Location
Client
Craig Jackson and Melanie Bridge
Time
Jun 2013
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A top to toe paint job breathes new life into a magnificent Paremoremo country ranch, constructed from kauri in the 1970s.

WORDS Jason Burgess PHOTOGRAPHY Jason Burgess

A top to toe paint job breathes new life into a magnificent Paremoremo country ranch, constructed from kauri in the 1970s.

The old saying, good things come to those that wait springs to mind when talking to Melanie Bridge and her partner, Craig (Jacks) Jackson about the recent purchase of their Paremoremo lifestyle property. From their first open home inspection they knew this was the house for them. Three years later, it was within their reach and they made a successful bid for it.

Set on three hectares of rolling paddocks with views in every direction including a stretch of the upper Waitemata Harbour, the sprawling board and batten gable roof home resembles an American style ranch house. Inside the exposed beams, split level kauri floors and tall wooden ceilings conjure visions of both historic Northland churches and 1970s pole houses.

Melanie believes one of the reasons the property remained on the market so long was because there are only certain people who appreciate the quirks and the character of a 70s home.  “The workmanship,”  she says, “is just fantastic.”

Before taking title of the property the couple contracted Refresh and had drawn up plans for a garage-to-stables conversion, a new equestrian arena and paddock fencing. Forget demolished walls, new kitchens or fancy bathrooms, within a mere week of moving in, work began on the most dramatic modification of all, rejuvenating the interior with fresh paint to transform the previous dense wood finish into a spacious, light filled home.

“A lot of people might think it a crime to paint over all the wood but I’m not keen on kauri ‘orange’ as it closes everything in. We both knew it was going to look absolutely amazing,” says Melanie.

a living room with outdoor flow and dining table

it feels like us, it’s our taste, and it now feels like home

For the walls they chose, Mel says, a French grey than green. Her original inspiration for that particular shade came from a bid to replicate the feel of Gib board in its raw state. “I really like the way Gib looks against white window frames,” she says. ‘Powdered Wig’ also from Resene was chosen for the ceilings and floors.  “It’s the perfect white, I’ve used it in all our homes,” she says.  “The colours come together as a restful combination.”

Painters handled the labour intensive duties of refurbishing from varnish to paint. Working from the top down, the high pitched ceilings were accessed from rolling scaffolding and the wood was sanded back to the bare boards, then sanded again between each coat of a five-coat system. A smooth surface sealer and a water based primer provided initial cover and grip. Then two top coats were sprayed on followed by a final brushed on coat of paint.

The floors followed a similar system of preparation before being rolled with two coats of enamel paint to achieve a slightly worn look. They were then left to cure for a couple of weeks before furniture was moved in.

An enormous amount of effort went into the job.  “The NZ Iraqi boys were amazing to deal with. Real characters, proud of their work and really respectful of our family,”  says Jacks.

“They were fussier than I would have been,”  admits Melanie, who against all advice made the unusual call to paint the wood sections of the ceilings in semi-gloss (a gloss always shows up imperfections). However, Melanie wanted to bring out the various textures of the home by selectively using low sheens and glosses to highlight different areas. It works, as the angular ceiling planes bounce light into the spaces below. Meanwhile all the Gibbed ceiling areas were coated with a low sheen water based paint.

the overview of the stairs and living room

Other subtle tricks of light and shade were employed on the walls, with half toned paint applied to the darker areas of the house and full strength paint applied in the lighter zones.

All cupboard doors were refaced to resemble old stable doors and then sprayed with a semi-gloss. Meanwhile, Melanie sourced vintage filing cabinet handles on E-Bay to match the style of the existing brass kitchen handles. The rough natural edge of the kauri breakfast bar top was planed back and then sprayed black to match the granite counter tops.

When the painters finished, the couple decided to re-sand and whitewash the exposed beams in the open plan kitchen and family room themselves. “Half way through the painting process we noticed that the beams had a lovely industrial look. This is our artistic interpretation. We couldn’t expect the painters to do it because it took a lot of experimentation with sandpaper and paint strengths.”

A bookshelf and living room

A key feature of the house, are the large wooden framed windows and doors on brass runners, that effectively morph into moving walls opening to every aspect of sun and vista available. A decision was made to keep the timber tones on the external framing because as Jacks says, “it connects us to the outside.”

Originally Melanie and Jacks envisaged installing skylights and whitewashing the fireplaces but the finished paint job has made such a profound difference to light airiness of the house, they’ve shelved those plans.

“You can get hung up on changing everything in a new home to match your taste but it doesn’t necessarily make you happier,” concedes Melanie.  “Things here kept looking better at every step of the painting process. The finished job makes all our stuff look really good, it feels like us, it’s our taste, and it now feels like home.”

 

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This case study by Jason Burgess featured in the Autumn 2012 issue of New Zealand  Renovate Magazine. Renovate Magazine is an easy to use resource providing fresh inspiration and motivation at every turn of the page. 

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