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decked out

From Habitat magazine - issue 07

With the addition of a roomy living room/kitchen opening out onto a large deck and back garden, this small transitional 1920s villa has been transformed into a spacious and very functional home for Kylie Dysart and Andrew Lamb, and their two small daughters.

Kylie and Andrew are only the second owners of the Auckland home, which is located in a leafy cul-de-sac amongst a cluster of tastefully renovated early villas. When they bought the house six years ago, it came with some cosmetic updates from the 1970s, but was mainly original.

Deck and garden
Look after your wooden deck - stain with Resene Kwila Timber Stain or Resene Furniture and Decking Oil to enhance its natural good looks. Decking: Kwila. Table runner, wine glasses, napkins, bowls: Nest. Cushions, vase: Madder & Rouge.

“We instantly fell in love with the large section (867m2) and saw its potential. The only things in the garden were a few scraggly trees, the central plum tree and some old garden sheds, including one which housed the outside laundry,” the couple explains. “When we moved in we immediately improved the master bedroom by re-decorating and adding an ensuite, and then patiently lived in the house for three years before beginning work with Auckland architect Tony Gracie on the major refurbishment.”

Together, they decided to turn the old kitchen/dining area in the existing three-bedroom home into a fourth bedroom with a new bathroom and laundry, while adding a large extension at the back of the house for the living room and kitchen combined. They also wanted that very-much-sought-after indoor/outdoor flow. This was achieved with stacking doors, reaching nearly to ceiling height and about 7.5 metres in width. These open out completely to the deck, which then has two steps up to a wide expanse of lawn.

Outdoor dining set
Outdoor plants
Beaded child’s toy: Cranfields. Ceramic bowl, wooden bowl and cutlery: Stylist’s own. Hurricane lantern, bird bath: Maytime Marketing.

Rather than a traditional lean-to, Tony reversed the slope of the roof to maximise natural light and give a sense of open living. With the doors stacked back completely, the combined space of the living room/kitchen with the alfresco area of the deck and back lawn makes a fantastic area for entertaining. This was demonstrated recently, with a stress-free child’s birthday party held in the space, with 30 small guests and a huge bouncy castle.

The result has been a total success. Evie (four) and two year- old Sara can play happily outside in the sandpit on the kwila deck or on the swing in the old plum tree in the centre of the lawn, while Kylie works inside.

“For me, it means peace of mind. I can prepare dinner and watch the girls at the same time. It really works well.”

Deck and garden
Get the exterior look with Resene Sonyx 101 tinted to Resene Napa complemented by Resene Lustacryl tinted to Resene Blanc on windowsills.

“The function of this new area is outstanding for a family with small children,” says Tony. “It’s so well used, it almost makes the rest of the house redundant.”

It also answers the previously problematic issue posed by the home’s east/west orientation.

“Instead of a small house with small windows getting very little sun, the extension has opened it up completely to the west-facing garden. And the deck was made larger than normal in order to capture more of the sun from the north in the middle part of the day,” Tony explains.

Outdoor garden and play place

He believes the new living room/kitchen melds well with the old part of the house, while the entire extension, with the deck as a transition through to the soft landscaping at the back of the garden, works seamlessly.

The deck design, along with other hard landscaping for the back garden was carried out by landscaping company Boffa Miskell. The deck is about 12m long and 4.2m deep, and is unusual in that it ascends to the grass. It also has planter boxes made from macrocarpa along each side, with one used as a vegetable garden.

In the interests of maximising the usable yard area, the garden was levelled. This meant that retaining walls were required around two edges, which are now hidden by hedging. Kylie and Andrew had to cart in loads of top-soil to flatten the area and prepare it for ready lawn. The lovely old plum tree is a natural focal point and often used to shade outdoor activities and family parties. The shell path at the rear of the garden also doubles as a petanque court.

The pair are still in the planning stages planting-wise, but it’s likely they’ll use predominantly natives. Two black ferns at the back of the section are particularly special to the family – they were gifts to mark the births of each of their daughters. And rather than having wooden fencing on all three sides, they wanted to soften the edges. They planted Griselinia hedging down one boundary and along the rear fence, so the lawn resembles a large enclosed courtyard.

The paints for the exterior of the house were chosen to complement the new outdoor room. The couple chose Resene Napa with Resene Blanc on the windowsills. Other accents include Resene Tea, Resene Joanna and Resene Periglacial Blue. The result is a transitional villa that retains many of its old-world charms, but for Kylie and Andrew it is perfect for 21st century living.

Alternative solution

create a tropical feel, complete with pool

Campbell Strachan, from Leader Contracting has devised this alternative design:

Alternative solution 1

The existing strong lines of the garden have been translated into a new scheme divided into three diverse, but connected areas. The planting selection includes purple Phormium tenax purpureum flax by the pool, bungalow palms (Archontophoenix cunninghamiana), potted cycads in the pool area, and Silver Spear (Astelia chathamica) on the pool/lawn fence. This combination creates a wet, warm feel, reminiscent of the tropics. The pool and spa are located to receive maximum year-round sun, while not affecting the use of the deck, barbecue area and lawn.

phone: 021 557 658   email:

Accessories: Coloured concrete pots, from Pots N Planters. Astelia chathamica, Cycad revolta, Griselinia lucida, Phormium tenax purpureum, Ophiopogon japonicus, from Kings Plant Barn.

Alternative solution

with the addition of the fireplace, the garden becomes an outdoor room

Diana Feenstra, from Living Space has developed this alternative landscaping scheme:

Alternative solution 2

The beautiful fruit tree in the centre of the garden becomes a focal point, with the addition of three sandstone balls at its base. Uplighting the tree will also make it a feature at night. The round theme is carried through to three buxus balls in a planter.

The existing magnolias have been clipped and more have been added around the outdoor fireplace, in front of which is a floating paved area. Relocating and freshening up the entertainment area gives the garden a more modern feel, which is accented by architectural subtropical planting, including striking red Daylilies and textured Phoenix roebelinii. Background planting behind the tree adds a variety of textures, shapes and colours.

phone: 09 418 5553   mobile: 021 255 6044   email:

Accessories: Haddonstone from Jagas’Platinum Series paving, from Jagas Paving. Phoenix roebelinii, Magnolia, Hemerocallis ‘Apple Annie’, Buxus sempervirens, from Kings Plant Barn. Fireplace, from Living Flame.

words: Robyn Yousef
pictures: Kallan MacLeod
stylist: Lianne Whorwood
illustration: Bruce Bryant

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