Modernising renovation creates open-plan living zone at rear of home

From retention tanks to digging the garage in under the house, a lot of behind the scenes work went into this expansive, lifestyle-changing renovation

​​​​​​​For this modernising renovation by Matt Brew Architect, backyard, estate, home, house, swimming pool, villa, gray, Matt Brew Architect, veranda, spa, play area
​​​​​​​For this modernising renovation by Matt Brew Architect, floating steps help keep everything feeling light and provide a degree of separation between the classic look rear veranda and the new pool, spa and play area. The ground drops away on one side of the pool effectively avoiding the need for a pool fence in that area. While the doors on the rear of the home are now larger, they’re also in keeping with the look of the classic white weatherboard facade.

It can be tricky finding the available space to meet your family’s expanding needs. Sometimes, however, the renovation gods are on your side. Prior to upgrade, this residence already sat high on the land, so the option of digging down without lifting the home up was a way forward.

This paved the way to the renovation of the grand traditional villa, says architect Matt Brew.

“The residence had had earlier work done, probably in the 1980s,” says Brew. “The interior was tidy but, typical of a home of this period, the rooms were enclosed, with the living, dining and kitchen all separate from each other.

“The house definitely needed modernising, with connections improved to the outdoors – and the garden also needed re-imagining. Plus, the garage had been sited to the rear of the back yard. The set-up wasn’t particularly liveable.”

To address this, the homeowners’ wanted to introduce an open-plan living/dining/kitchen space at the rear, connected to a new outdoor terrace suitable for entertaining.

“Before reworking any rooms in the home, we first brought the garage in under the house – digging out the ground rather than raising the house. This labour-intensive move had two major advantages,” says Brew. 

“Essentially, it reclaimed the use of the garden for the family and, along with the convenience of internal garaging, it also allowed for a downstairs guest suite and study.”

​​​​​​​The stone-clad island, perimeter benchtop and splashback have house, interior design, living room, villa, timber floor, stone island, kitchen, Matt Brew Architect
​​​​​​​The stone-clad island, perimeter benchtop and splashback have a strong presence in this modern, minimalist kitchen in a restored and renovated villa.

While this looks like a tidy design response, especially with the new garage worked into the home’s classic front facade, the project required a lot of digging and drainage, including installing retention tanks under the drive.

Existing rooms were reworked as part of the renovation – the master bedroom was moved to the front of the home and given a new ensuite and dressing room, while a new family bathroom was introduced to service the two children’s bedrooms and guest bedroom. Plus the old lounge was reworked as a media room.

“However, the biggest change was creating the new contemporary living zone and terrace."

“We built out the rear of the home to increase the area of the new kitchen-living-dining space and wrapped the side verandah around to the rear. This extended the footprint further and created a transition out to the terrace and pool.”

Much larger timber doors were added in this area to enhance the indoor-outdoor lifestyle and skylights were added to keep things light.

​​​​​​​While much of this outdoor area is concrete, architecture, home, house, reflection, swimming pool, villa
​​​​​​​While much of this outdoor area is concrete, the addition of a timber pool deck makes the space more child-friendly.

While there are cross-overs, such as classic kickboards seen in the now modern space, Brew did draw a subtle line between the old and new.

“As part of the project we freed up a sight-line right through the home from the front door out to the new rear pool and spa pool. Where the hall runs into the new living zone, a pocket slider with a classic decorative pattern can be drawn across for both heat and noise control.”

Also glimpsed as part of the home’s front-to-back-vista is the dramatic entertainer’s kitchen. While the veined Atlantic stone on benchtops and splashback makes a strong statement, the otherwise minimalist kitchen includes a hidden scullery and laundry, and a small study area concealed behind foldaway doors.

The terrace is set at mid level between the house floor level and the garden, to make for a comfortable transition between the two.

“Collaborating with Indigo Design’s Tomi Williams on interior finishes also lifted the project. Overall, we’ve created a more modern, spacious home, with a minimal extension to the rear. The exterior still looks traditional, but with the interior layout of a modern home.”

Credit list

Matt Brew Architect
Interior design
Tomi Williams, Indigo Design
Cabinetry design
Matt Brew
Painted timber weatherboard
Dark walnut stained kauri, from Freedom Flooring
Window/door hardware
from Halliday Ballie
Escea gas Fireplace
Dornbracht by Metrix
Fisher and Paykel
Kitchen cabinetry
2 pot lacquer, Resene Qtr Merino, low sheen finish
Atlantic stone
Bar stools
Oak tops with brass legs, custom by Indigo Design
Trends International Design Awards (TIDA) Homes – Winner
Swney Builders
Kitchen designer
Matt Brew in association with Indigo Design
Kitchen manufacturer
Optimum Furniture
Corrugated Colorsteel
Window/door joinery
Double glazed timber joinery by MIL Joinery
Kitchen sink
Ikon, stainless steel
Oven, stove, refrigerator
Waste unit
Island and perimeter – Atlantic stone, honed; raised end table – stainless steel, bead blasted
Pendant lights
Bramah pendant in bronze by Simon James Design
Outdoor furniture

Story by: Charles Moxham

Photography by: Jamie Cobel

23 Feb, 2019

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