Te Atatū Residence by Material Creative

Once upon a time, this abode played a role in the television series Outrageous Fortune. The rabbit warren of ’70s rooms may have looked the part then, but when new owners Emma and Dane Winter made the home their own, they decided to rewrite the script to suit modern, multi-generational living.
“Dane found the house, and when he brought me over, my initial reaction was, ‘No way, this is intense!’” says Emma. Nevertheless, as they proceeded further into the two-storey dwelling, she was able to appreciate its bones, and by the time they got to the pool out the back, it was ticking enough boxes to pique her interest. “We’d just found out we were pregnant with our third child and were on our way to outgrowing our other house — plus my mum lives with  us, so the scope to upsize in the suburb where we’d already established routines as a family and were close to work made a lot of sense.”

TOP Perhaps typical of a footwear designer, Emma says her favorite part of the house is the shoe cupboard in the entry hall, crafted by the project’s cabinetry specialists Manolas Bros. “It’s a full-height cupboard, but you open it up and it only has shoe shelves, which is perfect for when everyone’s at the door and they all kick them off.” The Corner Bobbin stool beside it is from Vitrine. ABOVE In keeping with a Japanese approach that sees the removal of distracting elements, less is more in the dining space, the fixtures being a Hotaru Double Bubble pendant light by Barber Osgerby from Simon James, and the solid forms of a bespoke table by Manolas Bros and Pier chairs by Resident from Simon James.

Come auction day, Emma says they were up against a property developer who wanted to put 10 apartments on the Te Atatū, West Auckland site, so “when we won the auction, the owners ran downstairs and gave us a big hug. The whole neighbourhood was stoked. Everyone knows each other — it’s a real community vibe.”

TOP In the living room, an Outline sofa from Simon James (with a cushion from Weave and a Tehaukaikōura blanket from Noa Blanket Co) sits atop an Unplugged Checkers rug by Nodi. Also arranged here are a Single Bobbin stool from Vitrine with ceramics Toni handcrafted herself. MIDDLE These vintage urns are from Vitrine. ABOVE An ergonomic Ekstrem chair by Varier from David Shaw makes a statement that’s also surprisingly practical. Curtains sewn up by Russells Curtains & Blinds using Kyoto fabric from James Dunlop Textiles filter the light for a dreamy ambience.

The couple’s confidence to create something of substance was spurred on by their existing working relationship with interior design studio Material Creative. Emma and Dane had collaborated with its co-founders and creative directors Toni Brandso (who took the helm on this project) and Liv Patience on a previous renovation and the fit-out of a store for Havaianas, the jandals brand they distribute under the umbrella of their importer/distributor/sales agency Summer Supply, alongside their own footwear brand La Tribe.
“I love working with Toni because she helps me articulate my thoughts and ideas,” says Emma. “She just looks at a room and can visualise, ‘If we do this and this and this, it’ll work well’. She’s quite decisive, and sometimes I’m not.”

ABOVE The thick Sasaab stone from Granite Workshop and walnut cabinetry do the talking in the kitchen for an overall effect that’s minimal yet interesting. The appliances are by Fisher & Paykel, the Buddy tapware is from Plumbline and the Osso bar stools are by Mattiazzi from Simon James.

From the first site visit, it became apparent the original intention of an update of the kitchen and bathrooms would be just the start of the alterations needed to bring the interior into line with how the family wanted the house to flow.
“We seek to create spaces shaped by the spirit of those who’ll spend their time in them,” says Toni. “Spatial organisation comes first, and that clarity around the plan guides how we’ll layer in materials and add a sprinkle of the unexpected to define the interior as something new.”

ABOVE As it almost always is, budget was a consideration on this project, and Emma explains the tack they took. “We tried to concentrate on the kitchen, bathrooms and flooring, because I feel like that’s what adds the most value to a home.” She read lots of books to gain inspiration and guide her vision, including those referencing Belgian designer Axel Vervoordt. “I love his ethos — it’s simple but has lots of layers,” she says. On the Maison Rustique Oak planks by Signature Floors is a Seagrass mat from The Wholesale Matting Co.

