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A Californian bungalow in Auckland gets a massive overhaul

Space was a priority for this family when they were looking for a special place to call home in Auckland and this Californian bungalow was just the ticket

A Californian bungalow in Auckland gets a massive overhaul

Pip Patterson (operations manager at Soho Wine Company), Chris Patterson (barrister), Ty, 9, and Jake, 8, Lexie the German shorthaired pointer.

Pip, this was a major renovation, what was your main aim? We were doing it for the long term. We wanted to make sure the house wouldn’t look dated in years to come so we chose good quality fixtures and fittings. It was really important to do it properly.

Although the renovation went very smoothly, is there anything you would do differently next time? In hindsight we would have had a door on the top master bedroom level. It’s nice to have an open-plan space but a door would be helpful just for the noise.

Any changes planned for the future? When the boys are teenagers they will move into the two downstairs rooms (one is currently being used as Chris’ home office) so they can have their own spaces. We built another bathroom on that floor also. But other than that it’s time now to just enjoy our space.

The renovation journey

Space is something you tend to take for granted when growing up in the South Island. Not so much in inner-city Auckland. The dilemma facing mainlanders Chris and Pip Patterson when looking for a house to raise their young family in was how to find a similar sense of expansiveness in Grey Lynn, a suburb where rapid intensification is making big sections a thing of the past.

After missing out on a number of auctions they finally found a partially extended Californian bungalow on an 837-square-metre north-facing site with five bedrooms and a swimming pool. “We saw it advertised online and bought it before the first open home,” says Pip. “As well as its size and the pool, one of the main attractions of the property for us was that the living area opens straight outside to the backyard. It also had scope for significant improvement.”

The house had been partially extended two decades earlier, with a “pop top” added to create an upstairs bedroom as well as a basement storage area. The previous owners had lived there throughout those 20 years so it was in need of quite a major spruce up, says Pip. “We bought the house planning to renovate it.”

Before they could start work on the house the couple had to remove and replace the existing pool at the back of the property, as a new garage that would block future access for earth moving equipment was planned for the street frontage. They increased the pool to 50 square metres which Pip was initially unsure about. “It was a bit on the large side but now two summers later we often have 15 kids plus in there, and it doesn’t feel like it is squashed at all.”

When work began on the house itself the family had to move out but fortunately they could continue to use the pool, as they were able to rent a property directly behind their own. This second stage, designed by architect Matt Godward, involved gutting the entire interior. “Previously the house had a stairway through the middle which was really a waste of good living space so we moved it to the side,” says Pip. “Our brief was for one big kitchen/living space running north to south from one end of the house to the other.”

This beautiful space is now the hub of the home connecting through glass doors to the garden and pool area in a seamless flow. Pip loves to cook and the long, elegant white Stonecraft island bench allows her to do this while talking to guests.

One of her favourite rooms in the house is the scullery off the kitchen, which also doubles as a laundry. “The kitchen was a challenging space because it is quite skinny and awkward. The scullery means we can keep the main kitchen fairly uncluttered. The fridge is in there, as well as two extra sinks and another dishwasher.  When Sam Saxton-Beer, our kitchen designer, suggested another dishwasher I thought it was a bit over the top at first, but I was sold the first night we entertained a few of our friends.”

A sitting/TV room at the southern end of the open-plan living area can be opened to make an even larger space or closed off to create a cosy feel. Off the entrance hall on the same floor are the main bathroom and two bedrooms.

“We kept the original bungalow features such as stained-glass windows in the front sitting room and bedrooms, which add character. We also made sure new features such as the glass doors to the garden were in keeping with the bungalow style,” says Pip.

Upstairs is the open-plan master bedroom with an ensuite bathroom, walk-in wardrobe and Pip’s office. She describes this area as “an absolute sun trap. Chris and I love having our own floor. It has amazing views. We can see Mt Eden, Mt Albert, One Tree Hill and Mount Roskill from our bedroom. The west-facing window frames the Waitakere Ranges, it’s so nice to wake up and see that.”

Clever tricks

  • As her family is planning to live in their house longterm Pip chose an all white colour scheme (Resene ‘Wan White’) to give the house a timeless feel and also allow her art collection to provide the colour. She has used anaglypta wallpaper (Graham & Brown ‘Jana’) to add interest and texture.
  • Pale colours are best for displaying art but picking the right white can be hard, as Pip discovered. “It blew me away just how many whites there were,” she says. Many paint companies employ colour consultants who can help you choose.
  • Lighting can be tricky, especially when you have a lot of art on the walls and open-plan spaces. A lighting designer can help avoid costly mistakes.
  • For an uncluttered interior work out your lighting, music, security and data needs before building starts so cabling can be fully integrated. In the Patterson house they can drive the music for the house from their smart phones.

Words by: Carol Bucknell. Photography by: Melanie Jenkins

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