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Renovation of mountain holiday home refreshes exterior look and expands living space

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A change of colour, expanded living spaces and a pool and pool house set up this mountain holiday house for 21st century living

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In the past, holiday homes were usually more about getting closer to the New Zealand landscape than about creature comforts. Today, however, the standard of many retreats rivals or exceeds those left behind in the city.

Twenty years ago Michael Wyatt Architects created this wood-and-steel mountain eyrie. While the strong, simple architecture has stood the test of time, the current owners wanted a more contemporary exterior, together with improved functionality. They asked the original architectural firm to undertake the renovation.

Transforming the overall aesthetic was fairly easy, says project architect Michael Wyatt.

"We stained the weathered timber cladding black and painted the roof the same colour. These straightforward design moves created the edgy, modern aesthetic required."

Steel-framed pergolas with batten roofs replace older versions on the main building, and provide shade – the spacing of the battens echoes the vertical seam cladding. A new solid front door was also added to create a more prominent entry, and the original lean-to was reinvented to accommodate a new kitchen. Sliding doors improve the indoor-outdoor flow.


Wyatt also added a lap pool, and upgraded the decking that wraps around the exposed side of the house, optimising the sweeping outlook to The Remarkables and Coronet Peak.

On the interior, the changes are substantial, improving overall functionality and adding another bedroom and more living space.

In the main structure, the dining area was moved to the kitchen's original position near the centre of the building. An internal dividing wall was removed, and a doorway opened out, extending the length of the double-height living volume.

For structural reasons, a steel support portal now spans the middle of the room. This is painted black to tie in with the exterior metalwork. This beam contrasts the original pine ceiling, which is painted white to enhance the sense of spaciousness and light. New timber floors were laid throughout.

The new kitchen features a substantial island in precast concrete, stainless steel perimeter benchtops, and a black backpainted glass splashback. These elements, and the three semi-industrial light pendants, give the kitchen a no-nonsense feel. This was a specific request from one of the owners, a professional chef.

The master suite, on the ground floor, has also been transformed, with new floor-to-ceiling windows taking in the mountain views from the bathroom. A new central dividing wall in the bedroom separates the bed from a desk and seating area. The wall also provides privacy from the pool area and repurposed garage.

Leading to two upstairs guest bedrooms at the rear, a new minimalist stair and stairwell window further open up views to the Remarkables. The guest rooms have been freshened up, and a new bathroom added.

"Perhaps the most dramatic transformation of all was to the old garage," says Wyatt. "This now provides a pool house and media room on the lower level, with a children's retreat on a new mezzanine floor, which maximises the space beneath the gabled roof. To maintain a connection between upstairs and downstairs, we created gaps on both sides of the mezzanine – these also allow a natural light flow, and give the floor an attractive, airy, floating look."

The holiday retreat has undergone other changes, too. Both the house and the pool are heated with energy from a new diesel generator. Electricity is used for underfloor heating in the bathrooms.

"While the two principal structures retain their original lines, the function and capacity of the home has been transformed," says Wyatt. "The cheaper fuel source means the new pool is heated year round – something of a luxury in an alpine climate.

"On the other side of the house, the expanded deck, complete with soaking tub and glass balustrades, greatly improves indoor-outdoor connections to the most breathtaking of mountain outlooks."

First published date: 24 November 2014

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Credit List

Architect Michael Wyatt NZIA, Michael Wyatt Architect (Queenstown)
Kitchen designer Michael Wyatt
Builder Amalgamated Builders Ltd (ABL), Queenstown
Structural engineer Lewis Bradford Consulting Engineers
Cladding Existing
Roofing Existing
Skylights Velux
Flooring Europlank timber engineered floor
Wallcoverings Resene
Kitchen manufacturer Firman Joinery
Kitchen sink Cornerstone
Faucets Progetto Portofino mixer in chrome from Plumbline
Oven, ventilation, dishwasher Smeg
Cooktop Linux
Vanity Custom, by Michael Wyatt
Basins Ponsi Cangas Slim from Plumbline
Splashback Low-iron glass in black
Bathroom floor Terranova Cemento Grigio tiles with matt finish
Taps Ponsi Rod basin mixer from Plumbline