Home Tours

This stunning black house perfectly suits every season

Article by Your Home and Garden by Shelley Tustin

Entering a new life chapter inspired a family’s move to a simpler, less laborious way of living in a cedar-clad black houseThe 1990s home was extensively renovated and reclad in black-stained cedar.

Home Profile

Meet & greet: Maree (founder of skincare company Evre) and Brad Glading (research and insight manager), children Frankie, 14, and Louie, 12, and Tilly the dog.

The property: A freshly renovated and reclad contemporary four-bedroom 1990s home.

“We really adjusted the house to suit our family needs and how we wanted to live with two older children,” explained Maree.

Maree Glading doesn’t believe in the idea of a forever home – not for herself, at least. “I get bored and I like change and, anyway, you don’t know what the future holds,” she says.

Rather than putting down immovable roots, she believes in finding and embracing a space that suits the life stage one is at right now, which explains how she, her husband Brad and their two children ended up making the dramatic move from a century-old villa to this sharply contemporary Westmere home.

The gift of time

Older homes are faithless lovers, adored for their character and sense of history, but ruthless in their consumption of time and money.

Maree and Brad know this from experience – they had completed two full-scale renovations on period properties, including a Fencible cottage, before finding themselves in a rambling villa. With five bedrooms and multiple living spaces, the house was “ridiculously big”, says Maree, but its generous proportions didn’t make up for its fundamental flaws.

“It needed so much money spent on it and it felt like we still wouldn’t end up with the result we wanted. It just wasn’t built for a modern family.”

In the dining room, a table and chairs from Coco Republic, and full-length curtains create a feeling of opulence.

The endless hours and funds spent on maintaining an older home, which had been a labour of love up to this point, felt like a shackle, holding Maree and Brad back from the joys of spending weekends hanging out with their children, going to the beach and travelling.

“I just came to a point where I was like, ‘There’s got to be more to life than renovating,’” Maree says. “It was a little epiphany. And it was just so liberating.”

The couple wanted a new home that would give them back their time, a tidy, low-maintenance build instead of a three-dimensional to-do list. “We were actually looking at apartments – we wanted something that was going to be a lock up and leave, very low maintenance, something that was just beautifully done and would be suited to our family lifestyle,” says Maree.

The Westmere home they settled on was all that and more – near the water and close to many of their friends, and most importantly, pristinely presented with nothing left to do. The original home had been completely reinvented by developers Resolution Projects. Just old enough to feel a bit tired, it had been stripped right back to the frame and reclad, giving it a fresh, contemporary look inside and out.

Essentially, Maree says, it was a brand-new home, box-fresh and ready for them to move into.

Fusion Kitchens added an extra wing to the existing kitchen, working in the same palette and materials: Cala Eleganza engineered stone benchtops and matte black high-pressure laminate cabinets. The existing Citta AB pendant lights inspired more subtle green accents.

A chance to connect

“I never really liked new houses,” Maree muses, “but I like this one because it’s got a bit of character to it.” Generously high ceilings, premium-quality fittings and inventive architectural details gave it the personality and interest that Maree loves in older homes and often found was missing from new-builds.

But the home’s best feature is a quintessentially modern one – the open-plan living and sense of flow. Their previous home had living rooms aplenty and loads of places to retreat and find privacy, but no space to come together as a family, a quality Maree and Brad were craving as their children entered their teenage years.

An upstairs landing was enclosed to create a cosy living room for the kids, which is furnished with a sofa from St Clements, a Tulip table from Homage and artwork by Alice Berry.

“The kids were in their rooms all the time and we didn’t have a nice, flowing open-plan space where we could all congregate,” Maree says. “Now, when they come down to snaffle food, I see them and I get to talk to them.”

The open-plan kitchen, living and dining space enables conversation to flow freely, whether it’s a regular weekday evening en famille, or hosting a crowd. “I had this dream of an island kitchen – it’s all I ever wanted,” says Maree. “One of the things that I loved about the house is that people could sit and chat while I cook.

And I’ve done more entertaining in the last two months in this house than I probably did in my last house in five years.”

“For this renovation, I have not rushed into buying art just for sake of filling up blank walls,” Maree says. “I want to take my time and invest in pieces I will love forever. In past renos, I have regretted rushing into buying art.”

