Standing at the front door, this 510m2 house appears like any other bungalow you might see on a tree-lined street in Remuera, but some surprises lurk beyond the original 1930s façade.
The back half of the house – which takes in amazing views of the Orakei Basin below and Rangitoto in the distance – is a steel and glass addition designed by architect John Irving. The rest of the house was also renovated, and the two are linked by a glazed section with a bridge connecting the upper levels.
“I was interested in the idea of breaking the house into two parts,” says Irving. “The white weatherboard front section is a heritage zone, paying dues to the street style of the area, then out the back is all this black steel joinery, with a glass link between the two. I like to think of the house as a journey. On arrival, it all looks pretty normal, then you look down the hallway to the pool and you see all the glass overhead, and there is this great element of surprise.”
A shuttered concrete wall also binds the old and new wings of the house, and this material makes up the back wall of the living room fireplace and an outside wall, which encloses part of the swimming pool. In this way, the indoor living spaces are visually connected with the outdoor area, which features timber decking of a similar shade to the concrete.
The back wall of the kitchen is tiled in marble mosaic in coffee tones. A strip of low windows provides a break in this dark wall by allowing a view through to greenery beyond, while ensuring the privacy of the open-plan living and kitchen space.
Open shelving on this wall gives space for display of some interesting objects and art, such as a series of white embossed ceramic vessels by Susannah Bridges, and a tui print titled Parson by Margaret Petchell. A large crema-topped Coco pendant from Cult Design hangs above the kitchen island.
The kitchen and living room furniture is chosen to match the tones of the tiled wall. Dark brown leather chairs are balanced by a white Diesel lamp and cream coloured rug in the living area. The kitchen table was custom made by Mckean Carnell, while the chairs were sourced from Backhouse.
The homeowners’ daughters have their bedroom downstairs in the renovated wing of the house. Beyond these rooms, a glazed galley leads downstairs to the garage, which is a new build that was designed to match the weatherboard façade of the existing house. This galley has been landscaped on both sides with native planting, providing privacy from the neighbours and a calming, green experience before entering the house from the garage.
A sound-proofed media room is housed in the space between the entrance hall and the daughters’ bedroom wing. This can be used as a thoroughfare between the two hallways when the room is not in use.
“This is really a big house, but as it has a lot of living areas it doesn’t feel too big,” says Irving. “It is broken up into three separate buildings, including the garage, so this keeps it reasonably humble in its scale.”
Up the floating American oak stairs and across the glass bridge, the master bedroom is like a private haven sitting above the family areas of the house. Seated under the peaked roof of the addition, uninterrupted views across the Orakei Basin and beyond can be enjoyed from the homeowners’ Ro chair and footstool, which takes pride of place near the windows.
Despite being close to the city, this house is almost like a secret garden, with nothing but an orchestra of cicadas to accompany the peaceful outlook across the water.