Un­ex­pected plea­sures

Af­ter the Christchurch earth­quake this home­owner was look­ing for some­thing pe­tite and fix-up­pable… so how did she end up here?

Your Home and Garden - - Con­tents - Text by Ady Shan­non. Pho­tog­ra­phy by Kate Clar­idge.

Fall­ing in love with this un­usual Christchurch home wasn’t part of the plan…


When the Fe­bru­ary 2011 earth­quake hit Christchurch, the two-storey, art deco-in­spired home Denise Re­nal­son shared with her part­ner was no match for its force. In the after­math Denise was con­tent to rent some­where smaller for a while, but in Oc­to­ber 2012 when her re­la­tion­ship foundered, she made a plan to down­size fur­ther and find a cosy, sin­gle-storey place that could ben­e­fit from a makeover. But an im­pres­sive photo lay­out in a glossy real-es­tate magazine gave her sec­ond thoughts. “I saw this place ad­ver­tised and I thought it looked in­ter­est­ing,” she says.

The colo­nial-style home, less than a kilo­me­tre from her for­mer res­i­dence, over­looks the wil­low-lined banks of the Heath­cote River and an ex­pan­sive park beyond. Denise was smit­ten from the mo­ment she crossed the thresh­old. Un­de­terred by the land’s TC3 rat­ing (which means it is at risk of liq­ue­fac­tion dam­age in large earth­quakes) and the iden­ti­fied risk of one-in-100-year flood­ing, she was tempted to make an of­fer. The slate roof, rough-hewn brick­work and large gar­den were also “just a lit­tle off-putting”, but Denise was en­cour­aged by ad­vice from her lawyer. “He rec­om­mended I buy a place I adored rather than let per­ceived risks cloud my judg­ment.” She de­cided to go ahead and buy the home even though it was sig­nif­i­cantly dif­fer­ent to the ‘ideal’ prop­erty she had ear­lier imag­ined.


Four years on, Denise has made some changes to the home and gar­den to re­flect her per­sonal taste and life­style. A gravel drive on the bound­ary line leads to the front door, but guests are far more likely to en­ter via the trel­lised gate on the street. A path leads through the pri­vate gar­den, across a wooden bridge over the fish pond and up to the sun-drenched court­yard and pa­tio area. The house forms an ‘L’ shape and mul­ti­ple sets of French doors run along the in­ner sides of the ‘L’, con­nect­ing the beau­ti­ful tiled pas­sage­way in­side to the con­crete-tiled pa­tio.

Since mov­ing in, Denise has re­placed many of the win­dow treat­ments and ex­changed the orig­i­nal green car­pet for one in char­coal. The dark grey shade is more in keep­ing with her fur­nish­ings and the home’s black and white colour scheme. The in­te­rior has been re­painted in just two tones: white for all join­ery and ceil­ings and a com­bi­na­tion of half-, quar­ter- and full-strength Re­sene ‘Napa’ on the walls.

MEET + GREET Denise Re­nal­son, 49 (co-owner of a con­tract­ing busi­ness), and Mini Cooper the Bri­tish Blue cat.

EN­TRY, HALL­WAY, LIV­ING ROOM This won­der­fully airy, colo­nial-in­spired home en­joys a light, bright in­te­rior thanks to over-height ceil­ings and a wide cen­tral hall­way lined with win­dows and French doors.

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