Written by John Williams
Photography by Jamie Cobel
For Auckland creatives, Grace and Jon Chapman-Smith, their love affair with 210 Golf Road, Titirangi, began six years ago when a friend came across this gem of a house whilst hanging art for its owner.
“After looking for over a year, this was the first house we’d walked into and thought this one’s home. At the time we were living in Parnell, but were looking Auckland-wide,” remembers Grace. “We knew we were going to have children and we didn’t want to compromise on size. Our compromise was to move further out – but it actually didn’t end up being a compromise. In fact, it’s been much better,” adds Jon.
"When we stumbled on this house, we thought, this is unbelievable. We never thought we’d get a house like this."
In terms of materials and layout and architecture, it could easily be mistaken for a Group Architects’ house, says Jon. “My grandmother was best friends with Bill Wilson and many of the ‘group’ from that period, and she had her houses designed by them.
Since moving in, the couple have found out that their house was built in 1971, and there had been an architect involved with the plans. They’ve also discovered that the builder, who also lived in the house, had built a number of the mid century modern houses in the area that were designed by Group Architects.
One of the things Grace and Jon loved about the house when they first saw it was that it hadn’t been messed with. However, one of the first things they did was cut a hole between the kitchen and the dining, to open the place up and give the two rooms some connection. They also put in a new kitchen.
“Most people come in and think that’s the original kitchen. Grace did a fantastic job at making it in keeping with the rest of the house,” says Jon.
If fact everything the couple has done to this house has been done with thought and respect to the original design and aesthetics. There’s an authenticity to the place; a blurred the line between new and old, like the copper Tom Dixon light above the dining room table that could easily have come straight out of the 1970s.
Another example of the attention to detail that has been given to this house is the Martinique ‘Banana Leaf’ wallpaper in the sunken snug. It was originally bought to go into the toilet, but when Grace got it she realised it would be way too much to use in a small space, so it ended up on the snug wall, with new timber panelling on either side, ‘just to cosy it up’, she says. The result is that it looks like it’s always been there.
Outside, Jon has spent a lot of time on the landscaping – four summers, in fact. There’s now a large new deck area off the dining room, and the front lawn and back yard have been levelled. He’s also built a very cool little tree house, again in keeping, with big round windows that have a Japanese aesthetic.
“The best thing for me is the layout,” says Grace. “With our bedrooms being downstairs, it’s so quiet at night, and it’s nice to have the separation between the living spaces. Also, there’s a completely separate bedroom with an ensuite upstairs, so guests can stay here and have their own space.”
The layout of this house is thoughtful. In this house there is flow, with spaces being revealed as you walk in through the house from the front door. It yields just enough visual interest without giving everything away immediately.
“It works because the house allows you to have individual spaces, yet you’re all within earshot of each other,” says Grace.
“And there’s the texture,” adds Jon. “The timber and the brick, and the blue carpet, which is outrageous. I doubt you’d ever intentionally choose that colour, but it works so well. It’s absolute gold.”
With most of the house now finished – although it’ll never be completely done, according to Jon – it’s time for the couple and their two young daughters to move on.
“We feel blessed that we found this place, for sure, but we know that whoever ends up buying it will have the same appreciation that we do, and will carry it on.”
To view the property listing click here.