With features and materials gathered from far and wide, this home is a combination of collectibles and designer touches. By VICKI HOLDER.

Unprepossessing from the street, this big renovated villa in Grey Lynn marries award-winning architecture with heritage character for breath-taking results. Created by actors Carl Bland and Peta Rutter, the home resonates with a passion for unusual design and collectibles.

Carl and Peta travel extensively in New Zealand and overseas, scouring demolition yards and markets for objects that take their fancy. "It's my addiction," says Carl. "I love old found objects and architectural antiques."

Whimsical finds introduced as they surfaced during the renovation give an eclectic look. With the white walls, tall stud height and big windows, it has the serene, slightly theatrical feel of a grand old Parisian apartment.


The lounge in particular seems set to impress visitors with a striking black fireplace surround and matching mirror above. Painted to replicate marble, it was shipped from the South Island to star between symmetrical sets of library shelving and storage cabinets. Enclosing the room for a more formal, intimate mood, tall white timber doors, circa 1880, came from the Freemans Pub in Freemans Bay.

Opened up towards the rear, a voluminous new living area extends from the original part of the house across a covered terrace to an immaculately groomed, west-facing garden.

Here, polished concrete floors give an industrial edge to contrast with the glamour of globe-like 1960s chandeliers. White steel casement windows from the old Grafton nurses hostel frame the view from the kitchen bench.

By architect Daniel Marshall, the kitchen was a finalist in a design competition when it was completed in 2001. Essentially minimalist, it brings together clean, white, rectangular surfaces floating above the floor. Like rotund glass jewels, handles bought in Barcelona add sparkle on cabinet doors. As you peer through the kitchen, an unexpected emerald glimpse of garden takes your eye through a low window reaching from the floor to about waist height.

The back of the house was a completely different design until Carl discovered the turned pillars that now support the veranda. These columns came from a large home in Herne Bay, built in the 1880s, and provide a touch of difference along the terrace.

Adding shelter while allowing light to shine through at the end of the veranda, a large screen of beautiful windows framed in steel was salvaged from the Astor Hotel dining room on Auckland's Symonds St. Peeling paint adds to their allure.

The house was originally just a small, three-bedroom villa. Where the hallway ends as it meets the new extension, an atrium stairway winds up through a glass cubicle to a fourth bedroom or living space in the attic. Reaching the full width of the house, this large area is ideal as a teenage retreat with extra rooms in place for storage. One of these could easily become an en suite.

The original bathroom downstairs was transformed by Daniel Marshall. It's a clever arrangement of screens that create intrigue, partially obscuring the bath from the vanity area. The delicacy of shapely Art Deco taps balances the sturdy robustness of a functional raw concrete vanity benchtop. Such contrasts are seductive for they take you by surprise.


Even the garden has been designed with the same eye-catching attention to detail as the interiors, pairing the old and the new with a wicked sense of humour. On either side of the lawn, old moss-covered park benches threaten to disintegrate. Of course, Carl and Peta don't expect anyone to sit on them. They're merely there for visual appeal.

Staged for enjoyable entertaining and comfortable living, this big, theatrical home has all the most sought-after elements a city-fringe property should have and much, much more.

Vital Statistics

ADDRESS: 39 Murdoch Rd, Grey Lynn.

FEATURES: Renovated, two-storey home; large living with separate lounge; covered terrace for sheltered outdoor living; west-facing landscaped garden; four bedrooms; Daniel Marshall-designed bathroom and kitchen; off-street parking; garden studio.

AUCTION: 6pm, Wednesday, December 1.

AGENT: Tricia Lafferty, Meo Realty. Phone 378 1500 bus; 021 611 205 mob.