“‘Outrageous’ was an understatement when it came to the condition of the house,” says Material Creative interior designer Olivia McNeil, who worked alongside Toni. “Groovy black and gold wallpaper, salmon-pink walls, caramel-brown mosaic tiles, amber stained-glass windows, shaggy carpet… It was a real look reminiscent of that era.”

TOP It was a natural progression for Material Creative to bring the steel, stone and timber from the kitchen into the bathrooms, then specify the surrounding materials to suit, including these textured Gesso Taupe Linen wall tiles from European Ceramics in the ensuite. ABOVE This vignette in the main bedroom features an Ursula vase by Margi Nuttall from Simon James and a Parallel chair by Simon James.

In some instances, this sort of statement décor could be worth salvaging, but here it was the antithesis of Emma’s taste, which, like the shoes she designs for La Tribe, favours understated elegance and everyday ease. “Because our work life is quite hectic, we want our home to bring a feeling of balance to our lives,” she says. “I like picking apart ideas and putting them back together, and talking them through to try to envisage how a design will feel. Some interiors look beautiful, but what about with three kids [Nala (6), Kalani (3) and Kye (2)] — how are they going to function?”

TOP The walk-in wardrobe with its own sea view. ABOVE The stone seen in the kitchen appears in the powder room in a basin designed by Material Creative.

Weaving together Emma’s aesthetic preferences with their design knowledge and enlisting builders Origin Build, Material Creative opened up the four-bedroom home for greater connection. On arrival, you’re welcomed into an entrance hall, where a gentle curve coated in soft-toned, polished plaster ushers you into the living spaces. Tactility is a common thread in the material palette, while pieces grounded in practicality come together to create a sense of calm.

The solidity of the stone kitchen island centres life in this family hub. Pulling references from mid-century architecture and Japanese design, Material Creative explored subtle shifts in the detailing — such as offsetting the island with an asymmetrical nib panel — to bring structure to simple forms. Wrapping the kitchen at this end, walnut timber cabinetry hiding a pantry, appliances and access to the scullery and laundry is key to Emma and Dane’s desire to reduce visual noise and clutter wherever possible.

At the opposite end of the kitchen, the dining area is a favourite spot for the grown-ups to park up in when family and friends stop by, where they can still keep an eye on the kids as they dash between the house, deck and garden.
In a similar vein, the nearby space that was previously a bedroom has been turned into a media room, an important move that met Emma and Dane’s need to be able to watch the children play while they’re in the kitchen. This cosy  zone provides plenty of storage for the kids’ toys, links to the living room and opens up onto the main patio.
On the upper level, the main bedroom’s ensuite was moved to a new position to make way for a beautiful walk-in wardrobe with full-height walnut timber cabinetry and a tall window that overlooks the ocean.

TOP & ABOVE The existing cedar cladding and new cedar slats on the exterior of the home have been stained a darker shade to blend better with the new black joinery. In terms of the planting, landscape designers SGLA were engaged to create a scheme that Emma can oversee the evolution of. “My nana was such a gardener and my mum’s a gardener, so it’s in my blood. It’s so interesting researching native plants to get the right pairings and textures and learn what will grow in clay. Dane calls it The Hunger Games because I’m always ripping things out and moving them around!”

The exterior of the home remains true to the original architecture, but the joinery has been updated for thermal efficiency and access granted to a new-and-improved pool area. Emma loves to potter about in her plot, and encourages the kids to harvest veges from the garden and limes from the tree.
Self-confessed homebodies, the Winters can be found chilling out here all year round, and when the mood strikes, they wander down to the local boat club for hot chips and a catch-up with the neighbours. “We’re really content here,” says Emma. “We feel so fortunate to have this place designed for our family.”  

Words Alice Lines
Photography Sam Hartnett

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