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Renovated master suite with exposed brick fireplace, contemporary cabinets

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Traditional villa master suite renovation with new wall of cabinets, brick fireplace, light shaft in master bathroom, wall-hung vanity

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Traditional villa-style homes in older areas where there is a conservation overlay can make renovations challenging.

But heritage requirements can also turn potential negatives into positives as this project demonstrates.

Architect Chris Holmes of CAAHT Studio Architects says the master suite was probably a bedroom or living area in the original house – it has a double-sided fireplace on an internal wall.

"At some stage in the 1980s the fireplace was exposed and painted white. Because the local heritage requirements demand that the top of the chimney remains unaltered on the outside of the house, it was easier to keep the fireplace, than rebuild a new structure within the roof to support the bit on top."

Holmes says the space was gutted and the white paint soda-blasted off the bricks.


"The bricks have a visual warmth and a rough texture that introduce a rustic feel. This contrasts the sleek, contemporary look of the bank of cabinets that line one entire wall of the bedroom. The owners, who worked closely with our team on the design, enjoy the juxtaposition and the sense of history provided by the fireplace."

To retain the proportions of the room visually, the cabinets stop short of the ceiling and there is LED uplighting above.

"The eye reads the room as being the size of the original space," says Holmes. "This means the symmetry is maintained in respect of the centred positions of both the fireplace and the bay window."

In the ensuite bathroom, the other side of the fireplace incorporates glass shelving, which offers another juxtaposition of light versus heavy and modern versus traditional."

Here both light and space have been maximised. A low ceiling compresses the entry, containing the area around the vanity. But a new shaft that extends up to a skylight on the gabled roof explodes the rest of the space visually, creating a light-filled void above the shower.

"The skylight relieves an otherwise very tight space," Holmes says. "This end of the room is bathed in natural light by day, and by night you can see the stars. It is further defined by a change in the wall tiles. Subway tiles signal the shower as a wet room and reinforce the verticality."

First published date: 30 June 2015

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Credit List

Architect Chris Holmes, CAAHT Studio Architects (Auckland)
Builder Watt Building
Cabinetmaker Haute Design
Vanity top Plytech Futura HPL Plywood
Basin Victoria + Albert Napoli vessel basin from Robertson
Taps Hansa Hansastela
Shower stall Haynes Glass
Shower fittings Grohe
Toilet Parisi Envy from Robertsons
Heated towel rail Vega
Mirror Haynes Glass
Towel hooks and toilet roll holder Emco Loft
Tiles Heritage Tiles
Lighting LightPlan
Bathroom ventilation Rinnai I-Heat and Simx Extracts
Hot water system Rinnai
Blinds Kresta Blinds
Drapes Linen by seamstress Mei Huang
Bedroom fan Big Ass Fans