Sim­ply beau­ti­ful con­cept

Form and func­tion were prin­ci­ples in ren­o­va­tion, writes Cather­ine Smith

Weekend Herald - - HERALD HOMES - RE­MUERA

Louise Eck­hoff has clear views on what a house should be and how it should func­tion for her fam­ily. It was this view that drove the ren­o­va­tion of the grand old home on the cul de sac of Rid­ings Rd, off Re­muera Rd. “I be­lieve in the Wil­liam Mor­ris phi­los­o­phy of hav­ing noth­ing in your house that you do not know to be use­ful or be­lieve to be beau­ti­ful,” she says. “This might be a big house, but I’ve tried to cre­ate dif­fer­ent liv­ing spa­ces so ev­ery room re­ally works hard and has a pur­pose. It’s beau­ti­ful and use­ful.”

When the fam­ily moved to Auck­land in 2000, their twin girls were only 3, so they wanted a home and neigh­bour­hood the girls could grow up in. Louise says that she got more than she’d re­alised. The charm­ing shin­gled house sits on the cor­ner of a no- exit street that turned out to be a real com­mu­nity, com­plete with street Christ­mas par­ties. But with the girls now at Otago Univer­sity, it is time to down­size.

Louise is not sure of the orig­i­nal ar­chi­tect, only know­ing the house ap­pears in a 1910 pho­to­graph of the street. At some point in the 1980s the three­storey build­ing was ex­tended to in­clude a dou­ble garage with liv­ing room above, and con­ser­va­to­rystyle stair­case down to the ground floor rooms. The shin­gled ex­te­rior, a mix of Arts & Crafts- meet­sHamp­tons won her heart, but the in­te­rior was an old- fash­ioned ar­range­ment.

While con­sid­er­ing the best way to re­ar­range the house, she made a start on the grounds, call­ing on Strass Land­scapes’ Craig Steiner to turn a slop­ing, shady front yard into us­able space. A fire­place wall and ter­raced gar­den beds, topped by three spec­tac­u­larly top­i­aried crab ap­ple trees, is now a de­light­ful out­door sit­ting area, a pretty out­look from the sit­ting room. “I wanted a gar­den where some­thing is hap­pen­ing ev­ery sea­son,” says Louise.

She then set to work on re­ar­rang­ing the in­te­rior. The for­mer kitchen was tucked into a cor­ner of the house — it had views through to Ran­gi­toto, but was cut off from fam­ily liv­ing. A long, for­mal draw­ing room was barely used, with a cir­cuitous route to the me­dia room over the garage.

In keep­ing with her “rooms have to work



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harder” phi­los­o­phy, Louise moved the kitchen to the draw­ing room, en­clos­ing a veran­dah to make an airy, wel­com­ing fam­ily room. Glass french doors now mean Ran­gi­toto and the sea can be seen from one end of the house to the other. Floors through­out were uni­fied in a dark- stained, wide­plank oak. The kitchen has an English- style scheme with pan­elled cup­boards, pewter and nickel han­dles and taps and lux­u­ri­ous Alba mar­ble bench top and splash back tile.

The for­mer kitchen be­came a guest room, and there is a charm­ing guest bath­room here, too.

Dur­ing ren­o­va­tions, the ground floor was ex­ca­vated sev­eral feet to cre­ate a gen­er­ous room that has served as rum­pus space, gym, guest room and more. With its own bath­room and sep­a­rate en­trance it would be a great guest or granny suite.

There is also a laun­dry open­ing off the car­peted garage, which has been handy for cater­ers set­ting up for par­ties.

The up­per floor has three gen­er­ous dou­ble bed­rooms, two with views through tree tops across the val­ley or up to Mt Hob­son.

The master bed­room has a gen­er­ous walk- in closet, a bath­room and a handy chute to the laun­dry be­low. Its en­closed bal­cony has more views of the sea.

“We shall miss it dearly, and our own lit­tle en­clave. But the new fam­ily will love it, too,” says Louise.

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