Total Colour Award winners

Higgins House


It’s optimistic and an embrace of bold colour, Kiwiana and the glory of fun, sun and paua shells.


A first project as the ‘apprentice’ under Pip Cheshire was to help document and design a refurbishment of a 1960s Builders Special in ‘Beverly Hills Glendowie’, home of many Consulates and Kiwi success stories of the day.

21 years later came an invitation to return to refurbish an aging kitchen, laundry and bathrooms, but also to leave intact what was a period of bold New Zealand Architecture. The land of Post Modern Architecture has had its fair share of sniggers and cheap shots, and some refer to the style as brash and opulent. It’s optimistic and an embrace of bold colour, Kiwiana and the glory of fun, sun and paua shells.


Recalling an interview, and Pip Cheshire’s take on this exploration, the style was described as “polymodern”, a Kiwi interpretation of the work of Architects such as the American Architects Michael Graves, Charles Moore, and specifically Stanley Tigerman and the Post Modernist Memphis style. This interpretation was also embraced by New Zealand Architects of the time as a response ‘from the edge’ and celebrated as such. Retained are the colours and finish of the bold and beautiful distressed walls and aluminium ‘bridge to nowhere’, but the tired linoleum floor tiles were upgraded, replacing them with a prefinished engineered oak overlay.

There is nothing shy about this colour palette with Resene Fire Bush on cabinetry, Resene Boogie Wonderland in the bathroom, Resene Downy in the guest bedroom, Resene Pine Cone in the study, Resene Crab Apple, Resene El Salva and Resene Brandy Rose in the dining room and column feature and Resene Tory Blue, Resene Chetwode Blue, Resene Sea Green in the master bedroom.

Kitchen and Dining Areas

A further introduction of clear finished Keruing 19mm plywood has softened the palette, although the use of four strong mosaic, swan lake and floral patterned wallpapers have been used to communicate at the ‘right volume and hue’. The use of cabinet hardware with a nautical theme also reflects the sub themes to the original interior.

Orange glass blocks (in true 80s parlance) replace original white glass blocks in the ensuite (to add noise to the space), and blue backlit glass adds funk to the kitchen. The fireplace in the lower media room is finished with black polished Ambitec plaster and with a stunning fuchsia Sallee carpet, which sets off the mandarin alcantarine Togo Ligne Roset couch designed by Michel Ducaroy in 1973.

This house is a collection of interesting objects and artworks that are moderate in cost but high on life and memory. The spaces and original ‘aluminium bridge to nowhere’ reflects the client’s sense of fun, passion and energy. Every room in this house is another story.

Bedroom and study

Architectural Specifier: Malcolm Taylor, Xsite Architects
Building Contractor: Complete Construction Ltd
Painting Contractor: North-South Painters & Decorators
Photographer: Simon Devitt
Project: Resene Total Colour Awards 2012

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