House of the week: Melrose

Last updated 10:05 19/02/2014

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Tui frolicking in the garden provided the main inspiration for this Wellington home.

Its roof forms a curving wing shape, while the ceiling panels are hand-stained in rich green, blue and brown tones - an idea that came to architect John Mills as he watched the birds playing in the trees outside the house.

"They've got those wonderful, iridescent feathers, so he's taken the notion of those colours and intensified [them] and made a stylised acknowledgement of the tui," owner Stella Ramage says.

"That feeling works beautifully to hold the place together... it's always really nice to come into." 

A union of the natural and modern worlds was the brief for the three-bedroom home in Melrose Heights, built on the site of an existing state house.

"My husband and I had quite different notions about what we wanted ... I wanted something very modernist, very light, but my husband really likes a more cottage-y, wood-type feel," Stella explains.

"John Mills did a terrific job of putting those different desires together into something that is very modernist, open-plan, light and airy - but it's also got lots of wood, and a kind of natural, organic feel to it."

That feeling translates to the views, too - the home overlooks the zoo and the green belt, as well as the towers of the city - "which looks fabulous at nighttime," Stella says.Bo

Big sliding doors open up to those views, and provide the option of separation for the open-plan home.

"You can open it up Japanese-style or close it to separate rooms so that gives it a lot of flexibility," Stella says.

"It had the right feel all along, even when we used to go in while it was being built, that sense of openness works really well."

Building director Rowan Hannah of Plan It Constructions said the house's centre piece - the ceiling -  was the most challenging part of the build.

"Everything had to be hand-trimmed and aligned to make it all work perfectly."

The home won a Gold Award in the Carters New Homes $1 million to $2 million category at the Registered Master Builders 2013 House of the Year.


Build Cost: Over $1 million

House Size: 244sqm

Architect: John Mills, of John Mills Architects

Builder: Plan It Construction

Materials: Timber-framed with concrete retaining, cedar cladding, aluminium joinery. Ceiling made from A-grade plywood.

Energy Efficiency: The house was made as eco-friendly as possible with solar heating, low E double glazing, and over-specified insulation. 

Done Right: "The builders were just terrific. We felt as if we were in really good hands with the site officer, who was just wonderful," Stella says. 

Done Wrong: "We had to put in some sunblock blinds on the western side - it actually gets too sunny. We probably should have thought about how we're going to do that a bit earlier, because they've been added slightly piecemeal afterwards. It looks fine, though."

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Unexpected: "Just how energising the ceiling is, there's all the rich colour against the much more muted, natural creams and blacks at the lower levels."

Recommend: "I really think if you can afford it, get someone else to do project management. I think it's totally worth it because it just made it such a stress-free process."

- Stuff


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