A century-old villa blessed with the re­lax­ing vibe of a hol­i­day re­sort


Ly­ing on her float­ing bean­bag in the pool, gaz­ing up at the stars with a glass of wine in her hand – this is Lau­rinda Sut­cliffe’s favourite chill-out rit­ual. “I’ve ac­tu­ally fallen asleep on it be­fore,” she says. The pool is the stand­out feature of her Auckland home – it runs through the cen­tre of the new ex­ten­sion on the back of the century-old villa. But in fact ev­ery­thing about Lau­rinda and hus­band Brent’s Herne Bay home ex­udes an ex­otic flavour with a lux­u­ri­ous, tran­quil vibe: its clean lines, open spa­ces filled with nat­u­ral light and fur­nish­ings with East Asian in­flu­ences.

“I walk in the door at the end of a busy day and I’m in another world. It doesn’t mat­ter how bad a day it was, I get such a sense of peace,” says Lau­rinda. >

“When we first bought the house, I saw a stun­ning prop­erty that was ar­chi­tec­turally ex­cit­ing, with the old and the new jux­ta­posed beau­ti­fully to­gether, but didn’t see it would be such a re­treat.”

The seren­ity they’ve cre­ated in the four-bed­room, three­bath­room prop­erty is a far cry from the chaos over­shad­ow­ing the cou­ple seven years ago. Both had been in the fash­ion industry for decades – Lau­rinda as the cre­ative director of a cloth­ing com­pany and Brent as the owner of a menswear busi­ness. He was looking for a change and, as Lau­rinda had been in her job for al­most 20 years, they felt safe enough to go for it.

“We sold Brent’s busi­ness a week be­fore I was made re­dun­dant. We found our­selves hav­ing had the full-on busi­ness and full-on ca­reer and it all went within a week. This was right in the mid­dle of the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis.”

As often hap­pens, there was a sil­ver lin­ing. For this cou­ple, it was launch­ing their own cloth­ing la­bel, Loo­bie’s Story. From the sale of Brent’s busi­ness, they had enough money to live on for a year – and to in­vest in a start-up.

“We thought, ‘When will we ever find our­selves in this sit­u­a­tion again?’ And we’ve never looked back. I’m so grateful for be­ing made re­dun­dant,” Lau­rinda says. >

But with a new busi­ness comes hard work and life was, and still is, hec­tic. Lau­rinda flies in­ter­na­tion­ally every 10 weeks to des­ti­na­tions like Shanghai, Bali, London and Los An­ge­les.

So it’s lucky the house has proven to be such a sanc­tu­ary for the cou­ple and their teenage son Zandi, 15. It was bought, with much relief, in Septem­ber 2015, after a year and a half of house hunt­ing.

“I’m cer­tainly not in a hurry to move again as it took us 18 months to find this place and it was just hell,” says Lau­rinda. “I feel sorry for any­body looking for prop­erty in the Auckland mar­ket, par­tic­u­larly younger peo­ple, and it’s about to be­come al­most im­pos­si­ble. It was so trau­matic, and so stress­ful.”

She says the pur­chase price was “a bit of a gulp”, but they were im­pressed by how beau­ti­fully it had been ren­o­vated. Although the work had been done nine years pre­vi­ously, it had held up well. The turn-of-the-century villa had been “prac­ti­cally re­built” by builder Da­mon Heile­son, a man with a keen eye for de­sign. “It has been built so well and is so highly specced,” Lau­rinda says.

At some point the orig­i­nal villa had been con­verted into three flats and Da­mon de­mol­ished about half of it, leav­ing just 65sqm – the two front rooms and the hall­way. >


Ar­chi­tect Daniel Mar­shall drew up plans for a re­build, which added a liv­ing room, kitchen, scullery and an up­stairs teenage re­treat. “Zandi’s got his own lounge, bed­room and bath­room. That works well – hav­ing some sep­a­ra­tion, but not to the ex­tent of hav­ing his own en­trance,” Lau­rinda says.

The prop­erty was sub­di­vided and another house was built di­rectly be­hind them.

“The back wall of our house is the re­tain­ing wall for their swim­ming pool, which is spooky some­times. You’d think if there was ever a leak, the pool would be down in the house,” Lau­rinda says.

How­ever, that was never going to de­ter the cou­ple, whose own pool has be­come one of their favourite places to find some “me” time or to en­ter­tain. “On a beau­ti­ful evening when the doors are open and the lights are all on dim, it’s re­ally quite spec­tac­u­lar,” Lau­rinda says. “It’s truly my happy place.”

THESE PAGES The floor-to-ceil­ing glass doors slide right back to let the out­side in at Lau­rinda and Brent Sut­cliffe’s home in Auckland’s Herne Bay; Lau­rinda says the liv­ing room was dif­fi­cult to fur­nish as there is “so much glass and not a lot of wall space”; the pool­side bean­bags are from Ba­li­nese store Soo San­taï and the out­door chairs are from Thread De­sign.

THIS PAGE (clock­wise from top) The liv­ing room doors open onto the re­turn ve­ran­dah; Lau­rinda has owned the Si­mon James cof­fee ta­ble for 15 years. The Ba­li­nese Hindu wed­ding pro­ces­sion sculp­tures sit on a side ta­ble in the hall; the mir­ror was a 40th birth­day gift from Lau­rinda’s par­ents and was her great-grand­mother’s. Lau­rinda gave Brent the an­tique chess set, hop­ing he’d have more time to play when they started their busi­ness: “In fact he has less,” she says.

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