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New bathroom spaces also respect traditional villa character of the home

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This renovation creates a master ensuite, main bathroom and other rooms in a sympathetic aesthetic and all within a modest footprint

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No architect-client relationship is more demanding than when the two are one and the same person. No surprises then that this master suite renovation – part of a wider rethink of architect Glen Cornwell's own 1920s villa – had to achieve so much.

"Our brief called for a master ensuite, a main bathroom for the children, and a separate guest toilet," says Cornwell. "A laundry with storage, and a walk-in wardrobe for the master bedroom were also required."

And these rooms had to fit snugly into a space previously taken by one bedroom.

To achieve all of this there were some challenges, including taking out fireplaces in back-to-back bedrooms to create space for the master ensuite.

Building code regulations also influenced the design. With the external wall of the new ensuite and the main bathroom less than a metre from the boundary, the cost of adding the required fire-rated windows was beyond the budget.


"But because we were converting an existing bedroom into the main bedroom, we could keep the original window and just frost it – so no fire rating was required," says Cornwell.

Fitting so much into the limited space available required clever spatial solutions.

"To save space, we designed a galley walk-through laundry leading to the main bathroom. This had to be kept as compact as possible to leave enough room for the adjacent walk-in wardrobe and toilet."

To achieve this, the dryer is wall-mounted above the washing machine, leaving space for a pull-out laundry drawer and cupboard under the large sink set into a Prime Stone benchtop. The wall opposite has additional storage cupboards.

"A standard-height hinged door would have made the laundry feel small, limited usable space and restricted natural light coming through into the hallway. Our solution was to install an over-height cavity slider with square-stopped reveals between the main bathroom and laundry."

In the main bathroom, a spacious vanity with a hand basin for each child was a priority. To this end, the design includes a wall-to-wall vanity with twin semi-recessed hand basins. Plus, each teenager has their own mirror-fronted storage cupboard with further storage in wide drawers beneath the vanity top.

The master ensuite has the same wall-hung cabinets and wide vanity but with just one hand basin to create additional bench space.

"Again in pursuit of space or the illusion of space, we introduced large-format horizontal Italian porcelain tiles to both bathrooms," says the architect. "The tiles have a velvet finish and a pattern with a look of fossil stone."

In aesthetic terms, tying the new rooms back to the rest of the interior was naturally also a key aspect of the project.

"While the spaces had to be modern and functional, we also wanted to respect and maintain the traditional character of the villa," says Cornwell. "This included retaining the cornices and skirting boards, and classic-style door hardware."

A picture rail 2.7m from the floor adds another traditional villa element. The tiles run up to the rail, visually reducing the scale of the 3.4m-high walls. Above the picture rail, the wall is painted Resene Half Tea, matching the rest of the interior. French oak timber flooring also runs through from the hall and main living spaces into the guest toilet and laundry, while both bathrooms have tiled floors.

Side lighting – in the form of vertical strip lights – was chosen for the bathrooms as it casts fewer shadows and offers better light. Motion-activated lights under the vanities provide a soft illumination.

First published date: 22 August 2017

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Credit List

Architect Glen Cornwell ANZIA, Avery Team Architects
Ensuite vanity Ravani, wall-hung, from Newtech
Ensuite benchtop Washed oak ply from Newtech
Basin Gala from Newtech
Taps Hansgrohe from Flow Imports
Shower stall Warmup complete shower solution
Toilet Duravit ME by Starck from Metrix
Flooring Manor Atelier engineered floorboards in French Oak; Beren tiles from Tile Space
Walls Beren tiles from Tile Space
Lighting Multi-task Slim from Targetti
Awards Trends International Design Awards (TIDA) Bathrooms – Highly Commended