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NZ History meets modernity

Property Here - Saturday, June 08, 2013

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With a fair amount of renovation experience behind her, Tracey Collett thought giving this home a new lease of life would be a fun project. She was attracted to the house because of its elevation on a large, flat site, its solid structure, strong lines and "eclectic mix of materials", including native timber floors and ceilings.

Tracey thinks the cedar-clad home was relocated from Takapuna in the 1980s, and "had once been someone's pride and joy but had fallen into disrepair".

Removing the carpet and cork tiles revealed heart matai floors, but also showed that some of the boards had been laid in the wrong direction and patched with cheaper materials. Reinstating the matai was a big job, although sourcing the timber was made easier by the fact that Tracey's husband Darrin works in the forestry industry.

The home's glazed northern front keeps it warm and dry, although initially there were so many doors on this side that the entrance wasn't clear. By rationalising the doors, Tracey created an obvious entry and was able to change the layout inside the home from three bedrooms and a study nook to four bedrooms with a slightly smaller study nook. Ceiling insulation went in, and any walls that had to be relined were insulated.

Now when you enter through the front door you can turn left towards the living spaces or right to the master suite, with the lines of the rimu tongue-and-groove ceiling guiding you in either direction.

Tracey says she loves the way the house "opens up and evolves" as you move to the kitchen and dining area, and then into a casual living area before stepping down to the lounge, which features high ceiling and glazed gabled end wall. Light floods this room throughout the day, bouncing off the gleaming wooden floors. At night, track lights on the ceiling beam and downlights hidden behind a pelmet provide atmosphere.

A new wood burner in the upper living area heats the whole L-shaped open-plan space, which has a rimu ceiling and wall panelling defining the kitchen/dining area.

Tracey says the aim was to make the home more functional, but she also wanted to pay tribute to its heritage. With that in mind, she added composite benchtops to the kitchen but kept the retro copper rangehood and the cabinetry, which has been relined.

Housed in its own wing, the main bedroom has an en suite and opens to a deck that runs along the northern face of the house. Outside the lounge, this deck steps down to another that makes the most of the north-facing aspect.

Some landscaping of the site has been completed but Tracey says there's "heaps of potential' for new owners to improve the property, which sits on a quiet no-exit road and has a neighbouring council reserve. Tracey and Darrin subdivided the property after they bought it so there is also the option of buying the adjoining section of about 800sq m.

From the house there are views of the estuary, and the village is only a short walk away. "Riverhead village is a good place to live if you want to be a bit country but not have the responsibility of lots of acres around you," says Tracey.

Now that this project is complete, Tracey can turn her attention to finishing renovating the couple's Kumeu home knowing she has created "a warm, welcoming family home" for the new owners.