Deco Dance

Text — Si­mon Far­rell-Green Pho­tog­ra­phy — David Straight

HOME Magazine NZ - - As Good As New -

Henri Sayes ex­tends a 1930s du­plex and for­mer state house with a new kitchen and liv­ing.

“Es­sen­tially, it was a one-bed­room sub­ur­ban apart­ment,” says ar­chi­tect Henri Sayes. “It was very small and very roomy – but in the 1930s sense of roomy, in that it had a lot of poky rooms.” The house was charm­ing but im­prac­ti­cal for mod­ern liv­ing, with a small kitchen and liv­ing spa­ces that were im­pos­si­ble to en­ter­tain in. The own­ers liked the area and the her­itage of the place – small, square and stucco, it had an el­e­gant sim­plic­ity, with brick de­tail­ing around the front door and a built-in planter box at one side. Af­ter a year of liv­ing in the lit­tle house, they called in Sayes – an old friend – to ren­o­vate, ask­ing for more liv­ing area and three bed­rooms, one with an en suite, and a mod­ern ad­di­tion that was sym­pa­thetic to the era, not a white, glassy box. The house is part of a du­plex: it sits on the south side, so Sayes de­cided to ex­tend it close to the bound­ary (a de­ci­sion that re­quired re­source con­sent), build­ing around a north-fac­ing court­yard that runs off the kitchen-din­ing area. He left the orig­i­nal house, with its white stucco walls, largely un­touched, but clad the ex­ten­sion in brick, a ref­er­ence to the en­trance. “There was such a strong lan­guage to the ex­ist­ing house and it had such a great pres­ence in the street that we de­cided to work off what was there,” he says. “Be­ing a du­plex, it had a lot more pres­ence than a stand­alone house – it was re­ally wide. It was very much a box, which you ei­ther latched things onto or punched holes into.” In­side, Sayes tried to re­tain as much as pos­si­ble – the bathroom was left but the fit­tings re­placed; the orig­i­nal rooms were re-pur­posed into bed­rooms. “If we were spend­ing money, we tried to spend it on a new part rather than fix­ing up the old part,” he says. “It was quite a tight lit­tle house and we haven’t changed the pro­por­tions, we’ve just re-pur­posed the orig­i­nal front rooms.” Now, from the street all you can see is a small ex­ten­sion that pops off the side. Out the back, the open-plan liv­ing area ex­tends into the gar­den, hous­ing a kitchen din­ing area at the level of the orig­i­nal house, and a liv­ing area a cou­ple of steps down on the same level as the gar­den. “I was try­ing to cre­ate some sep­a­rate spa­ces,” says Sayes. “Liv­ing ar­eas are funny – you want to glance around the edge of them, so we used this win­dow seat to give the house a ter­mi­na­tion point and a sense of en­clo­sure.” And, where brick ref­er­ences the orig­i­nal house on the out­side, in­side Sayes was care­ful to blur new and old. The tim­ber floor has been laid in a con­trast­ing di­rec­tion to the orig­i­nal and del­i­cately feath­ered into place. There are chunky ar­chi­traves and skirt­ing boards, and a beau­ti­ful slop­ing ceil­ing that gains height over the liv­ing area; lined with white-painted tim­ber bat­tens that the own­ers had to save up for at the end of the project, but which makes it en­tirely. “We tried to make it look like it wasn’t try­ing too hard, rather than rip­ping off what was there or cre­at­ing a whole new lan­guage,” he says. “We didn’t want you to walk through the ex­ist­ing house and then pop out into this en­tirely mod­ern thing. You need a level of de­tail to know you’re in a her­itage house – it’s kind of why the own­ers bought it in the first place.”

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