Familia Feeling

A sympathetic renovation returns this 1960s hilltop home in Ōtautahi Christchurch to its family-centric roots.

Familia Feeling

A sympathetic renovation returns this 1960s hilltop home in Ōtautahi Christchurch to its family-centric roots.

The week this mid-century house in Ōtautahi appeared on the market, its soon-to-be owners were preparing to lodge a building consent on a new family home. “I was looking forward to the beautiful house we had designed, so I flat out refused to go to the open home,” says one owner. But after being urged by her husband to “just take a look”, she caved. “As soon as I walked in the front door and was hit with that view – it was over.”

Perched on the ridgeline of Scarborough Hill with views that arc across the city, Kaikōura Ranges and Banks Peninsula headlands, the home was designed by Keith Mackenzie, of Hall & Mackenzie Architects, for his family. It’s a bastion of Christchurch modernism that had been excellently preserved by previous owners – but the place needed work. “We planned on living in it for a while before making big design decisions,” recalls the owner. “But we quickly realised the roof was shot and the upstairs bathroom was leaking.”

Things snowballed. The downstairs bathrooms, laundry and 90s-era kitchen were added to the to-do list. “Then we got pregnant again and suddenly needed another bedroom.” Cue a fresh extension with bedroom and extra garage. Working with Ingrid Geldof Design and Bridget Sullivan, they approached the renovations thoughtfully. “We wanted it to be sympathetic to the original design,” says the owner. “But it’s also our family home, so it had to be warm, comfortable and child-friendly.”


Retaining their original layouts, the bathrooms find a balance between respect and renewal, with fresh fittings, fixtures and coloured tiles. The kitchen was also gutted and rebuilt. An adjoining living room wall was removed to create a more family-orientated open plan. Banquette seating, a scullery with repurposed kitchen doors, and oak parquet flooring tie the space together.

In contrast, the double-height living area has stayed true to its original design. The main change was rehousing a wall-mounted TV in a light-grey USM Haller storage system. The era-appropriate piece fits naturally within the architecture, creating space for books, toys and a record player, which sits on a pull-out shelf for easy album exchange. Three further USM units work as bedside tables and storage in the main bedroom.

The renovations have honoured the home with thoughtful attention to detail. “We love the house and garden so much and wanted to do it justice,” says the owner. “We did it properly, so we can live here for the next 30 years.”




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