His­tory in the mak­ing This for­mer state house gains height with­out los­ing sight of its roots

A for­mer state house in Auck­land’s Orakei has gained a new top storey while hold­ing true to its spe­cial place in the city’s so­cial his­tory

Your Home and Garden - - Contents - Text by An­nick Larkin. Pho­tog­ra­phy by Jackie Meir­ing.


The orig­i­nal foun­da­tions needed re-pil­ing and the ce­ment roof tiles were leak­ing.

There wasn’t enough room to ac­com­mo­date friends and fam­ily vis­it­ing from over­seas, po­ten­tially for lengthy pe­ri­ods.

Views of the Waitem­ata Har­bour from the house were not be­ing cap­i­talised on.


The foun­da­tions were strength­ened, al­low­ing a sec­ond storey to be built on top of the for­mer 1930s state home.

The down­stairs liv­ing space was re­con­fig­ured and in­creased and three bed­rooms in­cluded on the up­per level.

Strate­gi­cally placed win­dows now take full ad­van­tage of the views out to Ran­gi­toto and be­yond.


In 2009, Katie Wil­son and Steve Evans moved to New Zealand from their na­tive Scot­land after Steve was in­vited to take a po­si­tion as con­sul­tant pae­di­atric surgeon at Star­ship Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal, Auck­land.

As Steve is of­ten on call for emer­gen­cies, the cou­ple scoured the hospi­tal’s sur­round­ing sub­urbs of Re­muera, New­mar­ket, Grafton and Par­nell in search of a rental prop­erty. Un­for­tu­nately, there was noth­ing suit­able avail­able at the time, so they ex­panded their hunt to in­clude Orakei, where they found a long-term rental. “Al­though it wasn’t a place that we knew, rent­ing in Orakei allowed us to test the sub­urb and we very quickly re­alised that we loved the area,” re­calls Katie.


In 2013, the cou­ple – by now par­ents to two lit­tle boys, Luca and Har­ley – de­cided it was time to put down some roots and pur­chased a four-bed­room house in a neigh­bour­ing street to where they’d been rent­ing. “We fell in love with the lit­tle, white tim­ber weath­er­board house. But more than that, we loved the so­cial and cul­tural sig­nif­i­cance of the house, which was one of the very first state homes in Auck­land,” says Katie.

The 1930s house was in fairly good con­di­tion decor-wise, but the foun­da­tions were badly in need of re­pair and many of the orig­i­nal con­crete roof tiles were dam­aged and let­ting in wa­ter. The kitchen and bath­rooms were cheap, small and dated yet per­fectly func­tional. Upon mov­ing in, Katie and Steve in­stalled a gas ducted heat­ing sys­tem but, be­yond that, did noth­ing else, know­ing full well that they would do more ex­ten­sive work at some point.


By 2015 the cou­ple were ready to make some changes and ar­chi­tec­ture grad­u­ate Katie started draw­ing up their plans.

She worked on the de­signs for about a year. It was im­por­tant to her and Steve to re­spect the home’s his­tory and con­tinue the aes­thetic and val­ues of the orig­i­nal house, while mak­ing it a com­fort­able and func­tional home for the whole fam­ily. “We lived in the home for three years be­fore we em­barked on a ren­o­va­tion so that I could re­ally un­der­stand the build­ing, the site and how we as a fam­ily wanted to use the house,” ex­plains Katie.

The house had been ex­tended in 2006 which, un­der coun­cil reg­u­la­tions, meant it couldn’t be ex­tended any fur­ther at ground level. As the cou­ple had to re­place the foun­da­tions and reroof any­way, build­ing up was the ob­vi­ous thing to do. To stay true to the style of the home, Katie kept its cot­tage pro­por­tions and added small dormer win­dows on the new up­per level. She also matched ex­ist­ing ma­te­ri­als in­side and out (weath­er­boards, floor­ing, skirt­ing, ar­chi­traves and doors) and en­sured there was plenty of space for work, play and rest.

Al­though she has worked as an ar­chi­tect in the UK and for New Zealand firm Jas­max, Katie is not a New Zealand-reg­is­tered ar­chi­tect and there­fore can’t sub­mit draw­ings to coun­cil her­self, so she em­ployed McKinstry Projects, an ar­chi­tec­tural de­sign and build com­pany, to de­velop her plans for re­source and build­ing con­sent as well as han­dle the build.


The new top storey com­prises two bath­rooms and three spa­cious bed­rooms, each with views of Bas­tion Point, Ran­gi­toto and a peek of the Whanga­paraoa Penin­sula. The down­stairs has been trans­formed to in­clude a spa­cious open-plan liv­ing, din­ing and kitchen area which opens onto a land­scaped gar­den and pool, a play­room, study and a large guest suite (the orig­i­nal mas­ter bed­room). The lay­out is com­pact, clever and has ev­ery­thing a fam­ily of four needs.

