In honouring the 1960s architecture of their Ron Sang-designed home, Monique Sinel and her engineer husband, Chris Hornabrook, have created a stunning contemporary masterpiece, distinguished by striking Modernist lines.

On the day the property went on the market, they simply had to have it. "We thought Ron Sang was amazing," says Monique.

"But the owner was very particular about who she would sell to. She and her husband had lived here for many years.

"They'd brought up their children and buried their pets here. So it was very special to her and she didn't want any developers buying it."

Monique and Chris secured the property overlooking the harbour a week after they saw it.

"It was originally a tiny, run-down, three-bedroom home built in 1958," says Monique.


"The owners were printers and used to print all Ron's plans. They became friends, so they got him to do their renovation in 1968.

9 Heath Ave, Northcote, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst
9 Heath Ave, Northcote, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst

"He enlarged the home, adding a huge rumpus downstairs. It was beautifully done, but tired.

"We came along and thought we'd do a renovation. As the building process went on, we decided to replace everything. It was really important for us to honour what Ron Sang had done."

Typically 1960s rooms were pokey, so they commissioned Richard Naish of RTA Studio to keep as much of Ron's design as possible but to open up the living and add more space.

Keeping the overall structure with its arching high-pitched roofline, they changed the configuration by taking out walls, the central hallway, and moving the kitchen back to create room for a scullery.

Pivoting around the black and composite stone kitchen, the area is divided into different functional spaces without the need for walls.

Hanging above the dining table, an original 1960s curvaceous pendant light complements the black Tom Dixon lights over the kitchen island. Just the wiring needed replacing.

9 Heath Ave, Northcote, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst
9 Heath Ave, Northcote, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst

On one wall, a log fire keeps the whole area toasty in winter, while a wet-back heats radiators in bedrooms.

Across the front through black-framed glass sliders, the deck has been extended to maximise outdoor living and views over the new pool of Waitemata Harbour and Rangitoto Island.

Eschewing the usual glass balustrade across the deck and fencing around the pool, the couple replicated the striking original wrought iron design, by adding height to bring it up to current regulations and painting it black.

Rather than wholesale demolition, "It was more about replacing and renewing, making tweaks and changes," says Monique.

9 Heath Ave, Northcote, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst
9 Heath Ave, Northcote, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst

The builder took a lot of time to source the narrow tawa floor planks to match the original timber in the living areas. After stripping back the stain and drying them, a process that took eight months, they treated the timber with a water-based solution to keep the raw colour.

Original stairs from the living descend to a large, versatile lower level rumpus, or fifth bedroom..

It has proved ideal accommodation for "Grandma and Granddad". On the way down, a cupboard once housed the large water boiler that heated the old house. Now removed, it offers huge storage space in addition to the double internal garaging and space under the entry which is now used, as it has always been, for storing firewood.

While the home appears sleek, modern and new, it stands testament to the endurance of the timeless original Ron Sang design.

A year after it was completed, the previous owner returned to check it out. "She seemed to approve," says Monique.

• 4-5 bedrooms, 2 bathroom, 2* parking spaces.
• Home 286sq m, land 1095sq m.
• Set date of sale: 28 March (unless sold prior).
• Inspect: Sat/Sun 11.30am to noon, or by appointment.
• Schools: Northcote Primary and Northcote College.
• Contact: Scott Wither, Ray White, 021 2255 988 or Chloe Wither 021 672 191.
*Plus 3OSP