When Anne Kelly and Karl Wipatene of a.k.a Architecture set out to rework the old kitchen extension in this grand villa in Newtown, Te Whanganui-a-Tara, one thing was abundantly clear: they wouldn’t be short of space. The original box addition stretched seven metres behind the home but was poorly planned. Connected via a single door, the cavernous space harboured a squat rimu kitchen along one side and no discernible link to its neighbouring dining room or the outdoors. At some stage, an old lean-to had also been tacked on to serve as a washing room.
The clients, who were living in Berlin with their two children at the time, intended to start fresh by replacing the extension with a modern two-storey addition. But after costs and constraints were examined, the architects formed a resourceful new plan. “We took a step back and thought, can we relook at this and replan it instead?” explains Kelly. “Let’s reinhabit the space.”
The renovation doesn’t try to emulate the grand villa’s aesthetic or era. It mirrors the home’s high-quality finish but finds its footing firmly in the now; a contemporary reset that centres around a stretching kitchen island. Shrouded in a soft grey, the worktop, splashback wall and bulkhead are all Italian porcelain, while the timber joinery below has been painted to match. Taller units reflect the natural oak finish that resonates throughout the home, bringing warmth and texture to the space. Tucked behind the kitchen, a laundry/utility room has been incorporated into the extension after the old lean-to was demolished.
Integrating the contemporary design into an existing shell called for considerations and compromise. “Because it was a reasonably minimal aesthetic, we had to hide or preplan things,” Kelly explains. They also needed to form a more purposeful connection to the courtyard, so the ineffective French doors were retired in favour of a full-height glass slider. However, other original elements have been preserved. The old, conservatory-style window remains a focal point, flooding the space with light and serving as a welcome link to the villa.
The owners’ time abroad influenced many design decisions. The high stud is reminiscent of their Berlin apartment, and the terrazzo flooring was inspired by styles seen overseas. “It also became a good solution to cover the tiled mess originally there,” adds Kelly. “And allowed us to introduce underfloor heating.” A set of tall doors modelled off their European home now links the kitchen to the previously underutilised dining room. Though initial plans called for a simple internal slider, the new “French-German doors”, as Kelly refers to them, act as a fitting tribute to their time away. A bay window seat finishes the room and creates an intimate moment in the once formal space.
It must be rare that a renovation reduces a home’s footprint, but by reinhabiting the old addition with intelligent direction, a.k.a Architecture has delivered a modern kitchen that (unlike its predecessor) is set to stand the test of time.