Mount Albert, Auckland
Floor AreA
194 sqm

related articles

Mount Albert, Auckland

An Open Secret

Where once Pip and Richard watched their two young daughters doing tricks on the old-school trampoline, is now a urban oasis with a Box™ house. In those days, the trampoline at the bottom of the garden was of the kind where you could bounce off a break a limb and the lawn stretched past fruit trees to an asbestos shed. Now the couple live in a 194 square-metre house and entertain with ease.
Subdividing the 702-square-metre section, that is part of their little family’s history, made sense when changes to the Auckland Unitary Plan allowed it. The owners had lived in the bungalow at the front of the site for 15 years and did not want a future separated from the area.
When they started to research just what to build, and who to build it with, “everyone had a different opinion,” says Pip. Tamaki Makaurau’s traffic jams were a catalyst for her decision.
Driving home from town each day, she would sit in her car and stare at the big sign above Box’s former offices in Kingsland. The sleek black house on the billboard was just what she wanted. Pip was keen to avoid being the co-ordinator between contractor A and contractor B, having done significant renovations before. “I knew that if I could find a company that did it all, it was going to be just so much easier.”
That couple’s first meeting with Box™ design manager, Tony Borland-Lye, reinforced that she had made the right decision. He took on the brief – 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and one ‘everything’ room – and was instantly decisive about what could be achieved on the site.
Then, towards the end of the conversation, Pip threw in a bit of a curve-ball. “Oh – and we want a pool,” she said lightly, in case the hubby said no. He didn’t, and the pool was included.
The project was handed over four years ago in September 2019, and said pool is the centre of attention at the house where the owners are natural entertainers. The L-shaped downstairs living areas wraps around it in a hug of hospitality and Richard’s must-have – an outdoor fireplace – is a cosy counterpoint for when the summer months are over.
The jazzy custom-made coping pool tiles are based on some Moroccan designs Pip had fallen in love with. The tiles’ three colours (orange, blue and black) reference the house.
They echo the zesty orange front door, which punches out against the black plywood cladding. The cladding is laid with vertical lines that travel across the two levels, giving the form of the home a strong contemporary flavour.
In contrast, the kitchen is a study in white and natural-toned plywood. “A lot of people were doing black kitchens at the time, but I was worried it would be too dark with the all-black exterior,” says Pip. Working on the interiors with Box design lead Tim Hogarth was fun and engaging. Pip brought along her Instagram and Pinterest pics – and her trusting nature. It was not misplaced. Tim incorporated Pip’s suggestion to make the island bench appear angular by giving it triangular ends and cantilevering the top beyond the base. This clever form makes the island look like it’s a floating object within the space.
The kitchen is beautifully restrained, with fully integrated appliances and streamlined cabinetry with no handles. It’s amusing to watch visitors try to find the fridge or the rubbish bin, due to many integrated details. It’s even more amusing when they eventually discover there’s a whole lot more to this room than meets the eye. Tim suggested to craft a hidden pantry door tucked behind what looks like a cabinetry panels – a detail which has become the clients’ party trick. A bi-fold door peels back to reveal, not only a scullery, but a laundry and wine room, and access to the garage. “I like to be able to leave stuff in the scullery when we have people over, and the hanging rails in the laundry are great for when it’s raining or
just too far to the washing line,” says Pip.
A few steps down from the interconnected kitchen, dining and living room, is another cosy area which has served the family well. During lockdown it became the home office, with Richard’s books lined up on floor-to-ceiling shelves. “One night when he was out, I arranged all the books in colour order,” laughs Pip. It also has a Tilt-Away bed for extra guests, and for a couple of years before the young-ones went off to university, it was a teen hang-out, easily accessed via a side gate.
Upstairs, past the cedar stairwell balustrade, are the three bedrooms which grab views of the surrounding neighbourhood. Two are 3m x 3m – with built-in wardrobes, a size that is enough but not excessive. The main bedroom has a matte black ensuite slivered down the south side of the plan, with a walk-in wardrobe behind the bed that the couple say is luxury itself. “We both have a LOT of shoes,” explains Pip.
More storage under the stairs and an insulated garage room means the practical side of keeping the objects and toys gathered over the years is sorted. But it’s the pleasure of sharing that this couple really enjoy. For 21 st birthday parties, Christmas days, and everything in between, the layout functions superbly. “I would never choose to live in a bungalow again – a new house is just so much easier. And I love it when people pop over unannounced,” says Pip. A box of pool towels stored neatly in the laundry is at the ready for just such an occasion.