Our cover home’s mag­i­cal mash-up

NZ House & Garden - - FRONT PAGE -

‘Iwas al­ways scared of this house,” says San­dra Stock­well, now sit­ting, re­laxed, in its beau­ti­fully ren­o­vated front re­cep­tion room. “It was a real eye­sore, and peo­ple would shout out at you when­ever you walked past.”

A grand fam­ily home, built at the turn of the 19th cen­tury for a prom­i­nent Auck­land councillor, the two-storey Free­mans Bay villa had fallen into dis­re­pair. It was con­verted into a 15-bed­room board­ing house in the mid 1920s and it was all down­hill from there.

Doug was ner­vous about this house too, but for a dif­fer­ent rea­son. “If you ever wanted the ul­ti­mate villa, this is it. It’s the Holy Grail,” he says. “I never in my wildest dreams thought we would have any­thing like this. It was the un­known that con­cerned me – what we would un­cover once we got into the house.”

But hav­ing lived in the area for 20 years, watched oth­ers ren­o­vate and seen prop­erty val­ues rocket, Doug, a quan­tity sur­veyor, knew that if they had the courage to take on such a com­plex ren­o­va­tion the re­sult would be re­mark­able.

San­dra and Doug’s vi­sion was to re­store the im­pos­ing prop­erty’s heritage el­e­gance, with a mod­ern touch. The cou­ple had enough ren­o­va­tion ex­pe­ri­ence to know they could make it hap­pen. They’d al­ready re­vamped two houses on the same street. Num­ber 11 got a makeover in the late 90s, then when num­ber 33 came on the market they snapped that up and con­verted it to a lux­ury B&B, Bella’s, named after their much-loved dog, a long-haired grif­fon. >

Lessons learned

Best bud­get tip? Know the win­ning Lotto num­bers, says Doug. But se­ri­ously, cre­ate a re­al­is­tic bud­get as soon as you can and keep track of ac­tual costs against the bud­get so you can ad­just if you need to, he says. And try not to change your mind once con­struc­tion starts, says San­dra. That can be costly.

How to make the best choices? Plan well ahead when choos­ing hard­ware and light fit­tings to avoid rushed pur­chases, says San­dra. Many high-end products need to be or­dered ahead and can take months to ar­rive.

How to sur­vive a mas­sive reno? Doug’s ad­vice: Never ar­gue with your wife.

Work­ing with a de­signer on their B&B sparked San­dra’s in­ter­est in in­te­ri­ors, and she en­rolled to study with one of New Zealand’s most em­i­nent de­sign­ers, Nanette Cameron. “Work­ing with Nanette opened up the doors to so many top-end de­sign­ers, par­tic­u­larly across in Melbourne and Syd­ney. That was re­ally in­spi­ra­tional to be able to go and visit these homes, first hand.”

All San­dra and Doug’s com­bined ren­o­va­tion and de­sign ex­pe­ri­ence was needed for this lat­est project. The home was so run­down that it was a chal­lenge to imag­ine how it would look when it was fin­ished, says San­dra.

“I’d like to think that we’ve been sym­pa­thetic to the his­tory of the house, re­tain­ing its char­ac­ter – the plas­ter ceil­ings and the mould­ings in­side and restor­ing the ve­ran­dahs on the out­side – but given it a real mod­ern twist,” says San­dra. >

In a bold move, the cou­ple de­cided to em­pha­sise the con­trast be­tween old and new. “This house has huge vol­umes and strong tra­di­tional fea­tures, so you can in­tro­duce some re­ally edgy, con­tem­po­rary pieces and de­sign de­tails and still get away with it,” Doug says. Nowhere is this more ev­i­dent that in the kitchen and liv­ing area, where Doug came up with the idea of keep­ing the orig­i­nal de­tail­ing, but in­tro­duc­ing ul­tra-mod­ern fin­ishes.

“I also love that area be­cause of the ex­posed steel fram­ing. It’s funny, some peo­ple come into the house and see the steel and say, ‘You’re go­ing to cover that up, and box it all in, eh?’ I say: ‘No, we’re ex­pos­ing it be­cause we love it.’”

The cou­ple worked with Doug’s for­mer busi­ness part­ner John Ea­glen from Ea­glen Homes on the de­sign and as the project gath­ered mo­men­tum they were hands-on ren­o­va­tors too.

