Good things take time

Ren­o­vat­ing a run­down home can take far longer than you think – even for The Block NZ veter­ans Alice and Caleb

Your Home and Garden - - Contents - Text by Es­ther Gor­don.

Caleb and Alice Pear­son, for­mer win­ners of

The Block NZ, had their work cut out for them with this 1960s re­build


When Alice and Caleb Pear­son were ap­proached to trans­form a di­lap­i­dated 1960s house for a tele­vi­sion show called The Ul­ti­mate Reno on Three, they jumped at the op­por­tu­nity. The Glen­dowie prop­erty as­signed to them en­joyed un­fet­tered views of park­land and out to the Hau­raki

Gulf, as well as a level of pri­vacy that can be hard to find close to Auck­land’s in­ner city. These at­tributes, plus its large, north-fac­ing sec­tion, were enough for the pair to com­mit their cre­ative ta­lents to restor­ing the house, which was largely in its orig­i­nal state.


With a new home to ren­o­vate and a cam­era crew on hand to cap­ture the ex­pe­ri­ence, Alice and Caleb set to work se­lect­ing a team that could bring their vi­sion to life. They com­mis­sioned the ser­vices of Stu­art Huggett of Ar­chi­tects Pa­cific. Alice was a fan of his pre­vi­ous work on re­sorts in Fiji, which fit­ted with her plans to cre­ate a home with a re­laxed, ‘hol­i­day’ feel.

With the ar­chi­tect se­cured, the cou­ple then en­listed the ser­vices of QBS Builders, whose pos­i­tive tes­ti­mo­ni­als and rep­u­ta­tion for good at­ten­tion to de­tail were a huge draw­card for Caleb.


Alice and Caleb’s main goal was to cap­i­talise on the home’s spec­tac­u­lar views. The house it­self was dark and cav­ernous with two non-com­pli­ant decks which were un­us­able. To change this, huge win­dows and doors that opened onto full-size decks were to be added. The base­ment area, which was a jumble of util­ity ar­eas in­clud­ing a laun­dry, was to be re­con­fig­ured into us­able liv­ing spa­ces. The kitchen and bath­rooms were to be to­tally re­placed and an en­tire third-storey loft with a spa­cious master bed­room was planned.


With any ren­o­va­tion there is al­ways an el­e­ment of sur­prise, and this un­touched 1960s home proved to be no ex­cep­tion to the rule.

As work be­gan on the house, the cou­ple quickly re­alised its prob­lems went deeper than poor lay­out and a lack of deck­ing.

As­bestos was found on the site, and the home was damp and gen­er­ally in a state of dis­re­pair. Then the en­gi­neer­ing re­port re­vealed that the base­ment floor was sub­sid­ing, mak­ing the home struc­turally un­sound. In short, the en­tire house was slowly sink­ing.

“In parts, the win­dows and doors couldn’t even be opened,” says Alice. “The house had had so many cor­ners cut in the build, it was a won­der it was still stand­ing.”


“The de­sign process was a stress­ful one,” says Alice. “What was orig­i­nally a ren­o­va­tion es­sen­tially be­came a re­build in or­der to strengthen the house and bring ev­ery­thing up to code. Stu­art and his team at Ar­chi­tects Pa­cific had to work very closely with en­gi­neer Lucy Ed­wards and her team at Ch­ester En­gi­neer­ing.”

In or­der to con­tinue with any sort of ren­o­va­tion, the house needed to be made level. The com­pany House Lifters was called in to per­form this small mir­a­cle, and the build­ing was raised, then lev­elled and a new foun­da­tion laid, mak­ing the home struc­turally sound and ready for ren­o­va­tion.


The cou­ple’s ren­o­va­tion had rolled into the realms of a re­build and thou­sands had been spent on un­ex­pected foun­da­tion prob­lems, so in or­der to com­plete the project within bud­get, the ini­tial ar­chi­tec­tural plans had to be aban­doned.

