A dated 1990s townhouse in St. Heliers has been transformed through thoughtful renovation that have brought the home into the 21st century.
WORDS Joanna Mathers PHOTOGRAPHY Scott Espie
The mid-90s townhouse was a symphony in peach. The interior walls were resplendent in pastel, the only deviation from the Beverly Hills 90210 colour scheme was an incandescent yellow wall located in one of the downstairs bedrooms.
“We did paint the walls white before the renovation,” laughs owner Amanda. “We couldn’t have lived very long with these colours.”
Amanda and her husband moved into the townhouse around 10 years ago. A year after they moved in they welcomed their first daughter Gabriella into the world, who was joined a few years later by Samantha.
While the home was great for a growing family, time, tastes and requirements change. And by 2015 the house was looking tired and crying out for modernisation.
They all showed such amazing attention to detail, were incredibly reliable, and great with the kids and the pets
Enter Refresh Renovations. Refresh consultant was contacted to oversee a plan that would transport the home from 90s cheese to 2015 chic.
“Refresh had the concept and final consent drawings arranged for the family,” she explains. “The primary objective was to modernise the home, as it was dated and tired and not meeting client needs.”
The three-level townhouse had some quirky features that offered the designers some good options when it came to the creation of extra space.
One of the more unusual features was a linen cupboard on the lower level that took up an unnecessary amount of room.
“This was accessed by a small door, and ran the whole length of the hall,” says Amanda. “You could see the retaining wall inside it; basically it was just a whole lot of wasted space.”
The plans drawn up transformed the unused cavity into extra space for the downstairs bathroom and allowed for the creation of a new laundry. Additional space was facilitated by excavations behind a block retaining wall.
“The lower excavation required lots of manual digging,” explains Refresh Renovations Consultant. “Earth had to be cut out and removed. Approximately 6m³ was hand dug out to meet the necessary depth require for the new concrete floor, and a new block wall was then built and tied into the existing structure.”
The space incorporates three bedrooms plus a rumpus room, which was given a new lease on life with overlay flooring. The upgraded bathroom has a double vanity unit, which the girls love, plus a bigger shower and a bath. The tapware and bath are from Robertson Bathware, and new floor-to-ceiling grey tiling is from Tile Space. Amanda is particularly happy with her new laundry.
“It is a very long, functional space,” she says. “We use to do the laundry in the garage, now we take the clothes directly outside to the line or hide them away by shutting the door.”
The middle level of the home is where most of the action takes place. The street entry is located here, as well as the kitchen, dining area, lounge and an extra bathroom.
According to Amanda the original dining room used to be “hokey”, the existing bathroom was unnecessarily large, and the kitchen an awkward ‘u’ shape.
The new plans required the removal of a load bearing wall, which was replaced with a steel portal frame to open up the space between the kitchen and dining room. A row of pre-existing bay windows now provides the backdrop for the main benchtop, a centre island has been introduced, as well as a floor-to-ceiling pantry.
The opened up entertainment space now flows effortlessly from kitchen to dining room (the kitchen used to be closed off from guests and was rather antisocial). A Samsung fridge and Smeg induction oven and stove top have been installed in the new kitchen and the space is now modern and sophisticated.
Quick-step laminate flooring from Floorscape was installed in the kitchen, dining space, entrance and bathroom; this is also used in the downstairs rumpus room and hallway. “It’s a really great product. Incredibly tough and dog proof,” says Amanda.
The upper level of the home is the parent's haven. This space used to feature just a bedroom and ensuite, but the renovation has introduced a new office that is being well utilised by the couple.
“It’s a really great addition,” says Amanda. “I can read while he is working nearby in the evenings. It’s a really nice adult suite area.”
As you ascend the staircase, a half wall to the left reveals the new office, which is accessed via a few descending steps. The master bedroom is to the right of the main stairwell and connects to the upgraded ensuite.
This bathroom has been extended by utilising existing loft and ceiling space. The shower now bigger, there is an elegant, free-standing “Ava” bath, a double vanity and the same floor-to-ceiling grey tiles that appear in the children’s bathroom.
The renovations started in March 2015 and were completed in July. During this time the family lived a somewhat nomadic life (albeit within their own four walls) moving from floor to floor as the work took place around them.
“The girls had to sleep in the lounge for a month, which they actually loved,” says Amanda.
The project manager Ben King and the builders were all extremely accommodating and made the process as painless as possible.
“They all showed such amazing attention to detail, were incredibly reliable, and great with the kids and the pets,” says Amanda.
The builders often had an audience in the form of the two cats Mocha and Bella, and the addition of a new dog (a Labrador called Jet) added more fun to the family’s action-packed year.
Refresh renovations Consultant says that the project, while complex structurally, was ultimately very successful.
“We set out to take a somewhat tired home and make the important areas stylish and functional, while making the most of unused space and creative onsite structural solutions,” she says.
“It was a fun project to work on and the end result was incredibly satisfying for us and the family.”
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Have a look at another Refresh case study in Auckland: Inside a 1920s home renovation with Refresh.
This cast study by Joanna Mathers featured in Issue 018 of 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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