29 March 2017

Baby Steps

If you’re looking for the ideal starter home in Auckland’s hottest suburb, then this could well be it.


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In the lifecycle of home ownership, upsizing and downsizing are inevitable parts of the process. As your family grows, so does your need for more space, and vice versa.

For Nick and Laura Patterson and their two young sons, that journey is just beginning as they look to accommodate their growing needs. But before that can happen, they need to sell their home of the past three-and-a-half years, at 55 Norfolk St.

During their time here, the couple have embarked on a series of upgrades that have gradually modernised and improved this character, bay-fronted villa, including the complete transformation of the back yard, some internal additions, and the installation of an HRV system, a couple of heat pumps, and a security system upgrade.

“We haven’t done anything structural to the house,” says, Nick, as he picks up his young son, Charlie. “In the bedrooms, we invested in some built-in wardrobes, with shelves and drawers, and that’s made a huge difference. We also added some internal plantation shutters to the front windows, which gives us privacy from the street.”

The high studs and the original decorative features in the three double bedrooms remain, so other than the obligatory coat of white paint, that’s all that was needed in the front part of the house.

The hallway that leads down to the open-plan living area conceals more storage, with a subtle linen cupboard built into the wall, and access to a converted loft space above, both of which Nick installed.

Typical of most villa conversions, the original lean-to at the rear of the house has been removed and replaced with a larger extension that incorporates the kitchen, dining and living area. In the case of 55 Norfolk Street, this extension is a little more compact than normal, but that has allowed for a much bigger entertainment deck and back garden.

“The back yard was a complete mess when we first moved in,” says, Laura. “There was an old pine deck on two levels, and the garden sloped steeply up to the boundary. Basically, it was totally overgrown and almost unusable, which was a shame, because it’s such a sunny, private space, with no neighbours overlooking us.”

Re-imagining this area was a big job, so the couple took on a professional landscape designer to come up with a family friendly design. “One of the things on my wish list was a flat lawn, where I could run around and kick a ball with the boys,” says, Nick. “We also wanted a large, functional deck, where we could entertain, and also where the kids could ride their bikes around when it was too wet to use the lawn.”

The finished product looks stunning. Surrounding Nick’s perfectly manicured lawn is a lush tropical border of mature plants, featuring young lemon, lime and orange trees, and a feijoa hedge along the back wall. There’s also a small shed and a permanent clothes-drying area. Then there’s the deck.

“We tried to think smart when we designed the deck,” says, Nick. “So, we made it from durable hardwood, and bordered it with built-in seating that has integrated storage and lighting. We also replaced the old pergola, and fitted a UV protected transparent roof.”

A set of double-glazed, bi-fold doors allows for the ubiquitous indoor-outdoor flow between the deck and the open-plan living area. This light-filled, L-shaped space contains the kitchen, dining and lounge, complete with the original fireplace – now upgraded with a gas-fired open hearth that gives the room a lovely ambience in the winter.

And it’s in this space that Nick and Laura had planned their next project – a complete revamp of the kitchen. “We had plans drawn up for a fantastic new gourmet kitchen by one of the country’s top designers, Celia Visser, but that’s something the new owners can decide on,” says, Laura. The plans for the kitchen and also the family bathroom come with the house.

Thinking about who he thinks would best suit this house, Nick says he can imagine a young couple or family living here that are at a similar stage to where they were a couple of years ago. “Maybe in their late twenties or early thirties,” he says. “Both working, with kids on the horizon, and who want to put their own stamp on the place. Or possibly even a retired couple wanting to downsize,” he adds.

This house has a lot going for it; not least it’s location, being just a two-minute stroll from the bright lights of Ponsonby Road strip, and within walking distance of a host of reserves and parks. It is also close-by to Richmond Road Primary School and a number of kindergartens – ideal for a young family wanting to enjoy the best of what this vibrant location has to offer.

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