House of the week: Michael Boulgaris' Remuera home video

A gardener keeps the grounds ship-shape and replants the flower beds every season.
JANE USSHER

A gardener keeps the grounds ship-shape and replants the flower beds every season.

It's the hollywood style of Spanish Mission homes that appeals to Auckland real estate agent Michael Boulgaris. "They're very LA, very reminiscent of 1920s Hollywood and quite different for traditional suburban Auckland," he says. They're also very rare, and Michael's quest to find one for himself took years.

There are only three significant Spanish Mission homes in Remuera, he says.

One of them used to belong to former Auckland mayor John Banks and another sold in February for $8 million. After waiting patiently for years, in 2014 Michael found himself bidding furiously against five other contenders. "The experience scared the living daylights out of me."

As soon as the home was his, he embarked on a top-to-toe, 18-month renovation.  

READ MORE:
House of the week: Converted Wellington cinema
House of the week: Cosy Arrowtown cottage
House of the week: Mid-century Christchurch home 

 
The 19th century French mahogany dining set and chiffonier in real estate agent Michael Boulgaris' Remuera home are by ...
JANE USSHER

The 19th century French mahogany dining set and chiffonier in real estate agent Michael Boulgaris' Remuera home are by celebrated furniture-maker Paul Sormani.

His Remuera home is just right for the antiques he's spent a lifetime collecting, scouring Sotheby's and Christie's catalogues for gems from London, Paris and New York. 

The Boulgaris home features in the NZ House & Garden tour early next month. 

Boulgaris says he was introduced to antiques by property investor Olly Newland, when Michael, aged only 23, sold a house for him. 

Michael with his basset hound/border collies, Forrest Gump, left, and Jacqui.
JANE USSHER

Michael with his basset hound/border collies, Forrest Gump, left, and Jacqui.

"It's unfortunately a very expensive and a very time-consuming hobby," he says. 

Ad Feedback

"Every couple of months I might have a glass of wine and polish the furniture, buff it up and feel good about it, as someone would polish their car – that's where I get my satisfaction." 

His home is a sanctuary, a place to unwind after long hours in the office and weekends spent at open homes for his high-end clients. "When I close those gates at night, I'm totally secure from the world, it's quiet and private and I like the space." 

The 19th century French clock in the living room is identical to one held in the Wallace Collection in London; it sits ...
JANE USSHER

The 19th century French clock in the living room is identical to one held in the Wallace Collection in London; it sits on a 19th century French black lacquered desk.

"Friends say to me, 'It's too big for you,' but it's perfect," says Michael of the 500sqm four-bedroom house he shares with a flatmate and dogs, Jacqui and Forrest Gump. "There are often house guests too so just as well there's plenty of room," he says.  >

Michael sold his modern art collection to finance the renovation – restoring all the walls, ceilings, fireplaces, replacing every fitting, remodelling three bathrooms and two kitchens (one upstairs and one down) and refurbishing the pool. 

Things didn't always go smoothly – plumbing work led to a huge flood in the kitchen that damaged the floors, walls, plastering and ceiling below. The kitchen had to be ripped out three times until the measurements were perfect. "The only saving grace was 

The two French 19th century chairs in the living room are part of a set placed throughout the house; the sofa at left ...
JANE USSHER

The two French 19th century chairs in the living room are part of a set placed throughout the house; the sofa at left and armchairs in the background are Ralph Lauren.

I couldn't cook, so I lost a lot of weight by just snacking each night," Michael says. 

Working in the luxury real estate market, Michael says he's accustomed to dealing with perfectionist, type-A personalities and that's how he operates himself.

"I'd walk into a room and say, 'That light switch is 3mm out.' The electrician would joke, 'What do you mean? Did you use a spirit level?' I'd pick up the spirit level and it would be 3mm out." 

HOUSE AND GARDEN

The Boulgaris home features in NZ House & Garden Auckland house tour on April 7. Editor Sally Duggan talks about the tours, which support the NZ Breast Cancer Foundation.

