Plenty of space and good proportions are magical ingredients when it comes to apartment living, so when interior designer Neil McLachlan first saw the previous incarnation of this penthouse apartment at The Wakefield, he realised its generous dimensions allowed scope to create a home with character.
Neil is recognisable from his days on television show Changing Rooms, although in his professional design work he is never expected to whip up a new look over a weekend. Known for his love of pattern and colour, Neil's expertise meant he could transform what was here previously and make the most of its potential. "The idea was to turn it into an apartment with a European feel," says Neil, who spent a decade living in Paris.
But it was more than the surfaces that Neil transformed. "We gutted the whole place and gave it a new lease of life," he says. A previously cavernous living space was divided to create a new bedroom and make the living room feel more appropriately scaled. Neil also improved the flow of awkward spaces by adding in extra storage, including a wine cellar and walk-in cupboards.
With a lofty 3m stud height and more than 200sq m in floor area, including near wrap-around decking, this apartment now includes three large bedrooms, three bathrooms, a separate laundry and an office big enough to be a fourth bedroom.
The decor manages to be individual without being overpowering. Inside the front door, the entranceway features marble flooring, with the office to the right. Fornasetti wallpaper, designed to look like illustrations of shelved books, is a witty reference to the office's function. A door leads to the deck outside.
Further into the apartment, new coffered ceilings and solid plaster cornices add textural interest and character to the ceiling, while panelled walls in the living room, painted rich Resene Cosmonaut, are interspersed with mirrored panels to emphasise the abundant space and add an element of reflectivity. There are shutters rather than curtains throughout the apartment, making it easy to filter all-day sun.
Unusually for an inner-city apartment there are two fireplaces, one on the expansive decking outside and the other in the living room. The heat and flames are created courtesy of ethanol, so no flue is required. Neil says the Corten steel fire surround helps to give this prominent feature in the room a "slightly industrial" look. Above the fireplace is some of Neil's signature art, in this case a Parisian-style streetscape that cleverly opens to reveal a niche for a flat-screen TV. Underneath is a shallow, disguised cupboard which provides room for cables and home entertainment system storage.
The kitchen, complete with linen-finish stainless steel benchtops and stainless steel mesh cabinet inserts, features birch-tree motif wallpaper. The same wallpaper, but in a different shade and behind glass, makes for an interesting splashback behind the cooking appliances on the rear wall, including an induction cooktop. Neil points out that the central island unit is on castors, allowing it to be moved to suit.
Off the kitchen is a separate laundry, which flows through to the main bathroom, complete with a marble-lined bath and solid oak cabinetry.
The apartment's central hall and all three bedrooms feature different, but complementary, wallpaper. The hall's bold horizontal stripes are offset by coloured vertical stripes in two of the bedrooms, while the master bedroom features an Osborne & Little floral design. Two of the bedrooms have en suites.
This and only one other apartment share lift access to this level, with easy access from side-by-side parking downstairs. The apartment's design and layout mean it would suit a range of buyers - especially those who appreciate character.By Penny Lewis