Improving on perfection

Though the home ticked almost every box, there were a few details to tweak and fittings to install to make it perfectly functional for their family – and seasoned renovators Maree and Brad knew the best time to tackle these tasks was before they moved in.

They swiftly planned a six-week renovation between settlement and moving date, using this time to do things like fitting out the wardrobes and closing off an upstairs landing to create a media room for the kids.

Maree wanted the main suite to feel like a hotel-style retreat. The hydrangea artwork is by Brenda Clews.

The existing kitchen was brand new and lovely, but not quite big enough for their needs, so the couple brought in Fusion Kitchens to extend it. Closing off a doorway to the hall created a blank wall on which they could continue the cabinetry, creating an L-shaped kitchen – and include such entertaining luxuries as a bar area and wine fridge, plus a double oven and appliance cupboard for hiding the toaster and kettle.

Maree also took the opportunity to add opulent elements that make every day feel like a holiday in a high-end hotel. “I really wanted the house to feel grown up and to add a little bit of luxury.”

They had lavishly full curtains made for the bare windows and created a “pamper station” for the main bedroom suite – a built-in dressing table with drawers for Maree’s make-up and jewellery so she doesn’t have to fight for vanity space in a steamy bathroom. “It’s such a game-changer,” she says.

Touches of pink, including Mr Ralph lamps and a Martino Gamper Arnold Circus stool, bring warmth, while the star of the show is Maree’s custom-made pamper space. “It means I can get ready in the morning without crossing paths with Brad in the bathroom,” she says.

A whole new look

Moving from a heritage home to a new one meant a lot of their furniture didn’t really suit anymore, so Maree took the opportunity to change their style completely, upgrading from child-friendly furnishings, once prized for being wipeable and washable, to a more grown-up aesthetic.

“I really feel like my family is at a different stage now. The kids are old enough to respect things and I want nice things.”

Out went the plastic dining chairs and in came white fabric dining chairs and a pale grey linen sofa. “It’s still liveable and you can still sit on the couch and relax, but I want to invest in things that we’re going to keep for a really long time now.”

“I have bought lots of pale upholstered furniture as I figured my kids are older now and can now be trusted,” Maree says. “I hope I don’t regret this decision.”

As well as being an experienced renovator, Maree is also a successful businesswoman – and she took on the project of furnishing the home like a professional project, with formidable organisation and decisiveness.

“It was quite fun – I dropped everything I was doing, workwise, and on the day we went unconditional on the house, I bought all the furniture because I knew it would take weeks to get stuff. We moved in with literally nothing because I sold or got rid of all my furniture, and then all the new furniture came within a couple of weeks.”

Though they started with a blank slate only months ago, the house feels complete and cohesive. “I love interiors, and being in a nice space is very comforting to me and something that I enjoy,” says Maree.

There’s no need to spend weekends renovating anymore, but this love of interiors means Maree is sure to find something else to occupy her. “I always need a project,” she says.

The backyard isn’t huge, but acres of decking means there’s plenty of outdoor space to hang out or entertain in. “It’s just a very low-maintenance house, whereas with our last house, all our weekends were consumed with hedging and mowing lawns,” says Maree.

Tips for making a home work for you

  1. Don’t be afraid to make changes: “We really adjusted the house to suit our family needs and how we wanted to live with two older children,” says Maree.
  2. Make alterations tailored to your needs: “We utilised custom furniture to make spaces work better for us, we put in some highly functional custom wardrobes so there was sufficient storage, we also put in built-in desks and storage in the office – it is a fairly small space but four people could work comfortably from there.”
  3. Create personal spaces: “I adore my ‘pamper’ station, which means I can get ready in the morning without crossing paths with Brad in the bathroom.
  4. Give the kids space to hang: “I am also pleased that we enclosed the lounge which was an open landing area so the kids can have their own private wing to the house and can hang there with their friends.”
  5. But still bring everyone together: “We extended the kitchen so now we have a fully functioning family kitchen, which is great for entertaining and has lots of storage.”

Text Shelley Tustin  Photography Helen Bankers

Read this next: This Wellington villa balances heritage with modern elements

View more images of this black house below

Text: Shelley Tustin

Photography: Helen Bankers

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