used to illuminate a Bluebird Garden artwork by Holly Roach.

This reinvention has been a game-changer for the homeowners, who say it’s the project’s most significant enhancement, giving them the option of seclusion while their darling daughters enjoy their own independence on the ground floor. When they’re older, the girls will be able to come and go through an entrance in the garage, making this a future-proofed solution for all the family.
Most of the cabinetry and furnishings at this address were custom-designed by, and many off-the-shelf items personalised with carefully selected fabrics and finishes, so everything melds perfectly and feels one of a kind. Abundant storage helps to avoid clutter — the enemy of beauty and calm. “It’s about trying to make the house as easy to live in as possible, with places to put everything so you don’t feel as if you’re constantly tidying up,” says Tomi.

TOP Renovating gave the children their own bedrooms and the use of the nook next to them — perfect for playdates. The slatted balustrade draws down light from the floor above onto the Mandora Emilie Emerald wallpaper from Designers Guild, a Quilty sofa from Forma and a selection of cushions from Castle & Things. ABOVE Custom timber lockers (with hooks by Ferm Living made from semi-precious stone moss agate) up the functionality of the laundry.

Tomi adds that if she could begin and end her days here, “I’d love going into the scullery and making myself a cup of coffee, then opening up the doors that lead onto the courtyard and pool. I’d probably drink my coffee on the window seat at the end of the living room looking out over the harbour, or go upstairs to the master bedroom and sit down on one of the chairs we’ve positioned at the end of the bed. The huge sofa we designed for the main living room is all about comfort and lying around, and that’s what I’d want to do at the end of the day — just get in there, put my feet up and watch TV.”

ABOVE “Alex and I feel that with dark spaces, you don’t necessarily need to make everything white because it can just highlight the fact,” says Tomi. “There aren’t any windows in [the laundry], but we opted to put in black cabinetry and marble-look tiles to make it feel luxurious, so you can enjoy them and forget the lack of natural light.” They’re complemented by Antilia Green tiles from Artedomus and coordinating handles powdercoated with Dulux Mist Green.
With this sweet fantasy, she’s hit the nail on the head: every inch laidback luxury, this house looks good enough to eat but is ultimately lifestyle-led. Separating the zones while keeping them connected has had a massive impact, meaning this family of four can embrace life together without being in each other’s pockets.

Words Philippa Prentice
Photography Michelle Weir

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