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NZ Making all the right moves

Property Here - Saturday, May 18, 2013

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On the water, Ray Davies' job as the tactician of Emirates Team New Zealand is to interpret what's going on around him and get that information back to his skipper so the team get their winning result.

Put simply, he says, "I watch the wind and the water and communicate with the skipper. It's all about good communication."

He has discovered that it's not too different on dry land, especially when you're putting your muscle behind a major, first-time renovation project as he has done recently.

"Building a house is a bit like a yacht race," he explains. "You definitely have to think ahead and cover all of your bases. It's quite a process."

Ray bought this bungalow in 2004 for its development potential and its proximity to his Viaduct Harbour workplace and Westhaven marina. Other professional and amateur yachties living in this neighbourhood clearly had their eyes on the main chance too, earning this locale the nickname "Sailor's Corner".

Taking note of how this house sat on its elevated site and also of its wider surroundings, Ray soon gleaned a good feel for how to wring the best from this development opportunity for his family.

In architectural parlance it was about retaining the best of this home's 1910s-1920s Californian bungalow style and doing away with things like the inappropriate 1980s carport.

With Ray based in Europe in the post-America's Cup days of 2009, getting this project on track came down to a series of meetings with architect John Hill. Then it was about everyone digging in for the long haul that included Ray's 10 flights home to touch base with the team.

"It was about getting the brief nailed down. Homes in this area (with a Residential 1 heritage zoning) need careful design. This was not a highly decorated bungalow to start with but it was important not to muck the exterior form around too much," says John, who lives in the same street and has designed a number of neighbouring renovations.

More than 50 truckloads of clay had to be moved from the site. This enabled the two-storey home to be lifted and moved forward to create the footprint for the now three-storey home that defines Ray's life on and off the water.

Downstairs there is now double-car garaging and tandem space for Ray's Moth sailing dinghy, a large studio/media room with kitchenette, a bedroom that gets natural light via a European-style light well and bathroom/en suite.

Ray's landlocked bolthole is his professionally soundproofed music studio where his bass guitar lives and where he and his bandmates can, as he puts it, "have a bit of a hack" without disturbing the family.

The mid-level entertainment and living areas include the new integrated kitchen and family living area that opens to the rear deck and garden.

John Hill specified the vaulted ceiling in the kitchen to avoid the area becoming one long corridor. "There's not too much formality here," he explains. "Instead, there are lots of socialising spaces, more so than in older homes."

John's insistence on a well-proportioned hallway into the new ground floor area completed what Ray calls an easy kind of living throughout. "Walking downstairs into a tight space can feel really crummy," says the architect.

Timber shingles on the gables and chimney with its bungalow-style flared base tied the whole house together in a style that Ray likens to American Cape Cod.

Now Ray is turning his on-shore attention to a new renovation project, with fond memories of this home that he refers to as "a brilliant lock-up-and-go-away house".