Grass is Greener

Mary Daish provides an unexpected solution to a Wellington family of five’s space woes.

Grass is Greener

Mary Daish provides an unexpected solution to a Wellington family of five’s space woes.

We all know the story: a family with growing children finds their home suddenly bursting at the seams. Deciding to renovate, they employ an architect – enter Mary Daish – and explore means of adding space. But here’s where our plot deviates from the norm. After examining options within the family’s existing bungalow, and taking note of site restrictions, Daish still felt they’d be a bit tight on space. That’s when the clients caught wind their neighbours were thinking of selling. “They asked me to look at the house with them as an alternative to going ahead with the alterations to their current home,” says the architect, “and I agreed it would be better to make the shift.” So they did.

Almost twice the size of their existing home, the 1928 arts-and-crafts-style house offered the space the family needed, but it required work. It had already undergone renovations by the previous owners, but the changes didn’t suit the needs of a young family. Rather than making their alterations straight away though, Daish encouraged the clients to move in. “So often our first hunches are different to what we actually need,” she explains. “You need to live in a home first.” Roughly a year later, they knew what was required.

Their first target was the contorted entryway. Initially arranged in a zig-zag that narrowly weaved past the stairs to a combined laundry-bathroom, the redesign has created a more gracious welcome. The bright, open entrance is lined with pale tongue-and-groove timber and cleverly uses glazing to delineate the public and private spaces beyond. A glass slider guides you through to the kitchen and living areas, while the bathroom and laundry are hidden behind a frosted door.

In the kitchen, where a U-shaped bench previously hindered any natural flow to the living and dining areas, Daish unfolded the kitchen against the wall and introduced a central island, both fitted with Blum Legrabox drawers. Collaborating with interior designer Anita Fijn, the pair introduced a restrained palette of natural tones and textures. “I always think of materials like ingredients in food,” explains Daish. “About three different flavours is probably enough.”

Subtle, intelligent touches serve family life. Like the curved corner of the kitchen bench that allows people to pass by easily. Or the abundance of storage tucked away in the living areas and laundry in a considered mix of internal drawers and open shelving. “Before, there was no storage. Everything was overflowing,” says Daish. The window seat in the family room is particularly nice. Fitted with drawers using Blum Movento runners, you’d never suspect that it’s there to compensate for windows that “couldn’t be moved due to fire-rating restrictions”.

Thankfully, the side of the house wasn’t limited by such stringent rules, so a new deck was added. Attached to the family room by tall sliding doors, it opens the home to the outside and afternoon sun. The doors also provide a link to the original home. “There were some really nice things done to the house by the previous owners, so we picked up on those to try and develop a sympathetic language,” explains Daish. It’s worked. The home finds an easy balance between old and new; a cohesive and calm setting for the chaos of family life.



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