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This former state house has had a stunning yet respectful renovation

A former Auckland state house has been given stylish new lease of life following a thoughtful renovation. See how this family achieved their modern makeover

Meet and greet

Katie Wilson, architecture graduate, Steve Evans, clinical director of paediatric surgery, Luca, 9, and Harley, 6.


  • 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.

What parts of the house are you most proud of?
The stairwell: it’s a clever little dark grey box projecting out of the south gable. It allowed us to stay within the height-to-boundary envelope while creating a light-filled central stairwell. The reclaimed matai treads and the strong and unusual balustrade make it a huge statement when you enter the house. Also the eyebrow window: the master bedroom corner window has an aluminium ‘eyebrow’ which frames the window continuously on one side and acts as a solar shade.

Renovation tips

+ 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.

Expert Q+A with Allan McKinstry – Project Manager, McKinstry Projects

What were some of the challenges you faced with this project?

  1. Because the original plans were slightly out with the height-to-boundary restrictions, we suggested Katie and Steve gauge their neighbours’ thoughts (and agreement in principle) at concept stage, before seeking resource consent. Katie made some slight alterations in response to one neighbour’s wishes but other than that the resource process was fairly straightforward.
  2. Historical (1930s) subsidence meant that parts of the original house were 80mm higher than the 2006 extension. We also wanted to retain the matai flooring. This meant that we had to re-level and re-pile, while protecting the original floor, by painstakingly hand-excavating under the house. We successfully levelled the floor, reducing the discrepancy to only about 20mm.
  3. Katie designed a balustrade that was a combination of old and new. It has a white-painted, recessed strip with LED lighting to highlight the recess. The handrail, however, has a traditional profile, as suggested by Joseph McKinstry. We had to make many mock-ups of how this recess and profile would neatly turn the corner at the landing. With good collaboration between Katie and the build team on site, we got a great result.


Total reno spend:

+ $720K (build $429K; fitout including new furniture $141K; pool, deck and rear landscaping $150K).

Fitout included:

+ Kitchen: Cabinetry, benchtop and splashback $36K, appliances $25K.
+ Dining: Carl Hansen Wishbone chairs $6500, Moooi Zio table $8K, Mattiazzi Osso stools $5200.
+ Lighting: Monmouth Glass Studio Dome pendants $3600, Lee Broom decanter pendants $1600.
+ Floor sanding (entire ground floor) and reclaimed matai for staircase $18K.
+ Three bathrooms: fixtures and fittings $18K, tiling $4K.
+ Carpet (upstairs bedrooms and hall) $6K.


+ Interior design

+ Builder

+ Landscape design and construction

+ Kitchen bathroom and ensuite tiles:

+ Carpet:

+ Ensuite floor:

Words by: Annick Larkin. Photography by: Jackie Meiring.

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