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chop and change

From Habitat magazine - issue 13

A light-filled contemporary home has unlikely origins… in an old New Plymouth butcher’s shop.

Entry wall and steps
Resene Tuna is a quiet contrast to the vibrant Resene Mexican Wave.

Craig St George found his perfect home in the unlikely guise of old butcher’s shop.

The long walls and three-metre high ceilings were little more than a dark concrete box at first, but once he hired New Plymouth architect Ian Pritchard, between them they wrestled out an award-winning design of clean modern lines and light.

Built in the 1930s as a butcher’s shop (complete with sloping floor to hose down muck and blood), the challenges for the 120 square metre space were “…a lot!” Craig smiles at the memory. “First there was fitting in what I wanted and the number of rooms in this long rectangular building. And of course, light! It was pitch black. It was basically a dark tunnel.”

Although the design brief was initially ‘industrial grunge’, Ian saw an opportunity to do something timeless yet in keeping with Craig’s modern utilitarian theme. Within three short months the place was completely gutted and finished. “It’s a new slick apartment slipped into an old concrete coat,” says Ian. “Existing rough concrete walls contrast with the new work, each enhancing the other.”

A panel of bright orange (Resene Mexican Wave) now marks the entrance and welcomes Craig and his wife Wu Li home. “We wanted something with punch,” explains Craig. It stands bold and cheerful against the neutral dark grey cladding (Resene Tuna) and muted tones of the wooden deck and concrete steps.

Entry wall and deck
Contemporary kitchen
Entry wall: An entry wall in Resene Mexican Wave makes a dramatic welcome. Get the exterior look with Resene Lumbersider tinted to Resene Mexican Wave and Resene Lumbersider CoolColour tinted to Resene Tuna. Kitchen: Resene White gives the once dark space new light while exposed beams bring loft-style sophistication.

The main entrance has become a wall of glass so that natural light now streams into the kitchen, dining and living room. Bringing the outside theme inside, the burst of orange continues as a glossy glass splashback in the kitchen. It adds brilliant contrast to the simple colour scheme within, but also helps define the kitchen area.

Here a raised white ceiling (Resene White) adds to the feeling of limitless space. As do exposed wooden beams also painted white, blending and lending themselves to an airy loft-like appearance. Walls are white throughout (also Resene White) while stainless steel bench tops and aluminium skirting add silver highlights.

A contemporary living room
Kitchen and living room: The kitchen is arranged neatly against one wall and dramatically defined by its Resene Mexican Wave splashback. Floors: polished concrete aggregate. Furniture: replica Le Corbusier sofa and Barcelona chairs.

Simple yet stunning in design is a small open-air courtyard dividing the apartment into living and sleeping areas. Unadorned save for a few plants, it brings light and a quiet serenity right into the heart of the apartment. Glass sliding doors open from the living room, the centrally located master bedroom, and along one side of the connecting hall. Entirely internal, its doors can be left open on a hot summer’s night without compromising security.

Reflective surfaces also create a sense of space and light. The hallway hides the laundry and a 10-metre long storage system behind a wall of metal roller doors. Polished pebble and concrete floors add shine and texture to hardwearing practicality, while handle-less lacquered white cabinetry gives a streamlined look.

Master bedroom
Roller doors: The laundry, an office and masses of storage sit behind a row of roller doors in the hall. The courtyard is entirely internal, acting as a light shaft to the rooms. Get the look with Resene Woodsman Decking Stain. Oven and hob, from Smeg.  Bedroom: The master bedroom is separated from the living by an internal courtyard. Storage: aluminium roller doors by Scotty Doors. Architect: Ian Pritchard,

It is no surprise that Craig is a devout minimalist. He loves to be clear of clutter. In the bathroom, as throughout, floating cabinetry give a sense of extra floor space and weightlessness. The apartment’s ambient lighting is hidden strip, with not one intrusive bulb to be seen.

Another delight is the design of the two smaller ‘windowless’ bedrooms. White walls bounce light from the unusual clerestory-style ceilings. The rooms’ common wall extends above the roof and unseen louver windows allow in a soft indirect light and connection to the outside world.

Like the rest of the home these rooms are fresh and light. Zen-like in its simplicity, whiteness and precise use of colour, this home is now far removed from its dark beginnings.

Did you know... When painting inside consider Resene Zylone Sheen VOC Free – it is free of volatile organic compounds, which gives you better indoor air quality.

Did you know... Steps and paths can become slippery when wet. Avoid falls with Resene Non-Skid Deck & Path, available in a range of colours to suit your home.

Alternative solution - exotic spice

a colourful twist for the St George living area

Alex Fulton, interior designer, suggests this alternative scheme:

Alternative solution 1

This scheme injects colour and a sense of fun to a very open and light space. The usual approach would be to make the walls white then add colour through accessories but why not reverse that and highlight with white while having the large objects such as the couch and walls in blocks of colour? The coffee table, lamp and shelving unit are white to match the ceiling and trim (Resene Half Alabaster) and to contrast with the bold block colours. I see this room as a place for family board games, entertaining friends, or reading a magazine by yourself. The colour scheme originates from the bold wallpaper. The open shelves let you see the strong wall colour (Resene Retreat). You could then have brightly coloured objects on the shelves. Replacing the television with this unusual suspended fireplace adds cosiness and ambience.

This colourful scheme has a feature wall in Resene Retreat and a suspended shelf in Resene Red Hot while the opposite wall is wallpaper. Trims and the ceiling are in Resene Half Alabaster.

phone: 021 622 900   email:

Accessories: Cocoon Hanging Fire in stainless steel, from Matisse. Humpty Footstools and Table, from Kovacs. Skippers Canyon rug in Pure Blossom, from Cronz. Tall Tank in white, from Simon James Design. St Martin couch by Arik Levy, from Backhouse.

Alternative solution - zone of calm

a sophisticated scheme for the same room

Shelley Cooper and Rae Zhao, of Zoop Design, suggest this alternative scheme:

Alternative solution 2

This long, narrow angular space is softened by using curved organic shapes that are inspired by nature. The sofa is welcoming and comfortable and reflects the trend towards rounded shapes for sofas and chairs. The rug also features curved shapes and introduces warmth and texture to the space. The rattan ottoman and outdoor chair mirror the materials used in the pendant lighting, bringing a feeling of unity to the design. A sense of indoor/outdoor flow is heightened by using the same shape of chair as the sofa, but in different materials. The colour palette is warm and dramatic featuring Resene Pursuit, a vibrant red, and Resene Half Alabaster which works well with warm tones.

Resene Half Alabaster provides a restful base for this room with quirky staggered shelving in Resene Pursuit and Resene Black Sheep.

phone: 022 424 7235   email:

Accessories: Stua Eclipse tables, from Mattisse. Santa & Cole Tripode G5 lamp, Foscarini Tress pendant lights, from ECC Lighting + Furniture. Dinosaur Design Boulder #1 rug, from Designer Rugs. Rattan Birdnest Stool, from Citta Design.

illustrations: Malcolm White

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