Within these walls

Set in a palm-stud­ded gar­den, this Auck­land abode is sanc­tu­ary and so­cial hotspot in one.

Homestyle New Zealand - - CONTENTS - WO RDS Alice Lines PH OTO G R A PH Y David Straight

De­sign­ing their own home had long been on Re­nee and Barry Wool­cott’s bucket list, so when they pur­chased a sec­tion in Auck­land’s east­ern sub­urbs in 2008, grand plans be­gan to take shape. Af­ter un­der­tak­ing some mi­nor ren­o­va­tions to make the prop­erty’s ex­ist­ing home live­able, the cou­ple took their time weigh­ing up the pos­si­bil­i­ties of fur­ther al­ter­ations ver­sus de­mo­li­tion and start­ing from scratch. The lat­ter won out.

Some of their first thoughts around de­vel­op­ing the site in­cluded over­haul­ing the gar­dens. “We weren’t even us­ing the land,” says Barry. “There was a lit­tle goat track to get to the back gar­den, and 70% of the yard was ba­si­cally just a run for our dogs.” Max­imis­ing the views across the har­bour to Ran­gi­toto was an­other pri­or­ity for the pair, which made build­ing up­wards es­sen­tial, and as keen en­ter­tain­ers, cre­at­ing ded­i­cated spa­ces in which to in­dulge their love of host­ing was also top of mind. Four years and two kids later, their wish list had grown even longer to ac­com­mo­date the needs of a young fam­ily.

Wedge-shaped and on a hill, the sec­tion was not with­out its chal­lenges, so the Wool­cotts en­gaged ar­chi­tects Young & Richards to help de­vise a plan that would en­sure they ticked ev­ery­thing off. The so­lu­tion was to carve into the steep slope, work­ing with the land­scape rather than against it to cre­ate an oa­sis cen­tered around a gen­er­ous court­yard and pool area. •

The home is de­signed as three pavil­ions, with a guest suite, laun­dry and garage on the ground level, liv­ing ar­eas in the cen­tre and sleep spa­ces on top. Stacked on an­gles, the dis­tinct struc­tures each con­tain a se­ries of intimate spa­ces that pro­vide the fam­ily with pur­pose-de­signed zones in which to en­joy life’s var­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties.

Thanks to her stud­ies in in­te­rior de­sign and in­volve­ment in the fam­ily busi­ness, floor­ing com­pany Ja­cob­sen, Re­nee has a keen eye for ma­te­ri­als and sur­faces. Ex­cited by the chance to get in­volved with the cre­ative as­pects of the in­te­rior, she be­came the build’s pro­ject man­ager. With two preschool­ers and a baby on the way, the tim­ing could have been bet­ter.

“But life throws these things at you!” she laughs. “At nine months preg­nant, I was tot­ter­ing down wooden boards to check on our half-built home, and two weeks later I was back with our new baby in a front pack to dis­cuss light­ing plans and tiling with the builders. It was an in­tense few months for us, but a to­tal priv­i­lege.”

At the cen­tre of the fin­ished home, clean lines de­fine the kitchen and din­ing area. Barry is Cana­dian, and the cou­ple’s time spent liv­ing in Toronto and work­ing and hol­i­day­ing in the US has given them a love of North Amer­i­can style. In the din­ing room is a nod to this aes­thetic in the form of a cus­tom-made •

booth, jewel-toned cush­ions and a chan­de­lier over­head el­e­vat­ing the look from road­side diner to mod­ern and so­phis­ti­cated. In the kitchen, a mar­ble is­land, LED light­ing and a walk-in butler’s pantry con­tinue the luxe yet fam­ily-friendly vibe.

“Be­cause of my back­ground in buy­ing tiles, the se­lec­tion of floor­ing prod­ucts and tiling were of par­tic­u­lar im­por­tance to me,” says Re­nee. “I’m so pleased with the outcome, es­pe­cially the lit­tle de­tails that in a strange way you hope no one no­tices.”

The home’s ex­tended roofline and deep sof­fits make light work of the ul­tra-sunny as­pect. “I love the feel­ing of sun stream­ing in, so ini­tially we wor­ried that the shaded out­door area would make the in­te­rior of the house too dark,” says Re­nee. “But it would have been a night­mare with­out it, be­cause it’s just so hot here. You can’t sit in the sun for more than 15 min­utes, so we’re re­ally glad we have this so we can en­joy out­door liv­ing.”

De­spite its lo­ca­tion on a busy sub­ur­ban cor­ner, the walled gar­den gives the prop­erty a sense of tran­quil­ity and pro­vides the ul­ti­mate play­ground for the chil­dren, plus pri­vacy from the road. “We couldn’t be hap­pier with the end re­sult,” says Re­nee. “We like to host our fam­ily and friends for vis­its, bar­be­cues and par­ties, and it’s then that we ap­pre­ci­ate the space and flow of our home the most.”

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