House Of The Week
The Fullerton-Smith family homestead near Marton was built in 1938 by a home-maker and a builder, without architectural input.
Christine Fullerton-Smith mother, wife and home-maker was keen to recreate her home in the late thirties after an electrical fault reduced her first house to ashes. And, due to urgency (her family needed somewhere to stay) she took up a pencil and paper and designed the house herself. That's what you could do in 1938, build in response to necessity, undeterred by council criterion.
As current occupant Sue Fullerton-Smith says, the home was built from native timber (possibly milled off the farm) with longevity in mind by a Mr Jensen, at that time recognised as Marton's top builder. It is of solid construction and has a reasonable interior flow, as do so many houses of its time.
The hall alone measures 13 metres long, and at its widest three metres, perfect for a game of cricket as Sue's husband Dick Fullerton-Smith fondly points out.
Under Sue's stewardship there have been changes, the end of the hall has been opened out to the veranda with large piano-hinged native timber doors, creating a living space. Also, the remainder of the hall has become a dining area with a country dining table where 10 can - and do - sit down to dinner.
But the house is on the same footprint as the original; the exterior cladding stucco is the same, legend has it the buzzing little town of Marton had some of the best plasterers in the country in the 1930s.
Needless to say, three quarters of a century ago there were no thoughts for double glazing or insulation, but when insulation did become the thing to do, it was applied. Sue says the current insulation is now like wet weetbix and so is about to be removed and replaced with modern materials.
The kitchen has recently been redone, and is now a large farmhouse kitchen featuring native timber joinery, a roof window to maximise the sun and doors opening to the more intimate second living area den with its open fire.
The matai flooring is polished, the central hall and dining room carpeted for warmth. Guests arrive to a delightful front porch, sufficient to take tea, discuss farm matters, as quite probably was done when most of the family worked the farm in years past.
The house, Holtby, named after the village the family originated from in York, is in its third generation of Fullerton-Smith ownership, and is sure to stay within the family in the future. The fact that the homestead is the design of Christine, who had precisely no architectural knowledge, adds to the history that makes this build a very personal home, a part of one family's heritage.
NEED TO KNOW
Build Cost: Unknown, records lost.
Architect: Christine Fullerton-Smith and Mr Jensen.
Builder: Mr Jensen
Size: 280 square metres.
Materials: Native timber framing and joinery, a stucco plastered exterior, an iron roof, gib interior walls.
Energy Efficiency: Two solid-fuel fires.
Done Right: The builder was extremely experienced, the lovely-sized windows, Christine Fullerton-Smith was artistic and had an eye for proportion. The spaces to the north and west are lovely living spaces, in those days they often forgot about the west. This homestead is charming and practical and sits nicely on the site.
Done Wrong: Only three years after Holtby was built, another house was built with a kitchen in the second house in the north-east corner and living in north. And it proves that one thing done badly in this house is that the kitchen was in the southern side of house, mind you the only refrigeration was a safe.
Unexpected: That it works so well, despite the kitchen being in the south. It proved easy to put double doors in and transform the front of the house.
Recommend: Don't be afraid to look at removing walls to maximise living spaces. We also recommend a covered mudroom type area, where workers can arrive and take off wet and muddy gear for a working farm, in fact any arrival point needs to be covered.
Next Time: We'd put the living area and kitchen in the north end of the house.
- © Fairfax NZ News