House of the week: Martinborough

Last updated 05:00 01/05/2013

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Their dream was to transform a dated 'log cabin-like' house on an olive grove in Martinborough into a contemporary home, and owners John and Helen Meehan commissioned Wellington architect Max Herriot to do so.

Their brief was to modernise and create a master bedroom with en suite, and they hoped to do it all within the same footprint.

The result was a virtual rebuild, which was necessary in order to strengthen the base of the house so that it could support an upper level.

"I am very pleased, delighted," says Helen, who spent 15 months living on site in a back bedroom while the new build progressed. "It's an easy house, it flows well, we can have 50 people for drinks and just open it up, it's so easy, they can go from the dining room to the living area, the verandas and lawn."

The window joinery was replaced with floor-to-ceiling glazing, as well as sliders that open the living and dining spaces out to newly decked and paved areas. The guest bedrooms have been re-glazed with sliders of significant size to provide a light and spacious feel.

And the much yearned-for upper level master bedroom with en suite has delivered a very private area overlooking the Meehan's Olivo olive grove, the Tararua mountains and the setting sun.

"The original house was a Z-shape, so we tried to resolve the form by leaving the gables down the side but adding a contemporary flat roof two levels in between," explains Helen. "This is a crisp form, differentiated from the gabled original. We extended one gable to add a bedroom, the gables book-ended the central two storeys.

"It's not overly fancy, we decided not to extend the roof as overhangs, so we softened the ends with pergolas and a form of sunshade. We did look at raising the ceiling in the living, but we had to be cost conscious, so instead we punched more windows into the area so the focus was on the views and the eye was drawn outside, not to the height of the ceiling."

Those huge and captivating views over the garden and olive grove can even be enjoyed while luxuriating in the bath.

And at ground level the kitchen was opened with foldback over-bench windows which connect to the outer, perfect on hot summer days.

Niven Greenaway designed the kitchen, Helen says by the very nature of their work architects don't get much time in the kitchen and she feels they aren't as familiar with the design of them as a kitchen specialist.

The renovation has transformed a tired and dated house into a contemporary structure that sits comfortably in the olive grove surrounds.



Build Cost: Under $1 million

Architect: Max Herriot, Herriot+Melhuish: Architecture

Builder: Mark Gellatly, Jaz Construction, Carterton

Size: 375 sq.m.

Materials: Painted cedar weatherboards, corrugated iron roof, aluminium windows

Energy Efficiency: Double-glazed windows, solid-fuel fire

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Done Right: The whole house works, lots of spaces for the family to do their own thing. The living room is very much the centre of the house. We have converted the garage into a boys' room - snooker with table football, opening out onto the garden again.

Done Wrong: The lighting in the upstairs bathroom – I need more light for make-up!

Unexpected: The time it took to achieve

Recommend: The architect for his clever use of space - doing a renovation is trickier than a new build I suspect. And our kitchen designer, Niven, because it is a very workable space which integrates well into the living room. Our builder, Mark, did a top quality job and we used him subsequently for the conversion of the garage into the snooker room.

Next Time: There won’t be a next time – we're very happy with this home. 


- (Live Matches)


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