Portrait of the home as an art gallery

By Robyn Welsh

SIZE: Land 474sq m, house 186sq m.
PRICE INDICATION: Interest expected above CV $2.25 million.
INSPECT: Sun noon-12.45pm. Auction August 20.
ON THE WEB: bayleys.co.nz/1670069
SCHOOL ZONES: Ponsonby Primary, Ponsonby Intermediate, Auckland Girls Grammar and Western Springs College.
CONTACT: Karen Spires, Bayleys, ph 027 273 8220.
43 Lawrence Street, Herne Bay.
43 Lawrence Street, Herne Bay.

"We've had volume before but not as much floor area as this villa"

Interior designer Maggie Bryson has a well-honed knack of turning residential spaces into a functional art form. She understands design constraints and how to work through the challenges to get light and vitality into a home for the best kind of lifestyle.

But when she and her husband Peter Faire walked through this renovated early 20th-century villa, she saw double the positives that can be hard to find even in some urban heritage renovations.

"What attracted us to this was both the volume and the space," she explains. "We've had volume before but not as much floor area as this villa, and this living area is really quite big. That's what makes this so special."

Like so many villas, this one offered plenty of walls for artworks too. By the time Maggie had enlivened her freshly painted walls with her wall art and sculptures, she had achieved an art form as highly personalised as it was functional.

Both busy professionals, Peter and Maggie moved here three years ago after a vexed few months' house-hunting. Each weekend they'd work through her edited lists of potential homes to view when Peter flew back from his weekday insurance claim consultancy work in earthquake-stricken Christchurch.

Apart from this home's inherent sense of tranquillity, they had been gifted a functional, single-level design that welcomed the morning sun into the living areas and the late afternoon sun into the bedrooms/front office and down the side of the house to the rear garden.

For entertaining and extended family that includes five grandchildren, the seamless connection between the living areas and the rear deck and garden has supported their lifestyle through all four seasons.

Design-wise, its heritage acknowledgement is in the front face of the house, its front veranda, bay window and entry up past the stand-alone double garage. Bedrooms and bathrooms are on either side of the central hallway with an additional bedroom/office annex off the living area, added during mid-2000s extension and renovations.

Within the living area, significant design features include the double pitched ceiling, bay window, the vertical louvres for ventilation and the double French doors out to the landscaped rear garden with its espaliered pear and apple trees and potted citrus on faux grass. Inside and out, Maggie's professional eye saw in an instant everything she needed in a home. Her professional tape measure confirmed its splendid dimensions -- the 3.3m villa stud height, the 5m height from the floor to the pitch of the ceilings and the 4.4m long bench in the combined kitchen scullery/laundry behind her new redesigned Italian marble/lacquer kitchen.

Elsewhere Maggie needed to do little more than tweak the status quo. Fixed blinds over the roof windows in the living area protect art and furnishings from the sun. Remote controlled timber venetian blinds above the French doors filter heat and light.

In Peter's office, Maggie fitted drapes for warmth as a complement to existing exterior front shutters. The upper windows and double-hung windows elsewhere have been fitted with adjustable shutters. Maggie says she is a fan of internal shutters over timber venetians, especially in bedrooms, because they shut out more light and don't rattle in a breeze.

Outside, Maggie specified a new timber deck to replace the concrete courtyard, butting the timber up to the house in line with the plans of lime-washed interior timber flooring.

From front gate to rear water feature, this home has become too much of a good thing and they're looking for a smaller city base in the neighbourhood.

- NZ Herald

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