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never say never

From Habitat magazine - issue 10

A valuer’s poor assessment didn’t faze the owners when renovating this classic 1970s beachfront house.

Renovated beach home
Get the look with Resene Lumbersider tinted to Resene Double Bison Hide.

Going against the grain has never been much of an issue for Waikanae couple Lorna and Matene Love.

So when a valuer told them seven years ago that the beach-front property they’d just bought had ‘absolutely no flow’, they weren’t too concerned. “He suggested we cover in the central courtyard to better connect the spaces,” says Lorna, a property developer.

Thankfully, they chose to ignore his advice and now the open-air courtyard forms the heart of the sprawling home they share with their three sons, Reuben (7), Logan (6) and Houston (3), as well as dogs Barney and Trudi.

Gas fireplace - living room
A gas fireplace replaces an old window in the living room while Resene Talisman provides a splash of colour to the chimney wall. The other walls are Resene Hillary.

Besides, Lorna and her husband, a former junior All Black and founder/director of Maori clothing company Kia Kaha, had enough on their plates.

Built in 1973, the Fritz Eisenhofer-designed house’s mouldy walls and exposed ceilings were badly in need of repair when the couple bought it. But what really sold them were the expansive, private beach views, and the dynamics of the house.

“It’s a classic Eisenhofer in that it consisted of four smaller bedrooms but large living spaces. The basic layout worked for us, it just needed some tweaking.”

Wall art
Kid's living area
A kid’s living area sits beyond the kitchen.

That ‘tweaking’ turned out to involve four extensions, 15 months and an increase in the home’s footprint from 490sqm to a generous 550sqm. Not to mention re-piling, re-wiring, re-roofing and re-cladding the entire property in board and battens.

Their brief to draftsman Ben Gilpin was clear: they needed another bedroom, a bathroom for the kids, an ensuite for the master bedroom, and a new informal lounge-cum-dining room. The latter borrowed space from the overly generous courtyard, and now provides the family with ample space to entertain.

The one area of the house that managed to escape the sledgehammer was the kitchen. However, Lorna was adamant that the turquoise benchtops and joinery had to go, so Resene Tobacco Brown was used to bring the kitchen into the 21st century. She also replaced the home’s brown aluminium windows with white joinery, which added a sense of much-needed light.

Master bedroom
Kids bedroom
Master bedroom: Three poky spaces became one light-filled master bedroom, now painted Resene Martini. Kids room: A sunny shade of yellow, Resene Hathaway, is perfect for the boys’ bedrooms. Get the look with Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen.

Beyond the kitchen is the former formal dining room that now serves as the playroom and kids’ television room. On the other side of the wall is what Lorna calls the adult living room, where she and Matene usually retire after the kids have gone to bed.

The couple decided to keep the existing entrance and hallway, which snakes around the courtyard. They then added a new wing to the eastern wall containing a bathroom, toilet and oldest son Reuben’s room.

Dining room
The dining room, in Resene Double Parchment, is part of a large informal space that’s perfect for entertaining.

It’s also where colour consultant Heather Thorley suggested introducing a splash of colour, so the three boys’ bedrooms now sport bright walls painted in Resene Hathaway (yellow) and Resene Jigsaw (green).

In the master bedroom, the brief was to do away with the existing ‘three poky spaces’ that fitted a bed and little else. They achieved their desire for an open, light-filled space by knocking down two walls and installing three generous skylights, as well as relocating a tiny, windowless bathroom into the new extension. They also turned a spare cupboard into a walk-in wardrobe.

A major issue was what to do with the staircase that connects this living room with the library which enjoys impressive sea views. Says Lorna: “Because of its odd shape, the staircase took up most of the room, meaning that it was virtually unusable.”

So builder Phil Wynward re-aligned the staircase entrance, while the wall behind it has been painted in Resene Pohutukawa to provide contrast.

The removal of a window on the eastern wall has made room for a gas fireplace, and Resene Talisman provides a splash of colour to the chimney breast wall. The addition of three high windows in the adjacent wall lets in much needed light.

When it came to the courtyard, the couple ripped out the old spa pool and extended the decking that leads from the informal living room. They also increased access to the space from the front door, giving their home the flow it was so sorely lacking.

While Lorna runs the couple’s property development business from home, Matene combines lecturing at Victoria University with his work at Kia Kaha. They both, therefore, needed separate office spaces which they achieved by turning an upstairs sewing room into Matene’s office, while Lorna opted for the office downstairs.

Beachfront home exterior
Large windows and decks respond to the house’s seaside location.

Ask Lorna to describe her style and she’ll say “simple, but with a modern twist”. When it came to decorating the house, she admits she relied heavily on colour consultant Heather Thorley of Colour Options.

“Matene is colour blind, so he wasn’t going to be any help! But I worked closely with Heather to select quite a neutral palette.” This includes using Resene Double Parchment for most of the interior walls, Resene Triple Parchment for the skirting, door and window frames, and Resene Double Napa for the doors.

Although it’s taken some time to achieve their dream home, the family says it’s been more than worth it.

In fact, it was such a painless process that they’re keen to launch into another round of renovations which will see the kitchen/dining area further opened up. But, says Lorna, that might have to wait until the boys are a bit older...

Did you know? Keep your wooden deck looking good – stain with Resene Kwila Timber Stain or Resene Woodsman to enhance its natural good looks.

Alternative solution

the walls and ceilings in this solution are Resene Bianca. The fireplace wall is Resene Blackout

Fiona McLeod of Fiona McLeod Design suggests this alternative scheme:

Alternative solution 1

Based on a striking colour scheme of red, white and black, this room is full of personality, character and contemporary style. Despite its clean lines and uncluttered nature, it has a richness introduced by the red upholstery, glossy hide rug, timber floors, gas fire and glowing lamps. The re-styled Lazy Girl chair introduces a bit of fun and sex-appeal, and is an example of my passion for refurbishing retro pieces of furniture. It’s a scheme of understated glamour and just a little bit cheeky.

phone: 09 378 1818  email:

Accessories: Lazy Girl chair, from Fiona McLeod Design. MID sofa, Black Cow Hide rug, UFO floor lamps, Replica Noguchi Coffee Table, from Forma. Flameboyant Solitaire gas fire, from Inovo.

Alternative solution

the walls in this solution are Resene Secrets, while those beside the fireplace are Resene Woodstock. Ceilings and trims are Resene Quarter Silver Sand

Sandra Van Rynbach of Residential Colour & Design suggests this alternative scheme:

Alternative solution 2

As the room has three high windows to let in lots of natural light, it can take a more adventurous colour scheme. Relaxed pieces of furniture, such as the chaise lounge, and earthy colours help create a ‘get back to nature’ feeling while the recessed walls in Resene Woodstock create a backdrop for the cabinet and console table. The colour difference between the trim colour Resene Quarter Silver Sand and the main walls in Resene Secrets is deliberate to give a feeling of increased space while the wall colour also helps highlight the intricacies of the metal art.

phone: 09535 9739  mobile: 027 205 1949  email:

Accessories: Emotion chaise sofa, from Country Theme. Fijian display cabinet, from Why Pay More Furniture. Fold-out coffee table, Metal art, from Gascoigne Furniture. Auvia clock, Buco water hyacinth bowl, from Freedom Furniture.

words: Sharon Stephenson
pictures: Nicola Edmonds
illustration: Bruce Bryant

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