Art Deco homes are full of character, but it took a modernisation of this Hillsborough home to realise its full potential.
WORDS Joanna Mathers
Art Deco homes are prized for their idiosyncratic character. And while the Hillsborough home of Hockly family had this in spades, it took an interior makeover to fully realise its potential as a contemporary dwelling. Meg and Jared Hockly knew that the home’s interiors weren’t to their taste when the purchased the property. But they did the best they could, painting and changing the flooring in many of the spaces to align it more fully with their own aesthetic.
This served their purposes for a while, but as their family grew (with the addition of Mila (now 5) and Nico (2)), they soon realised that it would take more than a lick of paint to meet their changing needs. “When it came to the kitchen and bathrooms in particular we knew it would be best to get expert help,” says Meg. She explains that both of the bathrooms were renovated in the 1980s – a decade that’s not celebrated for its good taste – so needed updating. “We also thought it would be a great time to make the downstairs bathroom (where the kids rooms are) the family bathroom with a bath. This meant the upstairs is more of a parents’ retreat bathroom.”
They also wanted to open up the kitchen and dining and improve the connection to the main living space and change a window into a bi-fold door to create better flow from inside-out.
Enter Saleem Bhikoo and his team. The Refresh Renovations franchisee heads Transform Projects Limited from Westmere in Auckland. His team worked on a design that took into account all the changes Meg and Jared needed, while maintaining the integrity of the home’s Art Deco heritage. “The home also had a great outlook over bushland, which wasn’t being utilised in its current form,” he said. “Opening up this view and making the most of the outdoors area was any key consideration.”
The house renovation plan
The plan developed by the Refresh Renovations designer necessitated a full renovation of the kitchen and dining area, the creation of a more functional outdoor area, plus the complete makeover of three bathrooms. The upstairs master bathroom was brought up to date with a walk-in shower, floating double vanity with wooden cupboards and black tapware. This look was repeated downstairs in the main bathroom; Meg explains that getting the right look was essential.
“While we modernised the home we were aware of the Art Deco style of the house. We chose black tapware and bathroom vanities specifically to match with the old led light window in the upstairs bathroom.” The kitchen “faced the wrong way” says Saleem. It didn’t flow well into the dining space and meant whoever was cooking was facing away from the diners. The new plan opened up the entire kitchen/dining space – an island bench with seating on one side turned the kitchen into a social hub and allowed for free flow into the other entertainment spaces.
Carrying out the house renovation
Every renovation has its trials and this one was no exception. When opening up one of the walls in the dining space, the builders discovered rot. The Hockly’s had been aware of this (there was obvious damp in one corner) but the full extent of the damage wasn’t revealed until the renovations were in full swing. “There was really an unforeseen level of damage in the dining area,” says Saleem. The builders took a picture of the damage and showed it to the Hocklys (who had moved out for the renovation) and explained that they could either do a quick fix, or go over and above building code standards and completely rebuild the area. The Hockly’s opted for the latter option, which added three extra weeks to the building process. Fortunately, they had factored in extra as contingency: “We didn’t have to sacrifice too much because of these hidden costs,” says Meg.
The kitchen is so much more usable
The rebuild necessitated removing the exterior cladding and replacing it, putting in a new structural column, insulating the space and making the area watertight. The home is located on a section with bush views, but the orientation of the original home meant you had to go into the garden to see the views. Two decks were developed to allow the views to be seen from the house – one of these flows out from the kitchen/dining space and is access via a bi-fold door. This new living space is a key feature of the home’s success – the kitchen is practical and airy; the dining room flows naturally to the deck space outside.
The new home design
These changes, coupled with the new bathrooms, provide the entire family with a much higher standard of living. “I had thought a lot about the look of the house and the cosmetic upgrades, but it really is the practical changes that have changed how the house works,” says Meg. “The kitchen is so much more usable. I can now cook in the kitchen and watch the kids in the lounge or running past me to run into the back yard. Our guests always end up sitting at the Island when they visit so it acts as a bar and a place for me to potter around cooking while we chat.” She says that children are equally enamoured of the changes. “The small deck that meets up with the new bi-fold doors has become an awesome place for the kids to play and eat outdoors. The kids love their new bathroom, and we're not surrounded by bath toys in our part of the house.”
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