A hankering to live at the heart of city life led an Auckland couple to buy a 1940s house in Orakei and give it a top-to-toe update
Who lives here?
Jenni Shields (lady of leisure), and Wayne Shields (manager), plus their dog, Lillyjack.
Time for a change
Having sold their Titirangi home in Auckland’s Waitakere Ranges, and unsure where they wanted to buy next, Jenni and Wayne Shields took up residence in a Parnell motel to see how they enjoyed life amid the hustle and bustle of Central Auckland. The couple quickly established that they liked the location and began their search for a new abode.
Jenni spotted an advert for a three-bedroom 1940s house on iconic Paritai Drive, Orakei (once dubbed Millionaires’ Row), but she struggled to convince Wayne to view it. “I showed him a photo and asked him if he’d consider buying it and doing it up. His answer was: no,” recalls Jenni. She eventually talked him into doing a drive-by, and then an open home, where Wayne conceded that he could see the home’s potential. Drawn to its views over the Orakei Basin as well as its indoor-outdoor flow, the couple bought the house and moved in within the week.
The original home
When Jenni and Wayne purchased their two-level Orakei house six years ago, every wall was beige, the carpets were threadbare, and the kitchen and bathroom were well overdue for an update. Although Wayne was reluctant at first, the couple moved in and immediately embarked on their renovation journey.
This was a case of out with the old and in with the new. The Formica benches were replaced with practical stainless-steel worktops. To keep the budget in check, the couple opted to keep the cupboard carcasses and add new, glossy white doors and drawer fronts and sleek chrome handles. “I love white. It looks clean and fresh and lifts and brightens a room,” says Jenni.
Art and finishes
Jenni and Wayne have enjoyed a few holidays in Bali, where they have collected many of their artworks. “Our artworks chop and change around the house, depending on my mood,” Jenni says. A large canvas takes centre stage in the home’s entrance, its bold hues giving visitors a taste of what lies beyond.
Against an all-white backdrop, Jenni has introduced pops of colour throughout the home via soft furnishings, art and furniture. “I’d coveted a Miss Lolo ‘Peacock Chair’ for a long time,” Jenni says, indicating a gorgeous armchair upholstered in peacock fabric with a sky-blue base in the corner of the living room. “The cushions from ThreadLab complement the grey three-seater sofa from Nood and I love my big silver pouf – it’s perfect for putting your feet up at the end of the day.”
The stained and worn carpets on the lower ground floor were removed and replaced. On the ground floor, the couple chose not to sand or re-polish the original rimu floorboards as they loved their weathered character and charm. “Some may think they could do with a sand and a polish, but we love that they have personality,” Jenni says. “Besides, we’re not big on removing our shoes at the door.”
The laundry was originally housed behind bifold doors on the lower ground floor, but with storage in short supply, Jenni and Wayne decided to relocate it to the garage, allowing the space to be transformed into a large cupboard. Vibrant blue sliding doors from Wardrobe Works were a deliberate choice by Jenni to inject colour and personality into the space. “It’s quite dark when you enter the house from the internal garage into the foyer, so we had the bright-blue sliding doors custom-made to brighten the space. I also placed a tropical fish tank with a blue backing against the opposite wall, and used a geometric rug on the floor, to tie it all together,” Jenni says.
The couple’s biggest project was the main bathroom. Unfortunately, once all the old walls had come down, it became apparent that not a single wall was straight. Also, after removing the shower they discovered significant water damage to the floor and joists beneath. Once all the problems had been remedied and the walls lined, the couple chose large marble-effect tiles for the walls and floor. A freestanding bath with a floor-mounted mixer, a custom vanity, chandelier, magnifying mirror and a hand dryer completed their design. For the neighbouring guest toilet, Wayne chose a gorgeous wallpaper featuring New York skyscrapers (from Resene’s Walltrends III collection).
Paint and paper
Disliking the beige walls, Jenni chose to paint every wall and ceiling in Resene ‘Black White’, instantly modernising the spaces. In the dining nook, Jenni hung the retro-inspired ‘Projection’ wallpaper (from the Perspectives collection by Camengo) on two of the walls to define the area within the open-plan layout.
Deciding on a wallpaper for the two wallswas an absolute nightmare
“Deciding on a wallpaper for the two walls was an absolute nightmare – it was so hard to imagine the sample on the wall,” she says. “I changed my mind so many times and in the end I took a stab in the dark and went for something completely different to what I’d imagined.” Jenni has completed the mid-century look with a replica Tulip table and chairs from Nood.
Exterior house colours
One of the first projects tackled by the Shields was the removal of the mixed slate tiles in the front courtyard and entry way. “It took Wayne and our son Luke several days of hard labour to remove the slate, and that was only part of the job as they also needed to prepare the ground for plastering,” remembers Jenni. The couple also decided to change the mint-painted exterior, updating the look to a soft grey (Dulux ‘Clear Concrete’).
Words by: Annick Larkin. Photography by: Emma MacDonald.