Now that the memories of renovation dramas are fading, Michael can enjoy the home he's created. An accident saw him confined to a wheelchair for a few months last year – he tore the quadriceps muscles on both legs after slipping while carrying a box down the stairs.

Swimming in his pool, which he heats to 38°C, has been great therapy. "My friends think it's a joke but they love it, particularly a midnight swim with a beverage."

Opening out to the pool is a ballroom where Michael recently hosted 90 people for a Hope Foundation fundraiser. "The ballroom swallowed up the people and there could easily have been 150 guests. This was a good trial run for when I host a Great Gatsby party for my clients."

Decorative porcelain and marble 19th century vases sit on the mantelpiece.
JANE USSHER

Decorative porcelain and marble 19th century vases sit on the mantelpiece.

All levels of the home look out to the pool and to Rangitoto. "The elevation over the rooftops reminds me of the Hollywood Hills," he says. The view is best from the top level at sunrise, he says. "The sun comes up in a big orange ball and illuminates the valley. This is when one can really be at peace."  

The commode was from Barry Thomas Antiques, which is no longer in operation, and the gold leaf and wood mirror is from ...
JANE USSHER

The commode was from Barry Thomas Antiques, which is no longer in operation, and the gold leaf and wood mirror is from Baran de Bordeaux.

The second of the pair of French marble fireplaces was installed in the ballroom, flush to the floor.
JANE USSHER

The second of the pair of French marble fireplaces was installed in the ballroom, flush to the floor.

A hand-painted and gilded 19th century Pleyel piano sits in the ballroom.
JANE USSHER

A hand-painted and gilded 19th century Pleyel piano sits in the ballroom.

A 19th century wood and gold leaf mirror hangs in Michael's dressing room.
JANE USSHER

A 19th century wood and gold leaf mirror hangs in Michael's dressing room.

The bed in the master suite was made by Paul Sormani; the bedlinen and curtains are by Ralph Lauren; ceiling cornices ...
JANE USSHER

The bed in the master suite was made by Paul Sormani; the bedlinen and curtains are by Ralph Lauren; ceiling cornices and roses were remade by Plastercraft.

The round antique fruit wood table holds photographs of Michael's dogs and his hunting and showjumping days.
JANE USSHER

The round antique fruit wood table holds photographs of Michael's dogs and his hunting and showjumping days.

Michael had his wardrobe imported from Italy: "I find New Zealand wardrobes too chunky,"he says; a picture of his first ...
JANE USSHER

Michael had his wardrobe imported from Italy: "I find New Zealand wardrobes too chunky,"he says; a picture of his first successful showjumping horse, Stroller, sits in the centre.

Original oak panelling was restored in the entranceway; archways are a signature feature of Spanish Mission homes.
JANE USSHER

Original oak panelling was restored in the entranceway; archways are a signature feature of Spanish Mission homes.

Six men were needed to carry the kitchen's Carrara marble benchtop: "I wanted it in one piece as I didn't want a join," ...
JANE USSHER

Six men were needed to carry the kitchen's Carrara marble benchtop: "I wanted it in one piece as I didn't want a join," Michael says.

The master bathroom has floor to ceiling Carrara marble.
JANE USSHER

The master bathroom has floor to ceiling Carrara marble.

Michael added the wrought-iron detailing seen on the entrance to the house: “It dresses the house and is seen a lot in ...
JANE USSHER

Michael added the wrought-iron detailing seen on the entrance to the house: “It dresses the house and is seen a lot in Europe,” he says.

The sphinx was bought some time ago at an interior design store in Auckland.
JANE USSHER

The sphinx was bought some time ago at an interior design store in Auckland.

Michael kept the original shape of the pool, but had it completely rebuilt.
JANE USSHER

Michael kept the original shape of the pool, but had it completely rebuilt.

 - NZ House & Garden

Comments

Ad Feedback
special offers
Ad Feedback