House of the week: Lowry Bay

Last updated 05:00 18/09/2013

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This 1960s modernist-style Lower Hutt home has been renovated by its new owners to suit modern family living, but with the original architecture very much in mind.

Architect John Mills was commissioned for the alterations and says the home is a delightful example of modernist architecture.

He says the the project offered a rare chance to modernise a home that was still in its absolutely original form.

The brief was to create family living, an open space where the family could gather and share time and a place where they weren't cut off from one another, where the family could follow individual pursuits within a shared space while meals were cooking.

"We chose John Mills because he lived locally and we knew he'd be familiar with local conditions," says Debbie Summers of Lowry Bay. 

"We were asked to bring this elegant property into the new millennium, revitalised and fresh for a family of four. The quality of the construction materials was excellent, making the redesign of the house a real joy."

First up a clay bank at the lower garage level was excavated, and a bedroom-cum-kids playroom, bathroom and office were built with stairs creating internal access from the garage.

"The house was a series of small rooms, a room for the toilet, a room for the hand basin, a room for the shower, a room for the bath, a dining room, a lounge, the kitchen and four bedrooms - all individual rooms, says Debbie. "But despite the interior, it faced north west, taking full advantage of the sun."

The answer? "We opened up the kitchen and living/dining areas and removed the separate entry and dark hallway. A bank of skylights was built around the newly-exposed skillion ceiling directly over the new open-plan kitchen," says John Mills.

The step-down lounge with picture frame windows was retained in its original form, but the not-very-useful open fire was replaced with a gas flame fire and at the back, concertina doors were created to open onto expansive decking and an area of privacy bathed in the setting summer sun.

"In the summer we lie on bean bags on the deck while the sun goes down and enjoy the outdoors," says Debbie.

The house, originally four bedrooms, is now four bedrooms with two bathrooms, ensuite and walk-in wardrobe off the master bedroom and angular connecting stairwell. This reflects the modernist architecture of the era and open plan areas accentuate the original exposed beams.

The renovation won the Resene Exterior Colour Residential Award with its use of Resene's Black White, Bullseye, Calypso, DNA and Stonewall.

The interior was a collaborative effort: Mills and Mark Marinovich from John Mills Architecture working with the Summers family to mix contemporary and retro, making what felt like brave decisions at times, but their choices have proved excellent.


Renovation Cost: Under $500,000

Size: 310 sq.m total

Architect: Alterations John Mills, John Mills Architecture; original (1961) Girdslestone & Mitchell

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Builder: Jack Barber, Jack Construction

Materials: Wooden cladding, aluminium joinery, long run roof (original), guttering original, balustrading original on the exterior and replicated inside.

Energy efficiency: Double glazing, ceiling and wall insulation, underfloor heating downstairs, radiators in every room upstairs and gas flame fire. All heating controlled via thermostat and time clocks.

Done Right: How easy it is to live in, particularly the open living area and outdoor space on the decking and the sky lights. The placement of the kitchen - right in the middle with great views. Being in the middle means you are always a part of everything which is great when entertaining.

Done Wrong: We don't feel we did anything wrong, working with John the plans were perfect. We knew what we wanted and worked closely with the team to get what we planned.

Unexpected: The whole deck area: it wasn't originally planned, and the decision to add it was made late. I just didn't appreciate the living area it would create, with the concertina doors pushed back in the summer - we're out there all the time.

Next Time: This is a great family home that works brilliantly for a busy young family. Next time we might consider going up to build ourselves a retreat from what will be our 'teenagers' in a few years.

Recommend: Making sure you've got a good builder and project manager to ensure it's all fitting together. We were both working so it was critical to have a good builder. I also think it's important to be clear on what you want before you start, then things will go more easily.

- © Fairfax NZ News


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