Evelyn McNamara Architecture’s Glendowie House makes spending time together a real luxury
Her clever design details are supported by a suite of Fisher & Paykel appliances selected very early on in the process. Find out why…
Slip into the spa at this breathtaking waterfront property and you’re practically at eye level with the ocean. Behind you, a thoroughly modern home for a thoroughly modern family rises towards the sky — a very special dwelling that reads like luxury yet champions everyday functionality and togetherness.
Designed by architect Evelyn McNamara and built by Graham Mauger Builders for a tight-knit family of five, the three-storey, five-bedroom masterwork is structured to make life easy and enjoyable, invite conversation and create cherished memories. It’s replete with inspired details that encourage connection and make its inhabitants feel like they’re on holiday at home — thoughtfully tailored inclusions like the four queen beds in the bunkroom that enable Mum, Dad and daughters to camp out in it together for fun. There are trios of work stations in the office and basins in the girls’ bathroom so they can stay side by side; utilities that take the effort out of housekeeping; a pool table and table tennis in the downstairs living space opposite the salt-water spa and infinity pool…
“It’s a resort,” says Evelyn.
Located in the Auckland suburb of Glendowie, this coastal site is steep. In order to maximise the usable space and outlook, Evelyn spread the floorplan across three levels eloquently realised through earthworks that also allowed the lower tier to sit partially in the ground, concealing it to give the home a more subtle, two-storey appearance on arrival. The entryway on this central level leads you on a journey that visually softens as you travel from the dark, angular exterior of the house through a Japanese-style garden by John Helyar of The Tree Place with a cut-out roof. From here, you step into the honeyed glow of the cedar-lined main portion of the home, moving past a laundry, office and powder room and into the main kitchen/dining/living space. Upstairs are the main bedrooms and bathrooms, while downstairs there’s a second living room, a second laundry and the bunk/guest room.
The kitchen offers fine examples of the ways in which this home brings the family closer. Three seats tucked into the island mean there’s a spot for each child to sit and discuss their plans for the day in the morning and debrief after school. They also love to cook, and this large space has room for three budding chefs to get involved without feeling crowded.
Appliances by Fisher & Paykel were integral to the kitchen’s design, both for their high-tech specs and their ability to sit seamlessly within the scheme, an approach Evelyn takes to ensure a minimal backdrop that can instead be filled with the more personal objects that make a house a home. Case in point is the fridge ingeniously integrated not into cabinetry but into the cedar-panelled wall that wraps around from the entryway. Responding cleverly to the brief, it’s also positioned at the edge of the space to increase its accessibility from the adjacent dining and living areas.
Evelyn advocates locking in the appliances early on in the design process, “so it seems like they’re designed for that space, nothing’s an afterthought, and you don’t suddenly decide you want a wine cabinet somewhere and ruin the composition to get there. It comes back to the idea of curating spaces according to how people want to live in them.”
Catering impressively to this family’s busy lifestyle, another of the bespoke features that makes this dwelling exceptional is the chute that runs from the top of the stairs on the second floor down to the first floor laundry, where Fisher & Paykel appliances once again became key players in the layout. Dual washing machines and a matching heat pump dryer make light work of the many weekly loads required by this sporty crew, and there’s a clothesline positioned on a deck just outside that’s drenched in all-day sun. The second laundry on the ground floor takes care of pool towels and gives guests staying in the bunkroom greater independence. They can also use this laundry as a kitchenette, and help themselves to refreshments from the Fisher & Paykel wine cabinet, which comes equally in handy for the family when entertaining around the pool.
“I think laundries should make you feel good,” says Evelyn. “Laundry is one of those things we all do so often, but rarely do we get to enjoy the space we do it in. Providing a laundry that’s less of a cupboard and has good natural light, a well-considered material palette and highly functional details like a hanging rail for more delicate items turns a chore into something much more enjoyable.”
There’s not much that can’t be enjoyed at this address, and Evelyn says its occupants have nothing but praise for how well it’s working for them. “They’re really celebrating spending time together. In this fast-paced world, creating opportunities to relax with family and friends has become even more important. I hope this house continues to offer that for this family.”