Something Old, Something New…

“It’s amazing what you can do with a rectangle.” And I am amazed as I stand inside Wendy and Neville’s beautiful, rectangular home tucked away in Grange Street. I have always been a great admirer of a simple shape, well-positioned for the sun, and elegantly finished. This house epitomises that aesthetic.

Wendy describes the style of the house as country rustic, and the lush wooden floors certainly emphasise that feel. “We really wanted the French oak,” she tells me. “It was an expensive indulgence but it’s so beautiful. The finish is called ‘skipped’, which means it is slightly uneven, so it gives the look and feel of an authentic, old floor.’ The country house feel is continued with the use of rough-sawn pine for the walls and ceilings, which are painted white throughout. The high gable ceiling and white interior give the house a lovely sense of space and light.

Wendy and Neville designed the buildings themselves, and Neville built it all with the help of Scott Yearbury and his team. What really creates the country rustic feel, however, is the beautiful interior finish incorporating Neville’s cabinetry skills and Wendy’s passion for interior design. “Neville is very clever with his hands and all of the cabinets, cupboards and other skillful touches are his bespoke work.” I can’t resist opening and closing a few of the cupboards and drawers, and there is the enormously satisfying heft and sound of well-made wooden furniture.

The house also features an amazing array of items from Wendy’s long-stored, now displayed, collection of antiques, bric-a-brac, collectibles and other elegant bits and pieces of art/furniture. Blending and mixing different styles, textures and time periods is Wendy’s forté, and making it work is a challenge at which she has excelled. “I love the scullery – the rustic, natural-timber, chunkiness of it,” Wendy declares. “It’s also the place where I can finally display my treasures that have been stored in Mum’s attic for 20 years!” she laughs.

As we stroll through the house, recycled kauri benches, desks and work surfaces appear here and there, as do ornate cast-iron shelf supports and stands. There is a feature wall that uses kauri ceiling boards from one of the oldest boarding houses in Auckland. A large, antique stained-glass window fits seamlessly into the new surfaces around it. It’s a scrumptious combination of museum and modern build, and I like it.

Heading outdoors, Wendy shows me the garage with a B&B unit on the sunny side, the young orchard, and Neville’s giant workshop from which the amazing bespoke furniture, cabinets and artworks appear. This also has a small, attached sleep-out, with an additional bathroom that features a tub with a view. Luxury! 

“We fell in love with the site straight away,” Wendy tells me. “It was nice and flat at the top, and then gently slopes down to the stream and bush.” They built a picnic table at the tranquil niche by the stream, where it gets the late evening sun, and it is a favourite spot for the couple to take dinner and a bottle of wine.

Wendy tells me that the build went quite quickly and smoothly, once they got going, but she doesn’t really enjoy the process.”While building can be stressful at times, I have enjoyed the process and love the designing aspect. This has been my ninth build/renovation and may be the last!”

It’s an amazing combination of Wendy and Neville’s talents, and the attention to detail has resulted in a beautiful, character-filled home in a very peaceful and inviting location.

DesignJunction Mag