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Thinking outside the square is essential when you're renovating, no matter whether it's a house from the '30s, '60s or more recent times


Even in the space of a decade a house can become dated. It's not so much about the architecture as it is about the interior spaces, colour palette, building products, technology and landscaping.

All these things came into play for this renovation project. The new owners of the house commissioned the original architecture firm, Hulena Architects, to design a full makeover before they moved in.

Architect Jeff Gray says it helped that the company had designed the house in 2003 and could see room for improvement.

"Not all our ideas had been carried through in the original building," he says. "The balustrading, for example, looked very clunky and did not do the house any favours. There was little acoustic treatment, and the upper levels were subjected to intense solar gain in summer."

To transform the exterior, Hulena Architects specified glass balustrading, which also greatly improved the spectacular views from inside the house. The firm also custom designed a textural cladding to give the house a sense of depth.


"We specified weatherboards with a routed pattern of horizontal lines, and installed these with vertical battens – from a distance the cladding looks like sliding shutters. The boards cast shadows that create visual relief and depth."

The new white palette also helps to freshen the exterior – the colour and the new cladding give it a Caribbean look.

To provide a sense of arrival, a new landscaped entry courtyard with a water feature was created. A colonnaded white wall with high cutouts partially hides the view from guests arriving at the front door.

"There are glimpses of the view as you come up to the door, but the full expanse only opens up once you are inside the house," says Gray. "This side of the house has also been improved by a redesigned Juliet balcony."

Interior changes include improved acoustic insulation, with new glazing provided on the side of the house facing the main road. The design team also improved the thermal performance by introducing aluminium louvres above two skylights.

"The louvres are angled to deflect the direct sun, but they still let in plenty of light," says Gray. "We also added louvres to the high window above the front door."

The travertine flooring throughout the house was repolished, and several changes introduced to the living areas.

Built-in shelving was added to both sides of the fireplace in the living room, to provide visual interest. And the original grey kitchen in the family living area was replaced with dramatic black cabinets that have a reflective, mirror-lacquer finish. These contrast a decorative gold-painted glass splashback and a textural gold panel on the front of the island.

"We also completely transformed the master suite," says Gray. "Several walls in the ensuite were removed to completely open up the space, so it now seems much larger and brighter. And we raised the tile level on the balcony to provide a seamless flow between inside and out."

First published date: 26 November 2013

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Credit List

Architect and interior designer Jeff Gray and Brent Hulena, Hulena Architects (Auckland)
Landscape design Trudy Crerar
Renovation builder Modus Construction
Kitchen manufacturer Häcker Kitchens
Cladding Specialized EZpanel from Plaster Innovations
Louvres Louvretec
Skylights Able Aluminium
Blinds Times Curtains
Terrace tiles and exterior wall tiles Cendre Flamme from SpazioCasa
Wallcoverings Paints and Vision wallpaper by Resene
Lighting Lumen Design
Heating Auckland Heat Pumps
Furniture Studio Italia; Natuzzi
Kitchen cabinets High-gloss lacquer in Black Magnolia
Benchtops Quantum Quartz Pearly Shores
Splashback Artscape
Ovens and cooktop Gaggenau
Refrigeration Liebherr
Bathroom vanity Johannes Erren Cabinetmakers,
Vanity top Statuario marble from Granite Pacifica
Basins Vero from Metrix
Taps Cox from Metrix
Bathroom tiles Gioia Venatino from European Ceramics