To claw back money, the third-storey loft was com­pletely scrapped. Stu­art in­stead fo­cused on work­ing within the orig­i­nal frame­work of the home and giv­ing it a new lease of life. “He added el­e­ments that make a huge im­pact,” says Alice. Huge glass stacker doors do jus­tice to those views and deck­ing ar­eas cre­ate won­der­ful in­door-out­door flow.

Down­stairs, an ex­tra bed­room and bath­room were added, along with a spa­cious fam­ily room and study. Up­stairs, two bed­rooms were con­verted into one large master suite. An open­plan liv­ing and kitchen area with a cathe­dral ceil­ing cre­ates the “open liv­ing and big spa­ces” that Alice and Caleb en­vi­sioned.

The new de­sign was much more af­ford­able than the orig­i­nal plans but was still an ele­gant, stylish and prac­ti­cal so­lu­tion for fam­ily liv­ing.


Alice wanted to in­tro­duce some bold colour ac­cents to her neu­tral pal­ette. “Pick­ing a pal­ette isn’t just about wall colours, but all the colours you want to bring into the house. Ev­ery­thing is part of a colour scheme, from the lights to the cab­i­netry and even a cush­ion.”

Her vi­sion was for a warm, earthy and or­ganic feel. The yel­low splash of Re­sene ‘Gold Coast’ on a wall in the fam­ily room is off­set by sage green and or­ange cush­ions. The dusty blue (Re­sene Karen Walker ‘Periglacial Blue’) in the master bed­room is mar­ried with warm greys and soft pink bed­ding. Graphic rugs and art also add to the over­all pal­ette.

Alice chose a sandy Cava­lier Brem­worth loop-pile car­pet, rem­i­nis­cent of the beach, which con­trasts nicely with the black win­dow join­ery and kitchen and bath­room fix­tures. Hints of black in the soft fur­nish­ings and pic­ture frames re­in­force the colour scheme.


To add depth through­out the home, the cou­ple fo­cused on in­tro­duc­ing tex­ture via wooden shut­ters and blinds in the bed­rooms and warm tim­ber ac­cents in the ex­posed ceil­ing beams and in­ter­nal bat­ten screens. Alice se­lected ele­gant and sim­ple Ry­lock doors to be fit­ted through­out the house. “The idea was for the doors to blend seam­lessly into the walls,” she says.

De­spite its many prob­lems, the one thing the home did de­liver was beau­ti­ful na­tive tim­ber floors. “South Pa­cific Tim­ber sourced sus­tain­able rimu for us, and the build­ing team nailed it down by hand to patch up ar­eas that needed re­plac­ing,” says Alice.

A pal­ette of tac­tile fin­ishes – in­clud­ing con­crete, tim­ber and stone – is echoed in decor such as the rat­tan and tim­ber bar stools from Har­vey Nor­man, the wo­ven light­shades over the kitchen is­land, chunky pat­terned planters and the large wood-and-bas­ket­work pots in the en­try­way. Plenty of lush green plants are pep­pered through­out the home, ce­ment­ing its strong con­nec­tion to na­ture.


The ren­o­va­tion of this home was a long and, at times, de­mor­al­is­ing ride. What started as a 10-week plan turned into a year-long project with more than its fair share of dis­as­ters. “Some of us won­dered if the house was haunted, as some of the prob­lems we faced seemed too ridicu­lous or cruel to be true!” laughs Alice.

The re­al­ity of home ren­o­va­tion is that good things take time, and what Alice, Caleb and their team even­tu­ally achieved is a blend of mind­ful restora­tion and good de­sign. The home is now not only a beau­ti­ful, light-filled space, but also an ex­tremely live­able one.

Pho­tog­ra­phy by Helen Bankers.


FAM­ILY ROOM A beige linen sofa from Har­vey Nor­man an­chors the space, while shiny plants in stone and tim­ber planters add an earthy feel. BATH­ROOM Chic black tap­ware and towel rails are warmed up with wooden and ce­ramic ac­ces­sories.




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