Here is a home that blends so seamlessly into its tree-lined suburban surroundings it’s as if it has always been here. However, for homeowner Victoria Richardson this was a two-year project and a labour of love. It involved both compromise and non-negotiables and the end result is nothing short of triumphant
Several years ago Victoria, an interior designer, husband Craig and their three children, Will, 11, Charlotte, 9, and Reilly, 7, spent much of their spare time searching the seaside suburb of St Heliers, Auckland, for a home that would cope with the needs of their growing family. In October 2012, after months of looking, they came upon a site occupied by a rundown old bungalow. The owner had tried to sell it previously with no luck, so the couple approached him with an offer. “We loved the quiet street and the fact that it’s walking distance from the children’s school, the beach and the village,” says Victoria.
The bungalow was small, boxy and dark, set right in the middle of the large site. It hadn’t been renovated since its construction in the 1930s, which meant it was “horrendous” in terms of decor – “There was nothing redeeming about it at all,” says Victoria. Designing a home renovation to fit the style, size and orientation the couple wanted was going to be tricky, so demolishing the dwelling and starting afresh was the best option.
The couple employed architect and friend Andy Daly to design their new home. “I had a very clear idea of the style and house layout I wanted,” says Victoria. “Andy listened and incorporated all of my ideas. We went through a few designs during the process, which was time consuming and costly, but we now have a beautiful, liveable home that meets all our requirements.”
Despite this home being a new-build, Victoria’s vision saw the couple go to great lengths to ensure the overall exterior design and look of the house had the feel of a Californian bungalow. “It was important to us that the house looked like it had always been here and that it fitted the somewhat traditional feel of the street.”
Some of these iconic bungalow details include broad timber window frames, shingled gables and wide weatherboards with solid beams and posts. The planning process was extensive, with eight months spent conceptualising and designing with the architect and getting council consents. The build took a further 13 months, during which the family rented a house in nearby Glendowie.
The interior is classic and timeless, with a neutral grey palette paired with crisp white, deep navy and dark-stained hardwood floors. Dark, wide floorboards were non-negotiable for Victoria. “So many people tried to steer me away from them, but they are the glue that holds the whole interior scheme together.” She opted for black door hardware, simple, elegant lighting, classic architraves and skirting and a wide, traditional staircase to add to the American aesthetic.
“I chose all the interior and exterior colour schemes, but for the kitchen and scullery we opted to use a very experienced designer – Sue Gillbanks from Kitchens By Design,” says Victoria. “Kitchens are so important and a major cost in the whole building outlay, so I wanted it done properly first time.”
Victoria has ensured the children’s bedrooms will grow with them. Each room can fit twin or queen beds, meaning sleepovers are easily catered for. All three kids’ bedrooms have built-in bench seating, providing a cosy nook for reading. They also have storage cubby houses hidden under the eaves, which are perfect for storing books and toys while leaving them easily accessible.
Charlotte was adamant she didn’t want any pink in her room, so instead Victoria installed an aqua, navy and lime wallpaper on the four-metre-wide wall behind the bedhead. “I think she has ended up with a lovely feminine room without it being frilly or childish. The wallpaper has a vintage feel, so the room should stand the test of time,” says Victoria.
...feeling that instant calm from an uncluttered space.
Sports-mad Will chose a great scheme of red, grey and white. He has a travel theme running through the room with a New York City skyline decal and an ‘international clocks’ wallpaper on one wall. “He loves that the room is spacious enough to slam-dunk a basketball and juggle a football around,” says Victoria.
This timeless piece of architecture combines practical, liveable elements with Victoria’s classic interior design. The American aesthetic that she and architect Andy Daly have created makes this home feel relaxed, calm and inviting. “There is nothing better than coming home after a long day, with a gang of kids in tow, and feeling that instant calm from an uncluttered space”.
Words by: Annick Larkin. Photography by: Emma MacDonald.