Refurbishment of Georgian-style residence accentuates its original splendour

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Refinished, repainted and with existing architectural detailing expanded upon, this renovation celebrates the past while accommodating a modern lifestyle

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Not all home renovations require major structural changes. For some houses, a keen eye and a lighter design touch can be just as impactful. Such was the case with the sensitive rejuvenation of this single-level Georgian-inspired house undertaken by designer James Doole of Chelsea Group.

"This 1880s-built residence was rather tired and dark when we discovered it, but the bones of the home – the elegant room layouts, high ceilings, and refined architectural detailing were all perfect," says Doole. "Even a refit of the informal living spaces by the previous owner had been in keeping with the home's interior.

"However, we really wanted this refit to celebrate and accentuate the character of the home and this is evident right from your arrival. Taking inspiration from the ornate driveway approaches I saw on similar-style homes in Beverly Hills recently, we expanded an existing trellis to be a more over-arching arrival feature."

You arrive at the house near the terrace and pool area and then drive on around to the large porte cochere on the other side. The front of the home – with the pool – had a wealth of architectural detailing while the less viewed side was under-detailed.

"However, we remedied this by faithfully replicating the existing cornices and dentil mouldings and repeating them on the less endowed side of the home."


And to an extent this same approach is repeated on the home's interior.

"While we didn't rearrange things structurally we did strip most walls back and reline them to achieve flawlessly smooth surfaces. In the large entry hall we reproduced panelling seen in other rooms."

One major transformation is seen right from the entrance. Doole took up carpets that had run throughout the home and then fully restored the solid oak floors revealed underneath.

"In the informal living, dining and kitchen space we introduced a larger island and a calacatta paonazzo marble benchtop and splashback – further adding to the quiet grandeur of these rooms," he says. "And the change to classic Shaker panels for the kitchen cabinetry is more in step with the home's ornate wall panelling."

However, in the formal dining area, Doole had to make a decision regarding the wealth of existing dark oak panelling.

"The woodworking was beautiful, but entire walls in a dark wood created a somewhat gloomy atmosphere," he says. "By keeping the wall panels and painting everything white we were able to lighten this key space without losing its magnificent historic presence."

Naturally with a house nearly 140 years old, the bathrooms received a major makeover. In the main family bathroom, marble-look, low-upkeep tile finishes and a classic freestanding tub were chosen to be in keeping with the rest of the home.

Colour and lighting were a big part of the refit, too – especially given the scale of the five-bedroom, four-bathroom home.

"We painted the home's exterior and interior in quiet tones to bring a modern, light-filled touch without compromising the great detailing," says Doole. "Custom lights and chandeliers at strategic points help build on the sense of a rich history."

First published date: 20 July 2017

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Credit List

Designer James Doole, Chelsea Group
Builder Chris Emmitt Builders
Tiling Marble Lab from SCE Stone
Paint Aalto and Resene
Blinds Santa Fe Shutters
Kitchen cabinets Resene Black White satin finish
Splashback and countertop Marble from SCE Stone
Taps Buddy Brass range from Plumbline
Oven, hob, ventilation, dishwasher Miele
Bathroom vanity Golden Kitchens
Vanity sink Apaiser stone basins in Emerald
Vanity countertop Calacatta from SCE Stone
Shower fittings Buddy Brass range from Plumbline
Bath Freestanding
Toilet Plumbline
Outdoor furniture Sofas by Terry Curtis from Home Industry