An Auckland restored villa has blossomed over the past three years and is now the merriest of places to be for the Goddard family.
For Josh and Fiona Goddard, Christmas this year will be their most exciting yet. For the first time, they get to celebrate as a family of four, including adorable toddler Billie and new arrival Ruben. Covid restrictions will decide whether they get to spend it as they usually do – with family in Whakatāne, Taupō and Ohakune – or at their home in Birkenhead, Auckland, but whatever the case, the run-sheet of the day will be the same as it always is: lots of good food and relaxing. Well, hopefully.
“It’s always good to see Josh relax on Christmas Day and that holiday stretch. His business is usually so busy that those few weeks over Christmas are the only ones he gets. But if we stay in Auckland this year, chances are we’ll end up getting stuck into jobs around the house as it’s a never-ending to-do list with villas,” says Fiona.
She is looking forward to creating a few new traditions with her children this year. “We always have Secret Santa as a family, but this year we will start some of our own traditions with Billie and Ruben. I love hanging knitted striped stockings on the mantel and am so looking forward to having four hanging up this year with our newest member Ruben having his first Christmas.”
To bring the festive spirit into the lounge of their large villa, the Christmas tree will be decked in decorations she’s sourced over the years from Farmers, Citta, Bed Bath N’ Table, as well as various florals she’s dried herself. A Tibetan lambswool rug at the base of the tree both looks good as a finishing touch and hides the tell-tale feet of the faux tree.
“Usually I buy a real Christmas tree but we have a high stud in our home so last year I decided to invest in a big faux tree. I thought it would be worthwhile to get one and I’m glad I did – it looks amazing in our lounge. I don’t have a theme when it comes to decorating – I just buy and decorate with what I love,” she says.
The renovation journey
This will be the Goddard’s third Christmas in the home. Through hard slog and many, many weekend hours, the 1910 four-bedroom, two-bathroom house has slowly but surely transformed over the past three years.
When the couple first looked at the house it wasn’t the pretty picture it is today.
“The last time it probably had a paint job was 30 years ago. There were gaudy curtains, old carpet and dark green walls inside. The garden was very well established but overgrown. But we fell in love with the character. I remember walking into the home and looking up to the ceiling in the main bedroom – the Victorian details quite literally took my breath away. It was in that instant I fell in love,” Fiona recalls.
It had been a long road for the couple to get to this point. They’d spent two years actively looking for a house, going to open homes and putting lots of offers on houses but were unsuccessful. When they spied this villa, they immediately saw the potential and were up to the challenge of renovating, thanks to Josh being a qualified builder.
“There was so much to love about this house. The details throughout are beautiful and unique, and true to the villa style. The hallway is almost like a room itself – it’s so wide and has the lovely arch. I love the colours of all the stained glass and we have always loved how much light our home gets – it has a real bright and airy feel about it,” she says.
The good bones were there – they just needed some manipulation. Thankfully, the layout worked so they didn’t need to embark on any structural construction. Since moving in, the couple have renovated all four bedrooms and the ensuite, they’ve added a new roof and painted the exterior, given a fresh lick of paint to the hallway, kitchen and dining room, and most recently tackled the laundry, which was a lockdown project. They say one of their best decisions was having the floorboards redone when they bought the house – getting rid of the gaps between the original heart matai floorboards made the house a lot warmer, healthier and friendlier to crawling babies.
The kids’ rooms
Billie was only six months old when the Goddards moved in so they prioritised her room and gave it a makeover before anything else.
“I knew I wanted her to have a pink room so we painted her walls Dulux Punuromia Quarter, which is just the perfect shade of pale pink. Billie’s room is always changing as she grows – she really loves her little space.”
Instead of a piece of art above the bed, Fiona had a dried floral wreath made that adds both texture and interest to the room, making it a real feature of the space. Mismatched bedding in pastel tones, bookshelves custom-made by Josh, and a retro set of drawers the couple painted all give the room a loved, cosy feel.
Ruben’s room has also received some love and attention, and the result is a serene space perfect for a baby boy.
“It’s the smallest room in the house so I wanted to brighten it up with crisp white walls and soften it with a soft grey loop pile carpet. With Ruben’s bedroom I have been really drawn to sage green so I have a few accents of the colour splashed around.”
The main bedroom
Fiona was clear on what she wanted to be the hero in the main bedroom: the original ceiling.
“It’s just so beautiful and I wanted it to be the main feature in here. But it needed lots of restoring so we spent many late nights sanding and filling before painting. The whole room needed a lot of work. Josh fixed up all the window framing and replaced one as the borer was really bad. We gutted the wardrobes, put new shelving in there and added new doors and hardware, which made a huge difference to the room,” she says.
Josh built the ledge behind the bed, which adds another dimension of interest and a place to place art or picture frames. Fiona went light and tonal with the bedding and rug to make it feel like a calming and relaxing room for rest.
The main bathroom is still in its original state and awaiting attention – “it’s not tasteful at all” – but the ensuite has had a makeover and now it’s one of Fiona’s favourite rooms in the house.
“It’s my own little haven. Josh and Billie use the main bathroom so you won’t ever find toothpaste smeared in the basin or kids’ stools cluttering the ensuite. It’s such a serene place to shower, blowdry my hair, apply skincare and take some time out for myself.” Like the main bedroom, a ledge along the wall adds a point of difference as well as adding practical storage space.
“From a design perspective it took me a long time to find my groove with interior choices that complemented the character of the home. Almost everything we owned prior to moving in looked awful and it made it really hard for me to have a vision in the beginning. Once we realised we needed to start again with new furniture, it made it easier to see where I was heading. Eventually, it all came together,” Fiona says.
The couple prefer to buy quality for longevity, going for classic timeless pieces that they’ll have for years to come. This includes the Philippe Malouin ‘Offset’ coffee table, was a dream piece for Fiona for years before she finally bit the bullet and purchased recently.
The home has a decent-sized section – not that you could tell when it was for sale.
“It was really overgrown and crowded with hedging and random trees,” Fiona explains. “We have stripped it back a lot – removing trees and ripping out old hedging and rose bushes – and now we’ve cleared it so there’s a good-sized lawn, which is nice for the kids. The bamboo hedge at the back gives amazing privacy but it’s such an eyesore and is a beast to maintain.”
The couple have their sights set on a big extension out the back of the house, landscaping, and a new driveway and garage underneath with internal access. But these plans are being pushed out due to Covid.
“For now, we get indoor-outdoor flow by flinging open the French doors that lead from the dining room onto the deck. We love to have these open every day in summer,” says Fiona.
After a massive year of family, running a busy business and renovating a villa on weekends and late nights, the Goddard family are looking forward to enjoying their first Christmas a family of four and a few weeks of downtime. They’re happy to put down the tools for a well-deserved rest, right after they attack some landscaping and plan for their future kitchen makeover.
Words by: Debbie Harrison. Photography by: Helen Bankers. Styling by: Catherine Wilkinson