Renovation creates large open-plan living space and opens interior to the backyard

This home renovation emphasises natural materials and sustainability with the wrap-around living area feature in recycled wood left over from the upgrade

Story by: Charles Moxham Photography by: Stephen Goodenough
Renovation creates large open-plan living space and opens architecture, ceiling, daylighting, estate, flooring, hardwood, home, house, interior design, living room, real estate, wood, wood flooring, brown
Renovation creates large open-plan living space and opens interior to the backyard

The owners’ request to keep within theoriginal modest 119m2 footprint for the renovation of this late 1950s weatherboard home meant designer Jason Higham of Higham Architecture had to closely consider the use of every metre of space.

“Typical of the time, the existing house had good bones, but the room layout was disjointed and there was little regard for sun or flow to outdoor living,” says Higham. “For example, the entry had been confusing and the kitchen was positioned on the dark side of the home.”

Another key aspect of the renovation was that one of the owners is a natural health practitioner and sustainability was an important part of the brief – from selection of natural, untreated products to the use of recycled timber and natural stone.

“The project had be environmentally and ethically responsible in every way, with waste minimised and, where possible, materials salvaged from removed parts of the existing house. For example, the wood for the feature timber wall and ceiling wrap that extends over the dining table all came from the existing house in some form."


"Whether stud wall framing, tile battens, skirting boards or door frames, any untreated timber – mostly rimu – that could be reused was, often in a fresh way.”

As another example of green reuse, the galvanised steel splashback is made from old roof trays from the flat back porch roof.

“From a layout perspective, removing several internal walls enabled us to create a large, family-friendly, open-plan living, kitchen, dining and study space that also links to a new deck at the rear of the home. Relocating the kitchen to the sunnier side of the home was a key part of the redesign and led the rethink of the wider space.”

Plus, Higham’s addition of a new full-height glazed door between the entry and resited kitchen means the latter now has a better connection to the front of the home and the flow is more intuitive generally.

This major renovation places a strong emphasis on countertop, floor, flooring, hardwood, house, interior design, kitchen, real estate, room, wood, wood flooring, gray, brown
This major renovation places a strong emphasis on natural materials and sustainability. The wrap-around wall and ceiling feature was made from recycled wood freed up by the refit.

“Rather than choosing a U-shaped or island bench kitchen, we opted for a design that incorporated the dining area,” Higham says. “This arrangement creates an easy connection between the cook and family at meal times, and has the other big advantage of making the entire area feel significantly larger than it actually is.”

With the kitchen on show to the dining area and lounge beyond, much of its messy functionality is tucked away out of sight. The dishwasher is integrated and drawers were chosen for their superior accessibility over cupboards, including at the kitchen’s internal corner and in the adjacent pantry.

When in use, the shower looks like a bathroom, floor, flooring, interior design, room, sink, tile, wood flooring, gray, black
When in use, the shower looks like a normal glass enclosure. But it has two doors, which can both be swung back to the shower wall when the shower is not in use, giving a greater sense of spaciousness to the modest size bathroom.

“While the bathroom remained in its original place this was another tricky focus in terms of space. A shower was a must, but the owners didn’t want this set over a bath for safety reasons. So the tub was taken out, gaining valuable floor space.”

To free-up even more room, Higham designed a shower stall with doors that fold back into the corner. Large, flowing floor and wall tiles, recessed mirror cabinets and a discreet channel drain in the shower, all add to the room’s feeling of spaciousness.

With many areas reorganised, opened up and improved in terms of both their flow and functionality, the home is now a perfect fit for its growing young family.

Jun 13, 2018

Credit list

Renovation, kitchen and bathroom designer
Jason Higham, Higham Architecture
Pine weatherboards
Window joinery
Double-glazing of existing timber windows in Metro Performance Glass
Laminex Laminam, from Europica Tiles
Kitchen cabinetry
Plywood, blond finish, rimu accents
Neolith porcelain slab, from CDK Stone
Robiq double bowl, from Heritage Hardware
Electrolux pyrolytic, from Harvey Norman Commercial
Sirius undermount rangehood
Bathroom vanity
Recycled rimu face panels
Caroma Contura 530 Inset, from Edward Gibbon
Shower stall
Glass and hardware by Metro Performance Glass; Marmox floor substrate and drain by Warmup
Trends International Design Awards Renovation – Winner
Grant Shadbolt Building Solutions
Corrugated Colorcote ZinaCore, from Roofing Industries; Ardex Butynol membrane, from Ardex
Main flooring
Norman Ellison Carpets wool carpet, from Floorpride Rangiora; Foreverbeech timber flooring, from Hardie & Thomson
The Natural Paint Company, Resene
Cabinetry hardware
Blum, stainless steel pulls
Kitchen flooring
Foreverbeech Heritage Red Beech timber floor with clear oil finish, from Hardie & ThomsonSplashback: Recycled steel roof trays, clear finish
Methven Tahi sink mixer, from Edward Gibbon
Induction cooktop and dishwasher
Fisher & Paykel
Vanity top
Neolith porcelain slab, from CDK Stone
Methven Tahi, from Edward Gibbon
Vitex decking, from Herman Pacific





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