The Renovation Dream

The Renovation Dream add

As Kiwis, we have the DIY spirit hard-wired into our genes. We have a "fix-it" attitude that inspires us to take up the challenge of home renovation. It's that same attitude that lead to so many renovation entries in this year's ADNZ | Resene Architectural Design Awards.

One of 2014's big names at the awards was ADNZ Professional Member Kris Wilson of Design House Architecture - he picked up the Residential Alterations and Additions Award for 'Norton House,' his stunning conversion of a simple coastal home into a bold and elegant design.

As you can see in the before and after shots, the Coromandel Town home underwent a huge transformation. Kris says an innovative approach is required to seamlessly connect new ideas into the fabric of an old home. Before it became Norton House, he says the home did not appropriately respond to the uniqueness of the site, in particular the fantastic outlook.

"The success was taking a home that was dark and oblivious to its surroundings, and creating a series of spaces well balanced between thrusting forward for a connection with coastal surroundings and remaining sympathetic to the immediate site backdrop," says Kris.

Looking back to what it once was, Norton House is now unrecognisable. The 60's home has been transformed into a bright, open oasis among the bush, with large, expansive windows providing a sweeping view of the breath-taking Hauraki Gulf & Harbour views.

Kris says renovations are usually a good challenge. He says they provide the chance to take the best of what the past has to offer, and combine it with a modern approach.

"It's the opportunity to enhance the comfort and performance of old homes. Another motivation is the chance to reference or pay respect to the original, while crafting something more suited to today's lifestyles and technology."

When considering a house for renovation, Kris says it's important to take into account what you're left with once it's all stripped back.

"There can be that fine line with any renovation, you're going to have to compromise in some way. I always say to clients: what are we going to work with? What are we left with before we start going forward again? You sometimes picture them left with a floor and a couple of sticks of timber - you just have to be careful and think: what is the extent of the changes we are making, and is it viable within the project budget?"

Kris says another thing for would-be renovators to think about when considering a house for renovation is solar orientation. He says it should be one of the first things to look into, followed by the neighbourhood to make sure it's a worthwhile exercise.

"A house should have good bones - make sure it is structurally sound and weather tight. You've really got to look at outdoor connection potential as well. Too many people don't really think about that enough i.e. they might buy a two storey home with a very limited link to outside spaces. There are a few things you really have to think about before making any big decisions."

Kris says he believes renovations will always be popular, and they make up about a third of his work. He says he enjoys the challenge they provide, and while they can be a bit of a mixed bag, it's worth it when you see an end result as stunning as the transformation undergone by Norton House.

Kris will be touring New Zealand this week, along with international award winning architect Michael Ong, for the Young Guns seminar. To find out more information and to register your attendance visit the ADNZ website.