Once a derelict Cape Cod-style house in need of a makeover, this Remuera home is now a testament to the talented couple who designed and built it
This Remuera home is a showcase for the talented couple who designed and built it
Adam and Alice Sharp were still dating when Adam spied a “For Sale” sign on what is now the top half of the site of their modern concrete three-story family home in Remuera, Auckland. On the land at the time was a derelict Cape Cod-style house in desperate need of a makeover. “We were literally ripping out ceilings and pulling down walls on the first weekend,” says Alice.
But when they stood in the living room and looked out of a small sash window at the view that stretches to North Head and Rangitoto, they knew it had enormous potential.
Realising the realm of possibility in a home is what this couple is all about. Adam is managing director of Sharp & Page, an 80-year-old family business that specialises in residential, commercial, and commercial hospitality interiors as well as Kitchen Living, a company focused on creating superior residential kitchens. Alice, meanwhile, is an interior designer with her own company, Linea Design.
Still, the refurbished Cape Cod house that had been so perfect for them became restrictive once they started their family and found they had too many open spaces that weren’t particularly child-friendly. Then the Sharps had the opportunity to buy the land behind their site and take it back to its full, original section. It allowed them to build their dream home from the ground up, one that would suit the full section and optimise the living space with swooping three-metre ceilings on two of the three levels and allow them to best capture the views and available light.
“When you live here like we did for 10 years you get to understand where the sun is in the afternoon and where people like to be. It’s pretty important,” explains Alice. The pair, along with some early input from architects, designed the entire house right down to the skirting boards, mouldings, front door and staircases. “We both love solid structures so we chose concrete and timber and there’s a fair bit of glass around,” she adds.
At the start of the build, which coincided with Alice’s third pregnancy, the family moved out. But because the somewhat tricky section needed pylons to retain it all the way around, it took three years before the couple could move back in with daughters Alannah (eight) and Zara (seven), and son Brook (five). It was well worth the wait.
Even in winterit’s an oasis
To maximise the elevated views at the back of the section – all the way from Remuera to Newmarket, Mt Eden and the Domain – and bring the outdoors in as much as possible, they used cantilevers and joinery. “Everything can open right up,” says Alice, explaining how fully retractable glass doors create an outdoor space on the ground level that is completely sheltered from wind. “Even in winter it’s an oasis.”
Once construction was complete, Alice went to work on the interiors. “Adam and I generally share the same taste, but we both have strong opinions when it comes to design and we tend to challenge each other until we get something special,” she says. Her love of art history as well as merging the classic with the modern to create contemporary yet timeless rooms is evident from the moment you enter the house via a front door that was made by Sharp & Page and which features a circle and square design. It’s a motif that is repeated from the structured Versailles-inspired hedge in the front garden to a panel on the kitchen ceiling and a custom Sensational Floors carpet in the upstairs lounge.
The Sharps’ careers keep them enviably abreast of the latest technological advances for bespoke touches like the custom rugs (there’s a second one in the entrance hall, also by Sensational Floors, with a personalised ‘S’ border inspired by the classic Greek key design). “I like the creative outlet of putting my own stamp on something. It adds that extra layer of interest,” says Alice.
A house is a home at the end of the dayand it needs to be able to be used
On the lower level, a sunny lounge that was initially envisioned as Adam and Brook’s refuge from the girls has become a favourite spot for the whole family. “I am a bit of a hoarder of textiles,” says Alice of the scatter cushions in a mix of fabrics. “Especially when they’re tactile.” She used a James Dunlop woven outdoor fabric on one of the custom-designed Sharp & Page sofas so the children don’t need to be too precious about it. “A house is a home at the end of the day and it needs to be able to be used,” she says. However, a second sofa upholstered in a swirling art deco-inspired gold velvet is definitely not sticky fingers-friendly.
Another interesting illusion of texture can be found on the Élitis wallpaper from the Pleats collection that hangs floor-to-ceiling on the stairwell wall joining the lower, middle and upper levels of the house. It resembles folded sheets of brown paper decorated with images of nature and birds.
Unsurprisingly in a home belonging to a master cabinetmaker, the cabinets are real talking points. In the upstairs and downstairs lounges, matching Sharp & Page cabinets feature a lustrous santos palisander veneer – a wonderful example of old workmanship in a modern context. “It’s a lovely, rich material that is not often used as it tends to be expensive,” explains Alice. “Sharp & Page laid it out at different angles to create a three-dimensional shape.” But it is the kitchen that is the real pièce de résistance. All appliances, except the oven and induction hob, are hidden in high lacquer white or dark brown cabinets.
“A key thing for a kitchen is having generous space between working surfaces. We’re future-proofing for teenagers to be able to share the space,” says Alice. Cool drawers inside the large Italian marble-topped central island hide sparkling water and beer, while others conceal platters and china that aren’t used every day. Electric candles provides mood lighting for Élitis foam wallpaper framed by Sharp & Page to create French-style panelling inspired by a de Rothschild villa they once visited in the South of France. “I love bringing elements that have influenced me from architecture and painting to life in a New Zealand context,” says Alice.
Glass panels separate the kitchen from the open-plan dining room, where an antique table that once belonged to Adam’s parents has been modernised with high gloss black lacquer and is offset by geometric matte black Matisse chairs.
A different kind of panel can be found above the bed in the master bedroom. Alice asked Sharp & Page to frame a piece of wallpaper by Nina Campbell and then mounted a pair of Porta Romana sconces that look like the branches of a tree. “Adam mostly goes along with it all,” she smiles. “I am pretty lucky to have someone who realises my design ideas.”
Words by: Nadine Rubin Nathan. Photography by: Helen Bankers.