San­dra spent months on scaf­fold­ing with her heat gun, strip­ping ev­ery­thing back to bare tim­ber. “A lot of the tradies didn’t re­alise I was the owner,” she says. Doug re­stored the plas­ter ceil­ings.

When it comes to de­ci­sion-mak­ing, San­dra says the pair are very dif­fer­ent: “I’m im­pul­sive and de­ci­sive – I know what I like and what I don’t like. Doug’s a slow burn. He analy­ses and con­tem­plates ev­ery pos­si­ble sce­nario, then fi­nally makes a de­ci­sion. It’s a chal­leng­ing com­bi­na­tion, but we get there in the end.” >


Favourite kitchen ap­pli­ance: Zenith in­stant hot wa­ter tap. Throw away the ket­tle and no paus­ing of the TV re­quired. (San­dra)

Big­gest de­bate: Hav­ing such a large house with so many rooms, choos­ing paint colours for the in­te­ri­ors and ex­te­ri­ors was chal­leng­ing. Test pots of­ten ap­peared dif­fer­ent when ap­plied on the walls from the orig­i­nal paint charts. (San­dra)

We couldn’t have done it with­out: Our builder, Alis­tair Raw, who was multi-skilled and had a pas­sion for the project. A very suc­cess­ful col­lab­o­ra­tion. (Doug) In the next five or 10 years I’d like to: Re­fur­bish a brick ware­house-type build­ing with a dou­ble-height space, ex­posed steel and brick, and lots of glass and tim­ber. (Doug)

San­dra and Doug Stock­well

San­dra was pre­pared to wait when it came to pur­chases for their ren­o­vated home: “If you’ve got good taste, you’ll find that most things are too ex­pen­sive,” she says. “My ad­vice would be to stick to the higher end items, join their mail­ing lists and wait for the sales. Luck­ily with this project, we had the lux­ury of time – three years – so we could wait for the right pieces at the right price.”

Now that it’s fin­ished, and hav­ing thor­oughly en­joyed run­ning their B&B, there are plans to open up their home again to lux­ury trav­ellers. But they’re also rev­el­ling in their re­vamped home: “Es­sen­tially it’s like hav­ing a brand new home with all mod cons... but also hav­ing so much char­ac­ter,” says San­dra.

THIS PAGE San­dra and Doug Stock­well were de­lighted to dis­cover the turned wood de­tails on the stair­case and this en­try to the re­cep­tion room of their Free­mans Bay villa; it had all been boxed in when the home was a board­ing house. OP­PO­SITE Orig­i­nal fea­tures were painstak­ingly re­vived and en­hanced by mod­ern fix­tures, such as the Tom Dixon Melt lights.

THESE PAGES (clock­wise from top left) The Le­icht kitchen was in­stalled by Avan­te­garde; the ex­posed steel beams are one of Doug’s favourite fea­tures and metal high­lights are car­ried through into the kitchen as shelv­ing and door pulls; the mod­ern, tim­ber-slat­ted ceil­ing de­mar­cates the space. The fam­ily liv­ing area looks out to the pool; an In­vis­i­ble pen­dant from Light­house con­trasts with the or­nate ceil­ing; the dou­ble-sided gas fire­place is from Escea. Blue Ade­laide chairs from BoCon­cept in the for­mal din­ing room are il­lu­mi­nated by a Mira pen­dant from Light­ing Plus. Doug and San­dra with their long-haired grif­fon, Bella, in their new, in­dus­trial-in­spired kitchen.

THIS PAGE (clock­wise from top left) San­dra ad­mires the work of Aus­tralian in­te­rior de­signer Greg Natale and thinks this black and white hall run­ner chan­nels his style.

OP­PO­SITE Shut­ters from Bright­shine have been used on most win­dows; the mas­ter bed­room fea­tures a pair of Mango chairs from Daw­son & Co.

Mar­ble-pat­terned porce­lain tiles from The Tile Peo­ple give the mas­ter en suite a lux­u­ri­ous look; the Ha­tria Abito basins are from Bath Co. Dream Bike by Paul Har­ti­gan in one of the guest bed­rooms.

OP­PO­SITE The new rooftop gar­den is planted with corokia, na­tive grasses and irises to give pri­vacy from the street and pre­serve the views.

THIS PAGE (from top) San­dra and Doug in the se­cluded court­yard off the main din­ing room; three For­nasetti plates adorn the wall. Pol­ished and per­fect once again, and ready for the next hun­dred years.

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