House of the week: Tiny Auckland home where the grandchildren can play
When five-year-old Tadhg and his three-year-old brother Macdara arrive at their grandparents' home for a weekend sleepover, they head straight for their bedroom. "It's just 'hello' and whomph," says Lorraine Hammond. "They rush straight into their room."
And no wonder: the boys' room was designed for them by their aunt, interior designer Amie Hammond of Billie Kinsey Interior Design (one of Lorraine and husband Roger's two daughters).
It features bespoke bunk beds, each with their own set of shelves, and a multitude of cupboards just the right size for hiding in. "How to lose a child," says Lorraine wryly.
The wallpaper inside each bunk features black and white portraits of smartly dressed animals. "We wanted it to be appealing to them, but there was a lot of debate about that wallpaper," says Lorraine.
"One person said, 'You're going to give those boys nightmares.' So we started introducing the wallpaper to the boys before it even got on the wall – giving all the animals names – in the hope that they wouldn't freak out."
It worked. "They love it," says Lorraine. "They haven't slept up the top yet because they're too little, but they like to sit up there with their books and things."
The bedroom wasn't the only space custom-designed for the boys. Landscape designer Renée Davies came up with the idea of concealing a sandpit beneath a deck, which can be opened up when the boys are staying. "And it keeps the cats out," says Roger.
But even the parts of the newly renovated home not designed for the grandchildren are distinctly playful: the Cadbury purple cupboard doors that conceal an office for Roger (he's retired and is a keen photographer), a hot pink stool in the living area that resembles a doughnut and an enormous floral rug.
The boys love to crawl across the rug, searching for bees and ants among the petals. Unfortunately, it's also risky for unsuspecting adult feet when the boys have got their blocks out. "It becomes lethal, because you can't see them," says Lorraine.
Roger and Lorraine's home began its life as a tiny, two-room workingman's cottage.
The exact age of the home is uncertain – Roger has managed to trace records back to the early 1900s, but during the renovation they uncovered a piece of the Auckland Star from 1884, which had been used as wallpaper in the original house.
At some point a further two rooms were added, followed by a couple of lean-tos, which were still there when Roger and Lorraine moved in five years ago.
They had always planned to renovate, but didn't realise how extensive those renovations would turn out to be when they began working with Richard Furze of Furze Architecture and Design. They wanted to add an extra bedroom and bathroom to the small space, and there was a limit to how much the couple wanted to extend.
But Richard's concept for a new living room, deck and master bedroom under an asymmetrical, cathedral-like ceiling has proven to be Roger and Lorraine's favourite feature. "It was all his design," says Roger. "It's made a huge difference."
When they first started the renovation, they'd hoped to repile the cottage's original wooden floors, but that proved impossible. "The builders crawled underneath, then came out and said, 'We're not going to do that: you haven't got an existing floor,'" says Roger.
The house was propped up while new foundations and floors were built – and then some walls were rebuilt as they didn't have adequate framing in them. "So basically, it's transformed," says Lorraine. "The front's the same, but that's about it."
They worked with daughter Amie on the simple, fresh interiors. Lorraine is a primary school teacher, and spends her days surrounded by five-year-olds. "When I come home I just don't want mess and clutter and noise. I think that's why I've been drawn to this anti-clutter look. I think I prefer a calm home."
Except when the couple's grandsons are over. "Then it's crazy – clutter everywhere," says Lorraine. "Everywhere."
My decorating style: I usually just have something I really love and then work with that, like the carpet in the living room. We found it fairly late in the day, but it's really brought our house to a different level. (Lorraine)
A tip for other renovators: I feel quite strongly that if you work with experts you get a better outcome. You pay for them, but often they'll save you money because they save you from making mistakes. (Lorraine) I think they know what goes with what, so they can knock away some of your silly ideas. (Roger)
One thing we would have done differently: Keep within the budget. (Lorraine) Have a bigger budget! (Roger)
Our morning routine: At 7am we're at the local cafe, Dizengoff, for coffee, then Lorraine goes to work and I walk along K Road and Ponsonby Road – I really enjoy it. (Roger)
Why we renovated with grandkids in mind: They come to visit a lot so we really wanted them to enjoy being here – although our daughter doesn't enjoy all the white walls, because she's scared they're going to mess them up! The house would've been quite different without them; it's good because we've got a room for the kids, a room for the parents and a room for us.
The bunks are great because: Amie, our daughter, designed them and she wanted to achieve the feeling that they're a little bit enclosed, so it's exciting to be in there.
The boys helped make garden art: Renée Davies, our landscape designer, put clay in the bottom of ice cream containers and they pushed their Lego and dinosaurs and Roger's old metal toys into it. Then she poured cement into the containers. They're mounted on an old weatherboard and hang on the shed.
When the boys are here they like to: Count the cranes and watch Bunnings being built down the road.
Lorraine and Roger Hammond
- NZ House & Garden