The owners of this serene Auckland villa are hardworking professionals with two active young girls and yet their home, painted in ethereal white and fern green, seems to cast a calming spell.
The white cladding, interior and exterior, is painted with Resene Merino and Resene whitewash and makes you feel like you’re hiding under a cozy blanket. The good vibes continue as you follow the winding flagstone path into the garden where you will see butterflies perching on purple verbena and bees buzzing over salvia.
Yet despite its environmental harmony, it is a house of contrasts.
A ‘mule’ style building – partly traditional villa, partly modern extension – it shouldn’t work, but it does. Last year, the home won the Maestro Award for Resene Total Color Residential Exterior Color for its use of color.
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When Kat and her husband bought the house 10 years ago, it wasn’t the serene space she is today. A friend, who had also visited the open house, described the dilapidated 1910s villa as “abandoned.”
Kat wouldn’t go that far: “Surrender is a bit hard, but the old maid needed a lot of love.” Needed insulation, new paint and the windows wouldn’t close, but they loved it anyway. And the renovation was still part of the plan.
But on the first night at their “new” home, Kat’s dreams of renovating the old house literally faltered.
“I thought it would be romantic to walk into the house the first night we owned it and camp out sleeping on an air mattress. But it was freezing cold, and the inflatable mattress fell flat in about two hours. So we left the house in the middle of the night and returned to our rental.
Cash strapped and “mortgaged to the hilt” the couple made some temporary renovations – just enough to make the villa habitable. They fixed holes, painted walls, and installed insulation, and Kat paid $ 100 for a used kitchen.
They sketched the plans for a future extension on the back of an envelope. Eight years and two children later, when the mortgage hit an acceptable level, they made their dreams come true.
But they didn’t know where to start, so they consulted Strachan Group Architects (SGA). The advantage of not rushing into the extensions was that the family had been able to spend time “mapping” the parts of the house in which they lived the most.
“We observed which rooms we spent time in. We love to entertain, but we recognized that there were often four of us. It was not a priority to create entertaining spaces. We noticed that we needed small areas around the house to read, work and play games, ”says Kat.
The architects listened to their comments and politely tossed the couple’s envelope designs away.
They came back with a 60 square meter extension which was a modern version of a lean-to. The new living room is connected to the original villa by a narrow connecting utility room. The sleek design meant that the roof of the villa didn’t need to be touched.
Color was one of the ways the architects created synergy between the two disparate spaces. Rather than matching the extension to the original home, they used contrast to create cohesion and coziness.
Resene Whitewash was not only used outdoors, but also in the new indoor lounge. The whitewash highlights the grain of the wood, which gives the larch a natural look.
Kat was initially unsure of the perspective of white on the exterior and interior wood. “We didn’t want it to look like a home show; we don’t live like that, ”but she accepted the idea when she learned that the color of the exterior wood would age and wear off over time.
The architects suggested dark green for the villa’s exterior, but Kat wasn’t sure about the bold color yet.
“They suggested green, but I wasn’t very confident. I continued to suggest gray, but the architects very politely said no. They told me that traditionally villas were much more colorful. So, as a first step, we opted for Resene linKat said.
Painting was in progress when Kat realized it still wasn’t right.
“I walked past the house and realized it looked way too bright. I panicked and ran to the Resene ColorShop. I suggested gray again, but they calmed my nerves, and they suggested the darker shade, Resene Siam.
“When I had the chance to travel to Europe in the past. I was walking down the street and seeing purple and lime colored houses, and it was so happy.
The interior color choices further tie the villa and the extension. Resene Merino is used on the walls of most bedrooms, and Resene Cabbage Bridge on the bathroom ceiling connects the exterior color to the interior.
The design of the house was put to the test last year. Zoom reunions and Zoom schooling allowed the family to put the areas to good use.
“We had a Zoom schedule so that everyone could try to find some quiet for our video calls. It was hysterical; one day there were nine meetings on the schedule. My daughter went on the trampoline for one of her lessons, ”says Kat.
“The house has worked very well. We are really grateful for what we have and it brings us a lot of happiness.
The family garden, designed by Zoë Carafice for Xanthe white design, is also planted with areas and trails.
“There’s hardly any lawn, and that doesn’t seem like the best use of space, but the girls actually use and play in the garden a lot,” Kat says.
The garden is planted with bee- and butterfly-friendly plants such as ‘black knight’ salvia and verbena bonariensis.
There is also a rain garden near the outdoor seating area designed to alleviate water flowing from the roof. The rain garden connects to the storm water drain and has layers of sand, cobbles, mulch and an overflow system. A rain chain encourages water to flow into the garden from the roof.
Canna ‘plume’ is planted on top and the peach-colored flowers blend into the soft color Resene Woodsman Whitening cladding. Consult your city council before installing a rain garden – consents may be required.
Choose the right Resene colors and paints for the job.
The house is clad in Siberian larch, which has lasting qualities similar to cedar, but with a more gnarled appearance. Resene Woodsman Whitewash showcases the beautiful grain, while protecting the wood.
For a deeper wood stain, Resene Waterborne Woodsman is available in a range of shades, including Resene CoolColour to reflect more warmth in darker colors.
Pat de Pont of SGA Architects encourages her clients to use bright colors for the villas. “I think there is a misconception that white or off-white is a traditional color for villas. The reality is that the original colors of these buildings were much bolder and the paint technology at the time favored rich earthy colors, ”he says.
“Instead of choosing individual elements of the exterior of the villa in different colors like the Victorians would have done, we kept the mix simple with a block of color and contrasting window and door frames. We used Resene Siam on the planks, Resene Double Sea Fog for the doors and windows, and Resene Gravel for anchoring the steps. “
If you want to recreate a palette of yesteryear, the Resene Heritage color chart is a handy place to start choosing colors inspired by traditional color palettes. Order a Resene Heritage charter free online, or pick up a copy from your Resene ColorShop or reseller.
While the exteriors of the house are painted in contrasting tones, to unify the interior, most of the walls in the villa and its extension are the same shade – Resene Merino. The slatted ceiling in the new living room is a nod to the details of the villa’s ceiling and is painted to complement it in Resene Half Merino.
This article first appeared in Habitat which is produced by Resene.