Changes are major, but subtle

Shipwreck timber used in home's construction

Last updated 08:58 08/02/2014

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Character and contemporary can co-exist in a home - if changes are carried out carefully.

That's evident during a visit to Trudy's 1923 bungalow at 10 Dorset Ave in New Plymouth. There's a freshness to life here that is a comfortable overlay to the rich warmth of timber features and character detail that Trudy has retained and enhanced during her seven years of ownership.

The three-bedroom-and-office home sits handily a few sections along from the green space of Sanders Park - and offers a deceptively compact-looking face to the street. It's not until you step inside this home that you find there's much more to life here than you expect.

Trudy recognised its potential when she bought the property in 2007. "I'd looked at quite a few houses, and came back to this one a few times."

A builder friend vetted the house for her and was impressed with its construction. "He told me 'The boys did a good job on this one ... it's a good sound house' and that was instrumental in my decision to buy it."

A tale of shipwreck and recovered timber didn't hurt, either. Trudy was told that timber from the cargo of the S.S. Gairloch, a coastal steamer that ran aground on Timaru Reef off Weld Rd in 1903 was said to have been used in the home's construction.

That's a little difficult to verify - and the 20-year gap between the stranding and the bungalow's building would seem to throw some doubt on the tale. Whatever the truth, the story adds a dash of romanticism to the home's history.

The property was not Trudy's first foray into home renovation. "This is my ninth home ... and the sixth one I've lived in," she admits. "I enjoy renovating."

Most of those earlier home projects were more cosmetic in nature. At 10 Dorset Ave, however, Trudy took a substantial but subtle approach to renovation. Almost all the internal walls were changed in one way or another, she explains, with linings removed and insulation put in place. "It's changed a lot inside ... taken apart and then put back together."

The wall between the front lounge and the hallway was removed by a previous owner and that's an obvious alteration. Trudy's work is no less dramatic, but has been done with a lot of sympathy for the original character of the home.

Take the doorway into the front bedroom, for example. Trudy took it as well - around the corner to avoid it opening into the lounge area. Then she removed the Oregon panelling from the corner of the lounge to fill in the hole that was left so that it would be an unobtrusive change.

In the kitchen-dining-living area, she had the original internal chimney removed to open up the previously separate spaces and repaired the ceiling with appropriate battening. And a new kitchen, finished with granite bench tops, butler's sink and panelled cabinetry, was designed as the era- friendly centrepiece of the room.

"This is such a good entertaining area," Trudy says. "It's big and wide and the bench works very well in the kitchen ... I can talk to anyone while I work in here."

There's a spacious office off the family area - a more than useful space remaining after the rest of the former bedroom was walled off to create an ensuite for the master bedroom behind it. "I decided I would rather have an ensuite and an office than a fourth bedroom."

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In the new ensuite - finished to complement the era of the house - leadlight windows were crafted to copy the design of original leadlights elsewhere in the house.

"The house still has the sense of its era," Trudy explains. "I tried really hard to keep that. And I matched the timber staining really carefully in the new areas to the original timber features. You've got to take care of these lovely old homes."

She has also renovated more modern homes, including an apartment. "Whatever you do, it's important to respect the house," Trudy emphasises.

The living areas open through French doors to the sunny north-facing rear of the house where there is a generous timber deck to relax on. The surroundings out here are a surprise for the first- time visitor - a wall of greenery wraps around the home giving it shelter and privacy as well as a natural outlook.

It rises out of the small valley behind the house, where the property actually drops away to the boundary below. A level lawn sits below the house edged in shrubs and plantings and the rest of the land on the slope is left as a bushy border to the property.

The trees and shrubs add their own atmosphere to living here, Trudy notes. "You hear the cicadas singing and watch tuis sitting in the pohutukawa."

Leaves drop in the middle of the year to let the winter sun through, but there's still the lush green touch of the avocado tree.

The deck is one of her favourite spots. "It's a lovely place to hang out and have a barbecue ... sit out here with a glass of wine."

That wine will be a pleasingly cool temperature after its time in the cellar-workshop space beneath the house. Trudy leads the way down the steps and along the crushed-shell path to the door that opens up the handy basement space. She opens an internal door to show the foundations of the house and suggests the potential to dig them out further if more workshop space was wanted.

Back upstairs, Trudy points out the air inlets recessed into the ceilings, explaining that an earlier in-ceiling heat transfer system was re-used as the ducting for a new heat-pump installation. That warms the home up nicely in winter, and can be reversed to cool the rooms in summer.

The tiled fireplace in the front lounge is pretty much decorative these days, although Trudy thinks it could still be restored for full use. She occasionally sets candles in it for a flickering ambience of an evening.

Most of her time is spent out in the main living areas and the flexibility of the layout is a bonus in the house. "This (lounge) room is really for movie watching - you can shut the door and have two different parties of friends in each area."

Refurbishing this home has been a labour of love, she says. "It's been my favourite home."

A return to Europe is the prompt for this home's sale - with a good dash of regret for Trudy. "I wish I could pick it up and take it with me," she says. "I'll miss the space and the warmth and the big feel of it."

Kris Rasmussen and Shannon Ryan are marketing the property for Trudy and expect plenty of interest in its package of original character and up-to-the-minute enhancements.

"It's a beautiful home, meticulously prepared, with amazing indoor-outdoor flow to a private bush setting," says Shannon. "We expect there are people waiting for something like this to come up for purchase."

This block of properties close to Westown shopping is a distinctly desirable location, he adds, with flat streets for easy walking and plenty of choice in the shops, from banking and pharmacy to cafe and takeaway eating. Sanders Park is almost next door and Yarrow Stadium is just a stroll away.


QUICK LOOK WHERE: 10 Dorset Ave, New Plymouth.

HOW BIG: 814sqm in land; 145sqm in home, plus single garage.

HOW MUCH: Price by negotiation. WHAT YOU GET: Beautifully renovated 1920s Californian bungalow in a desirable Westown location, close to Sanders Park. Private bush backdrop that can be appreciated on the sunny north- facing rear deck.

MARKETED BY: Shannon Ryan and Kris Rasmussen- 06 758 5632 or 0800 457 477.

ON THE WEB: - ref 308857.

SEE IT: Open home, Sunday, February 9, 12 noon till 12.30pm.

- Taranaki Daily News

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