A 100-year-old home in Auckland gets a light, refreshing lift with a family feel
In a snap shot
Who lives here? Deborah Houching (podiatrist technician), James Houching (painter), Meg, 18, Imogen, 17, and Dillon, 13.
Where is it? Northcote, Auckland.
What did your home look like before? It was very cold, dark and dated, with a lot of closed-in spaces and little natural light.
What was your vision? Deborah: Because it was an older building, I imagined a home that held onto all of its character features but also had a fresh, modern look and feel.
What state was your house in?
Deborah: Pretty disgusting. It needed a lot of work. The walls and ceilings were rat-infested and the kitchen was very dated with iconic 1950s cupboards. We took out a dividing wall in the kitchen to make it feel larger and removed the old cupboards. I wanted a kitchen that was one big open space. The bathroom was redone, with the dated windows replaced with the French doors from the dining room.
We stayed in the house while the work was being carried out, which meant we had to move from room to room, sharing bedrooms and putting up temporary kitchens wherever we could. The builders turned up each day at 7.30am while we were trying to get the kids sorted and get ready ourselves – the morning rush was an absolute nightmare!
Was your renovation about more than just beautification?
Yes, all of the wiring and plumbing was redone as it was so old. All the plasterboard was pulled off the ceilings and walls and insulation was installed. The carpet was pulled up in various places to reveal beautiful wooden floorboards underneath – we sanded and re-stained these in dark walnut. All the windows stayed in place, although we did replace one door with a window (it was in the dining room and opened onto the neighbours’ driveway).
Any pleasant surprises?
Unveiling the double-sided fireplace. This is my favourite feature in the home. It has two separate chimneys. On one side is the lounge, on the other a dining area. You don’t see that very often. Previously, the fireplace was boxed in with a mantelpiece and panelling with fussy details. It stuck out so you had to walk around it.
Best makeover moment?
When the whole house was completed we could sit down and look around, knowing we had made the right choices and that it looked really good. It was a proud moment.
Worst makeover moment?
When James was in a hurry to move the huge fridge-freezer into the kitchen with no one else around to help him. He ended up scratching the newly stained floorboards. I was not happy!
Deborah, how would you describe your decorating style?
Fresh, clean and white. I imagined the interior of this house to be modern with touches of heritage character.
How have you dressed your home?
With a mixture of things. Some items are expensive, but I shop around and am not afraid of going into somewhere low-cost for cheaper items.
A lot of furniture came from our previous home, while some was bought new. In the upstairs bathroom we laid floor tiles for extra character – they remind me of the tiles my family had as a child – but added a contemporary element with the yellow vanity. In the main bedroom we wanted a relaxing colour so we chose Resene Karen Walker ‘Half Periglacial Blue’ and painted the double wardrobe dark grey. In the lounge I wanted a clean, white, modern aesthetic.
Words by: Catherine Steel. Photography by: Melanie Jenkins.