Win­dows have played a huge part in Katie’s de­sign. In the new sec­tion of the house, con­tem­po­rary alu­minium join­ery was cho­sen to con­trast with the tim­ber frames of the old house. Katie has art­fully po­si­tioned win­dows to cre­ate in­ter­est and of­fer de­light­ful views as you travel through the in­te­rior. In the main bed­room, a wide cor­ner win­dow serves up a slice of Whanga­paraoa from the bed, and floor-to-ceil­ing slots on the east side al­low glimpses of the sun­rise and the pri­vate gar­den. Cab­bage trees are vis­i­ble from the stair­well ‘win­dow box’, and the boys’ rooms fea­ture full-length win­dows set into box-like pro­jec­tions – com­plete with read­ing nooks – giv­ing a whim­si­cal sense of be­ing in­side a tree house.


Al­though Katie was re­spon­si­ble for the ar­chi­tec­tural de­sign, she got equal en­joy­ment from de­sign­ing and dec­o­rat­ing the in­te­rior. So much so that she has now set up her own busi­ness, In­tegritet In­te­ri­ors. Her home’s decor is sim­ple, prac­ti­cal and play­ful, with plen­ti­ful tim­ber, con­crete, white and tex­ture point­ing to a strong Scan­di­na­vian in­flu­ence. The palette is muted, bar­ring the oc­ca­sional metal­lic or crys­tal ac­cent, and al­though more than 15 colours have been used, they are soft and tonal.

The mas­ter bed­room is heav­enly with a dark and sul­try colour scheme, whereas the boys’ rooms are more light-hearted, ex­press­ing their dif­fer­ent in­ter­ests and colour pref­er­ences. The moody grey stair­case is a strong but sim­ple state­ment, high­light­ing the con­nec­tion be­tween the orig­i­nal home and the ex­ten­sion.

“There is so much light in the stair­well that I knew it could take the dark hue,” says Katie. “The dark tone high­lights our beau­ti­ful Max Gim­blett qua­tre­foil art­works, which I ut­terly love be­cause of what they rep­re­sent about New Zealand spirit, past and present.”

The din­ing area was Katie’s favourite zone to dec­o­rate. The so­phis­ti­cated space in­cor­po­rates at­mo­spheric art and hand­blown light­ing yet is ro­bust enough to be used by the whole fam­ily. “I re­ally wanted a beau­ti­ful, ma­ture din­ing area that we could use for lunch and din­ner par­ties,” says Katie.


De­scribed by Katie as “lagom” – Swedish for “just the right amount” – this home is not too much and not too lit­tle. It has the right bal­ance of qual­ity and sim­plic­ity, space and com­pact­ness, en­ergy and peace, na­ture and man­made. This home is sim­ple, hon­est, un­com­pli­cated and wel­com­ing, nur­tur­ing the fam­ily who live here while simultaneously re­spect­ing its neigh­bours and its place in the coun­try’s so­cial his­tory.


Live in the house for at least a year be­fore you be­gin plan­ning. You must un­der­stand the site, the house, the views and how the sun moves around the site all year.

Choose a de­signer and builder that you trust and get on well with. It be­comes a very close re­la­tion­ship for a while and it’s vi­tal that you re­ally trust their ad­vice.

While the bud­get is very im­por­tant, some­times short-term gains are lost be­cause of is­sues down the track. The cheap­est price may not nec­es­sar­ily be the best op­tion.

CLOCK­WISE FROM FAR LEFT Main bed­room The serene tones in this ef­fort­lessly sim­ple scheme evoke feel­ings of cosi­ness and calm. Boys’ bath­room A Lego-yel­low tap and dis­penser by As­tra Walker add a dash of fun in Luca and Har­ley’s bath­room. Guest...

DIN­ING, LIV­ING Want­ing a “beau­ti­ful, ma­ture” din­ing area for host­ing din­ner par­ties as well as fam­ily meals, Katie com­bined white walls and an oak ta­ble with dark greys, moody art­work and hand­blown glass lights.


KITCHEN Katie’s co­he­sive colour palette nat­u­rally in­cludes the kitchen, where tones of white, grey and bleached oak cre­ate a Scan­di­na­vian flavour.

EN­SUITE The deep jewel tone of Re­sene ‘San Juan’ gen­er­ates a warm, luxe vibe. The oak and mir­rored cab­i­netry were cho­sen to con­trast with the dark wall while also bring­ing light and tex­ture to the space.

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