This home and office has had a major reno with a retro vibe

This home and office combo has had a major facelift and is now a fresh, contemporary and modern space with a nod to the past


Who lives here?

Andrew Barron (managing director and owner of The Timber Barron, a global timber exporter).

The original home

A unique property in Freemans Bay became the ideal work-from-home space for Aucklander Andrew Barron. The weatherboard villa had always been set up as an office downstairs, with the upper level serving as a potential living space. Due to the villa’s unusual configuration there were a lot of interior windows – “There was even a window looking into the bathroom and shower from the top of the stairs, which was pretty inappropriate,” laughs Andrew. Also, the kitchen and bathrooms were tired and in dire need of an upgrade.

Opportunity knocks

Andrew first moved into the building in 2009. Initially, he only rented the upstairs level to live in, using one of the bedrooms as his work office. In 2011, he took over the lease for the entire building, and two years later jumped at the chance to purchase it. “For me, this was a great opportunity for a couple of reasons: first, to be able to live upstairs from the office in central Auckland; and second, I’ve always wanted to own a villa,” he says.

Stressing less = employing professionals

Some people may say that renovating a house is one of the most stressful things you’ll ever do. But not in Andrew’s case. Although he had been involved in previous renovation projects, this time he decided to employ interior designer James Peters to project manage the renovation. James and his builder and painter did all the work on the project. The upstairs renovation took about seven weeks, during which Andrew stayed at a friend’s place nearby. The downstairs project took five weeks, with the office temporarily relocated elsewhere.


Keeping the flooring and choosing the colours

In the residential part of the house, Andrew wanted to maintain the traditional ‘villa’ look, so he ripped up the carpet to expose the beautiful, but battered, rimu floor. He had the floorboards sanded and polished, returning them to their former glory. The old kitchen was removed and replaced with contemporary white gloss cabinetry and a granite benchtop.

In the lounge, James encouraged Andrew to think about introducing colour. “Initially, I wanted to keep it very simple in the living spaces, mostly using white as that is what I knew growing up,” explains Andrew. “However, James really pushed me to try some new things, and one piece of advice that he gave me on colour was to use strong but muted tones.”


How to get the retro look

The retro look came about as a natural part of the design process. Andrew chose to use American white oak ply on the ceiling in the kitchen and bathrooms as well as oak flooring in the lounge, kitchen and dining area. He has combined mid-century and Scandinavian furniture, giving the living spaces character and warmth.

The colour palette upstairs is a clever combination of Resene ‘Alabaster’ with retro greens and burnt oranges. Olive green feature walls painted in Resene ‘Himalaya’ appear in both the lounge and master bedroom, and the colour pops up again in the kitchen splashback. For the bathroom James suggested using Resene ‘Fire’ – a rich earthy red – above the similarly toned mosaic tiles. This burnt red-orange hue is carried through to the downstairs hallway and into the adjoining office space.

That lock and leave feel

Andrew travels overseas frequently for business, so this unique home-and-work abode is ideal as he can simply lock it and leave. “Now that the renovation is complete I come home to a place that is peaceful and comfortable,” says Andrew. “It really inspires me and I always look forward to being there.”


Old vs. new

Andrew has always been drawn to houses with character. “I like older, villa-style buildings. I love polished wooden floors and I like to blend the old with the new, keeping it simple with clean lines,” he says. “Less is more.” He has also introduced new technology such as economical LED lighting, heat pumps and an alarm system that he can work from his phone.

Save vs. splurge

Although Andrew admits getting an interior designer on board was a major splurge, he says it was the best thing he could have done. “It saved me a lot of time. First, it cut out a lot of the work in getting the right types of materials, ie what worked and what didn’t work for the space. And second, James came up with many ideas that I would never have considered had I been doing it all myself. He pushed me to try new ideas and, in every case, I was happy with what he came up with.” Andrew says James’ team were reliable and efficient, meaning the project was completed on time with no mistakes or hold-ups, which perhaps explains why he found the project a relatively stress-free experience.

Windows and doors

All internal windows were removed and an over-sized sliding door was installed in the front office, allowing privacy if required. “The rest of the time, the slider stays open to create a bigger, more light-filled space,” explains Andrew. An internal wall separating the kitchen from the office space was demolished and a new kitchen was installed, and all the lighting was replaced and rewired. “We did away with the fluorescent tube lighting and introduced pendants in the main working area and LED lighting elsewhere,” says Andrew. Lastly, the entire space was repainted and American white oak panelling was installed in the reception area, nicely linking to the oak flooring and features upstairs.


Floor plan
Key – Upper level
1 Bedroom
2 Office
3 Kitchen & dining
4 Living
5 Bathroom
6 Main bedroom

Key – Lower level
1 Front meeting room
2 Reception
3 Toilet
4 Kitchen
5 Main office area
6 Garage

Words by: Annick Larkin. Photography by: Emma MacDonald.