WORDS Erin Reilly
Young families need room to grow. But when they live in enclosed spaces without real boundaries between living spaces, it’s easy to feel cramped – even claustrophobic.
That was the situation Cat and Hamish faced in their Sandringham home in Auckland. Their ex-state 1950s bungalow was small and disjointed, which impacted how the young family used each space.
“The hot water cupboard was in the middle of the kitchen, and you had to go around the kitchen and out into the hall to get to the bathroom,” says Cat. “There was also an old fireplace that ate up into the floor space and made simple things like having a TV impossible. We wanted to maximise what space we had so our brief revolved around using ‘dead’ space in an old laundry and hallway creating a practical, functioning family home, with a high-quality kitchen that would last us for years.”
The home’s original floor plan was disconnected and lacked distinction between each space. The family wanted to better-utilise the space taken up by the laundry and back door alcove to create a stylish, functional kitchen and dining area. While they figured out where to relocate the laundry, they decided to reorient the hall access to the bathroom and third bedroom to improve privacy from the living areas.
“When we started there were old mismatched tiles on the floor, the beautiful rimu floors were covered and worn, and there was a lot of unusable space,” says Cat. “In a small house like ours, every metre matters! Now the space is well-utilised and flows between living areas. The laundry and storage are generous but compact, and the old charm of the floors and high ceilings of our ‘50s ex-state house simply shine.”
The new kitchen sits pride of place and features Thermoform cabinets by Dezignatek and a Primestone engineered stone top. The back door was replaced by a window over the new sink and a small window that would have been behind the new pantry was removed. Demolition rimu timber was used to fill in the gaps in the old laundry floor, and new lighting, paint and polished floors throughout the open-plan living, dining and kitchen area completed the transformation.
Aesthetics were important, but it was more about the bigger picture.
“Now we have room for a dining table where we spend time with our three-year-old daughter and eat meals as a family,” Cat says. “Our kitchen is light, airy and functional, and we actually want to cook in it – we don’t avoid it like we did before. We also have discrete living areas; we can close off the bathroom, laundry and children’s room and have people over to entertain.”
Cat admits that a project this complex would have been impossible to manage herself.
“We knew we needed the expertise of builders, plumbers, plasterers, painters, brick-layers, floor sanders and more,” she says. “The idea of coordinating that myself while working full time and with a young family was too much – and to get it done in a reasonable timeframe seemed almost impossible.
“We wanted the hassle taken out of it. Dave Georgetti from Refresh Renovations knew the right people for the right job and each tradesperson did a quality job and had worked with each other before, which meant they could sort things out between themselves too.
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