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Built in the 1920s and renovated last year, this grand Dunedin home celebrates the best of both eras.
Commissioned by solicitor Ralph Aspinall, the house featured quality finishes including ornate fibrous plaster ceilings and beautiful leadlight doors and windows.
But until the renovation, the living areas suffered from a lack of light and there was little connection with the garden.
Thought to have been designed by leading arts and crafts architect Basil Hooper, the property was originally a storey-and-a-half bungalow of four bedrooms but underwent a huge transformation in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
The current owners — a professional couple with four children aged 9 to 17 — visited in 2015, when it had been a long-term rental.
For years, they had walked around the area, wondering what lay beyond the imposing gates and diamond quarry leadlight windows, and the first open home did not disappoint.
"I remember saying, ‘I think we can do something really good with this house and we should do everything we can to buy it’."
Having negotiated a sale and a short, 10-day settlement, their original intention was to simply add skylights and modernise the existing living areas.
However, architect Hamish Wixon recommended moving the kitchen-family area from the darkest corner of the house to the sunnier, opposite end and this proved to be the "right decision".
Before the renovations, they barely set foot in this area with its study, music room and formal reception lounge: "You came through the front door there and walked past it down to the living area at the other, dark end of the house and that was about it. It just sat idle."
At one end of the house, a TV lounge opens to a covered outdoor seating area, spa pool and swim spa. At the other end, the new kitchen-family area extends on to a patio with built-in seating and fireplace.The standout feature in the kitchen is the island with painted pressed tin on one side and copper lights overhead. But getting the bench top into place was a "logistical nightmare", the owner says.
W. Hamilton Building Ltd director Bill Hamilton says the top was craned off a truck on to a purpose-built trolley, then carefully manoeuvred into the house over new floorboards that the builders had protected.
"It would have taken 16 men to lift it if we’d done it completely by hand. We managed to avoid that by thinking of other ways to get it in there but it still took about eight."
The double brick walls and heavy slate roof meant careful consideration had to be given to supporting existing elements while the work took place.
The builders also went to extra lengths to hide new structural steel and to make sure that details such as the location of light fittings and the design of built-in shelving were in keeping with the home’s original character.
The owners, who always wanted to be sympathetic to the nearly century-old property, say it was a case of making it more contemporary but keeping traditional elements.
Their original plan to paint, carpet, put in a new kitchen and "tidy up" the bathrooms turned into considerably more than that but they wanted to "do it once, do it right and have no regrets".
"The end result is completely different to what we imagined it could be when we first saw the house."
"It’s an amazing home for a large family to spread out in and we now fully use the whole house, indoors and out, year-round."