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Lush red carpets, heavy drapes and painted walls add warmth to this renovated 104-year old Edwardian house


Heritage renovation projects offer special challenges to those who are prepared to take them on. These challenges often extend past the structural into the tactile, with the decisions that need to be made on colours, furnishings, drapes and carpets.

Sue and John Sweetman renovated this 20-room Edwardian residence over seven years. First built in 1901, it was converted into five apartments in 1917 – one, notably rented for many years by Jean Batten's father, has been transformed into the Batten Suite.

Sue Sweetman says research into the original style of the house was done through books and by looking at other buildings from a similar period.

"Because the house was destined to be a B & B we wanted maximum light and warmth to create an inviting atmosphere," she says. "The use of lush reds throughout the home gives this effect. There are echoes of red in almost every room."

The Sweetmans, who largely completed all renovations themselves with the assistance of experts as required, say it was initially easy to see what needed doing. The difficulty lay in working out how to do it.


"It was a matter of removing the previous unsympathetic renovations, such as an asbestos wall in the kitchen, a partition wall between two bathrooms, and the four kitchens that serviced the apartments."

Essential improvements such as modernising electricity and gas were hampered by the lime rendered, solid brick walls. Once these were done it was a matter of working through the house and remodelling and restoring the rooms, she says.

Antique furniture was sourced, existing white painted joinery was stripped back to its natural appearance, kauri floorboards were restored and walls painted.

The carpets in the hall, with a distinctive medallion design, are from English carpet manufacturer Brinton Carpet. Other rooms in the house have either Iranian tribal or Indo-Persian rugs on the floor, introducing lush textures and intricate patterns to the house.

To maintain warmth, heavy custom-made drapes are used throughout the house. The red drapes in the main living area are made from double-sided velvet and resemble theatrical drapes, says Sweetman. As a projector is used in this room for entertainment, the drapes also serve the purpose of blocking ambient light.

Credit List

ArchitectGraeme Burgess
BuilderDave Christie
CladdingLime render over brick
RoofMarseilles tiles
FlooringOriginal kauri floorboards
Window and door joineryRestored with Coopers System
Window treatmentsTeresa Cairns at the Auckland Drape Company
Carpets and rugsCarpet from Brintons, rugs from Haaghis
WallcoveringsResene Paints
LightingRecollections Ponsonby
FurnitureBeds from Bedpost; front lounge furniture from Early Settler; other antique pieces sourced by owner
Shower fittingsGrohe from LG Carder and Mico Bathrooms
BathsOriginal resurfaces by Nuglaze Resurfacing
Basin and taps, toiletCaroma Vintage from LG Calder
Hotwater systemBosch Hi-Flow

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