This family dwelling has a wonderful ease to it that was well worth the wait.
Like a good cup of coffee, Rebecca and Paul Hawthorn gave the redesign of their Auckland home time to percolate. The couple spent five years imagining how to transform its 1970s layout to meet the needs of modern family life, until last year, when they were ready to begin the major makeover, stripping the two-storey home of its dated features, switching the living area from upstairs to ground level and adding a new pavilion-style wing.
“The layout was all wrong for how we wanted to live,” says Rebecca. “The main living was upstairs, which was a nightmare when the kids were little because they always wanted to be outside and it was difficult to keep an eye on them from inside.”
Rebecca and Paul have created their own private oasis. “I really wanted the home to have a flow from the inside out,” says Rebecca. Previously the living area was positioned to take advantage of the harbour views. One of the benefits of getting to know the site well before renovating was that they realised they could have ground-floor living and retain their view of Rangitoto. “We’ve ended up with the best of both worlds,” says Paul.
The entrance remains in the same spot, but the main living area is housed in the new north-facing addition that catches all-day sun. The sudden expansion of the generous living area from the entryway often catches visitors off guard. “Everyone enjoys the surprise when they come around the corner into this space,” says Paul.
This area leads to a resort-style garden and swimming pool, and when the doors are open there’s a seamless connection between inside and out. “I love that I can be at the kitchen bench and watch my kids in the pool,” says Rebecca. “And they love being able to run inside to grab something to eat before heading back out to play.”
The interior is sophisticated and glamorous, but relaxation and practicality are also strong themes. Making a comfortable home for their children Isabella and Miller was key for the couple. There are times when the house is immaculate, and days when it has a more laid-back, lived-in look. “We want it to have a relaxed vibe that suits our family life,” says Rebecca. “I wanted to create a place where the children were happy to bring their friends, and so far it’s working really well.”
When Rebecca and Paul are entertaining, the children can retreat upstairs to their own relaxation zone to gather in the playroom on the oversized sofas for pizza and movies while the adults crank up the music and dim the lights downstairs. “Having [spaces that work] so well for both adults and children is one of my favourite parts of our home,” says Rebecca.
The couple worked with architect Paul Clarke from Studio2 Architects, but brought a lot of their own ideas to the table. “He was our second architect – because the first one didn’t want us closely involved in the project,” says Rebecca. “Paul was great – he took our ideas and then added his magic to them. We love what we’ve ended up with.”
This is the second renovation for the couple; their first project together was giving a new lease of life to a bungalow in Onehunga. “Paul and I work really well together,” says Rebecca. “He’s not your average builder – he’s actually a gifted designer who can imagine how something will look, and he’s got the talent to build it as well.”
The pair enjoyed the process so much they reckon they have a few more renovations in them. “But,” says Rebecca, “for now, we just want to enjoy what we’ve created here.”
Words Leanne Moore/Cave Bureaux
Photography Helen Bankers/Cave Bureaux