Written by John Williams
But it wasn’t always like this. Four years ago, when Lorraine and Roger Hammond first moved in, it was a hotchpotch of a house, having been bluntly added to and extended to the point where it comprised two bedrooms along one side of the structure with a knocked-out living space on the other, and a lean-to out the back containing the kitchen and the only bathroom. Out the back, was an over-run garden with a detached sleepout.
So, why this house, and why this part of town?
“We really like the area,” says, Roger “We’d been living over the hill in Ponsonby for well over 10 years, but were attracted to the quirky nature of Arch Hill; of what Ponsonby was probably like prior to the housing boom. It’s still a very mixed area, and it’s also a great area for walking to Ponsonby Road, K Rd, and Eden Park. You can do it all from here,” he adds.
“We were living in a little old cottage, but that went down three levels from the street, so we wanted somewhere that was all on one level,” says Lorraine. “We also wanted sun, so a northern orientation was crucial, and this house really worked for us.”
Clearly the couple saw the potential in the existing cottage, but it needed a lot of work to bring it up to date. And that’s when they brought in Richard Furze, an architectural designer with whom they’d worked with in the past
“Our brief to Richard was that we wanted him to be very clever and extract as much space as he could from a small footprint, without making it feel pokey, and I think he’s really achieved that,” says Lorraine.
“We also wanted a third bedroom and a second bathroom, and a study,” adds Roger.
The designer’s solution involved the removal and rebuilding of most of the original cottage, apart from the façade and a couple of walls. This gave Lorraine and Roger virtually a new home, not only in terms of looks and functionality, but also in the things you don’t see, like insulation, double-glazed windows, smart wiring, and an in-ceiling audio system.
Lorraine says they were very conscious of the home’s provenance, and therefore wanted to reference its age and its history wherever they could. “We repurposed the bricks from the chimney and built a wall in the back yard,” she says. “Sadly we couldn’t keep the floorboards because they were so badly patched,” In their place, an engineered wooden-look floor with a lime-wash finish was laid, which lifts the new interior, giving it a more contemporary feel.
“When we were stripping back the walls in the front bedroom, we found a layer of original wallpaper, and one of the newspaper cuttings underneath it was dated 1884. We kept it and made into a piece of art that’s now hanging in the old sleepout.”
The front half of the house is certainly the more traditional, in terms of layout, with two bedrooms and a shared bathroom spurring off the central hallway, as well as a large walk-in storage cupboard that contains a custom-built ladder leading to more storage in the loft above. Roger’s study is also in this part of the house, but that remains out in the open, to the left of the front door, as you walk in.
Although this space is currently configured as a home office, it could be adapted for a multitude of uses, including a temporary bedroom, or secondary lounge area. “We did think we could even B&B the front two bedrooms and bathroom, and have it as a little sitting area with a TV, for guests,” says Roger.
To help them with the interior design, Lorraine and Roger brought on board their daughter, Amie Hammond, who runs an interior design studio called Billie Kinsey. “We like her sense of style,” says, Lorraine. “She knows what we like, and we know what she likes, so it all worked out well.”
“I wanted to come home to no mess and no clutter, and I wanted pared-back colour scheme with minimal detailing.”
Lorraine’s brief to her daughter was for a clean, calm interior. “I teach 5-year-olds with 60-year-olds together in an innovation learning space, so my life is very hectic, very noisy and very messy, so I wanted calm” she explains.
As well as the colour palette, Amie also commissioned the pendant lights in the master bedroom and the hallway to be handmade by Monmouth Glass whose studio is located just around the corner. “It was great, because I went along and watched the glass being blown,” says, Roger.
Amie designed the built-in bunk beds in the middle bedroom, too. “The grand-kids love them,” says, Lorraine. “It’s always an adventure when they come and stay. They’ve got their own cupboards, and they crawl in and out and under their bunks.”
Lorraine goes onto say that she thinks the house would suit a young family, or someone like them, who like to have their grand-kids coming to stay – and the parents can stay, too, in the bedroom next door
The layout of the open-plan living area, with its minimalist kitchen and adjoining scullery, has a very modern feel to it – more like a contemporary townhouse than an old cottage – only with a soaring three-metre-plus cathedral ceiling. “The idea was to get a bit of volume into the room,” says, Roger. “So Richard came up with the idea of a peaked ceiling that emphasises the external roofline. He also lined it in tongue-and-groove, painted white, which was a nod to the old cottage.”
The designer continued his signature roofline, out to the exterior, over the deck, forming an outdoor room; the focal point of which, is a large, custom-designed, wood-burning open fire that’s not only great for the winter, but also for those cooler, the end-of-summer evenings, says Lorraine.
A large, concrete-topped leaner shields the outdoor area from the neighbour on the lower side of the house, and also provides the perfect spot to sit down with a beer, or a glass of wine, and watch the sun disappear behind the Waitakares.
Beyond the outdoor room is a lovely, private little garden, cleverly designed by Renee Davies, the Head of Department of the Landscape Architecture Department at Unitec Institute of Technology. The plantings are an eclectic mix of topiary and ferns, with some wild flowers thrown in, all revolving around an existing mature cherry blossom tree. For extra visual interest, there’s a water feature, and there’s even a sandpit for the grandkids, hidden under one section of the deck.
Finally, we come to the only original room remaining from the old cottage days – the sleepout… or summer house, or studio, or home office, or teenage hangout.
“There is a story that 12 Tongans used to live in this cottage,” recalls, Lorraine. “I met one of them one day when he was walking past with his mates going to Eden Park. He said it used to be his grandma’s house and that he’d love to have talked to longer, but he was in a hurry to get to the game. As he walked off, he said, ‘have you still got the shed out the back?’ I told him, yes,” she laughs. “I’d have loved to have heard some of his shed stories.”
Unfortunately, Lorraine probably won’t get to hear those stories, as she and Roger are downsizing. Lorraine is looking to retire, and the decision has been made to move back over the hill to Grey Lynn, where they already own another small cottage. Is there another renovation on the cards?
Click here to view the property listing or call Robyn Ellson on 021800891 for a viewing time.