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Return to elegance

While Justine never wanted to do a major renovation (or even a minor one to be honest), something about this 1929 family home caught her imagination. Beyond the very tired exterior, homemade sheds and an unconsented second storey addition, and an interior that needed a major overhaul of its 1960s kitchen and washroom and 1970s bathroom and bedrooms, the quality and artisanship of the original house shone through. Bringing back to life its exceptionally beautiful leadlight windows and etched glass doors, restoring its solid heart Rimu doors and floors, and making a feature of the original lights was a creative endeavour.

And Justine says it was a true joy every time they discovered the original luxury 1929 wallpaper or found a snuff box left in the walls by the builders. Built by an Italian craftsman who came to Wellington to work on the plaster ceilings in the old Parliament building, the house enjoys its own Carrara ceiling which is in wonderful condition, and heritage fruit trees (plum, apple and quince), grapevine and roses which date from around 1945. Architect John MacMillan and Justine worked hard to preserve the stunning original features while developing the house to be a light, warm and practical home to live in.

As a former career diplomat and an avid lover of travel, Justine wanted a generous home where she could display some of the wonderful things she’s collected or been gifted in her wanderings around the world, and a place to stay which was cosy, hospitable and welcoming for visitors.

The house design and colours took time (and not a small amount of anxiety as Justine made all the colour decisions herself, after lots of checking in with my very dear, long-suffering friends), but reflect perfectly on her life, who she is and sum up to be a place where she feels perfectly at home. Somehow the ‘return to elegance’ design theme (suggested by a friend) snowballed and before Justine knew it, she was installing pressed tin ceilings to really showcase the glamour of the 1929 hall lights. A gold velvet couch made an appearance following a very generous gift of a 1929 gilded Greek mirror by a friend’s Mum. And Justine’s 85 year old Dad found and restored a beautiful Rimu hall table for the house.

Justine’s previous 1902 house had a very relaxed, neutral vibe, so the degree of bling that somehow emerged through her design choices was initially a bit of a worry, but it all came together perfectly with a lovely restful and comfortable feel.

Her favourite new element of the house – a whole wall of wooden bookshelves – is a talking point for family and visitors alike – the perfect place to display family photos, silver and crockery and favourite books.

The interior palette is a combination of complex hues with Resene Dark Slate, Resene Half Inside Back, Resene Half Innocence, Resene Half Hermitage and neutrals Resene Double Sea Fog, Resene Double Alabaster and Resene Half Thorndon Cream. Resene Dark Slate is repeated on the kitchen splashback.

The exterior is finished in Resene Hit Grey, Resene Shark, Resene Grey Friars and Resene Double Alabaster. All painting was done by Jeremy of Jade.

The next stage is to start the landscaping, to celebrate the history and uniqueness of the garden and to set off this truly remarkable home.


Thanks to Justine.

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