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lean on Me


Continuing the tradition of refurbishment of Auckland’s heritage housing stock, this project is a re-interpretation of the ‘lean-to’ form.

Traditionally used as service spaces, the ‘lean-to’ here is re-cast as living space, opening the house up to the north facing back yard.

Modern home exterior

The existing house, while in a relatively tidy state, was poorly connected to its environment. The original veranda had been closed in, shutting out views over the neighbourhood and to the Waitakere ranges beyond. Lean-to additions at the rear contained a galley kitchen and a narrow dining space, with a single door giving outside access. In addition, extensive additions to the eastern and western neighbours’ dwellings exposed some privacy concerns.

Home deck and patio

Stained deck

The programme was to accommodate a professional couple with two young children, allowing for home-work options as well as providing an oasis and retreat for the family. The design approach was to provide a separate and contrasting form, to highlight new versus old and create a dialogue between contemporary and traditional within the building. The existing building’s floor plan was rationalised, improving room sizes, adding bedrooms and an extensive home office, improving amenities, and reviving the kauri flooring and traditional details. The verandah’s original form was re-instated, re-connecting with the street.

Home garden and deck

A modern home's indoor and outdoor flow

Out the back, the existing lean-to’s have been replaced with a lower-roofed link, housing laundry and scullery spaces, connecting the old house to a modern living arrangement. Here, the traditional lean-to roof form wraps in on itself, forming an inverted hip roof with a simple box to the exterior. The new ceiling is battened in a nod to the traditional villa’s ceiling and these create planes that float over an open-plan kitchen, dining, living space and covered terrace. High level windows provide light and ventilation with no compromise to privacy.

Green home exterior

Modern home exterior at sunset

Dark green home deck

Externally, colours and materials were chosen to continue the dialogue between traditional & contemporary.

The dark Resene Siam used on the wide weather-boarded cladding with trims in Resene Double Sea Fog, all painted in Resene Lumbersider low sheen waterborne paint, is a simplified version of a traditional Victorian colour scheme. The Resene Gravel of the front steps anchor the iconic bay villa façade to the rock of the landscape walls and ground narrow profiled.

A modern kitchen

Neutral kitchen and dining area

In contrast, the narrow-profiled band-sawn weatherboards on the new addition are Resene Woodsman Whitewash.

The garden design and landscape connections are an integral part of the project and this softened white box addition provides a neutral backdrop to the profusion of colours of the eclectic plantings, picnic and play areas of the north facing gardens.

Dining room and deck

Modern home office

The interior colour scheme for the house takes its cues from the exterior treatments and the desire to continue the theme of a dialogue between old and new throughout the building. A contemporary version of tongue and grooved detailing, whitewashed like the exterior cladding and coupled with dark stone tops, was applied to all of the cabinetry in the house providing a commonality through the living spaces and service areas. The kauri floorboards of the original villa are contrasted with dark neutrals of carpet, tiling and exposed concrete in the refurbished and new areas.

Dark green and white bathroom

Light and elegant bathroom

The general colour scheme is very neutral with walls and ceilings general painted in versions of Resene Merino using Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen and Resene Zylone Sheen which tones well with the Resene Colorwood Whitewash finished larch of the cabinetry and provides the perfect backdrop for the clients’ art collection. Trims are finished in Resene Lustacryl semi-gloss waterborne enamel in Resene Merino.

A neutral lounge

The ceilings in the house provided a different opportunity and Resene SpaceCote Flat in Resene Half Merino is applied to the battened ceilings of the villa and the angled planes of the new addition. In the bathrooms, the ceiling planes are highlighted with Resene Cabbage Pont and coupled with Grace Emerald accent tiles in yet another re-interpretation of a Victorian colour scheme.

This project’s exterior won a Resene Total Colour Residential Exterior Colour Maestro Award. The judges said "snuggling into its site from the streetscape into the landscape, the clever pairing of hues seamlessly handle the transition from street to private space and from traditional to modern. The light filled private space is an unexpected delight which blends beautifully with the garden for a quick escape from city to social."

Architectural specifier: Strachan Group Architects
Building contractor: Heartwood Builders
Painting contractor: TD Nguyen Painting
Photographer: Simon Devitt
Winner: Resene Total Colour Residential Exterior Colour Maestro Award
Project: Resene Total Colour Awards 2020

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