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Alterations to a character home in Epsom


Designed in 1908-09 by British-trained architect, Benjamin Charles Chilwell, this home shows influences of the Arts and Crafts Movement and other European architectural trends.

When our clients approached us to assist with alterations to bathroom, toilet, laundry and kitchen facilities and to improve the light quality to the interior, they were already aware of the significance of their house.

Having studied photographs and documents held by the University of Auckland architectural school archives and acquired from a previous owner, memoirs compiled by the son of the original owner describing the various rooms and their functions as he recalled from his childhood, they were very mindful of the need to carry out their alterations with appropriate sensitivity.

Successive generations had overlaid significant, and sometimes inappropriate, alterations to the house, especially in the interior. The stair had been altered to incorporate a new handrail arrangement and it was also suspected that original T&G timber wall panelling had been removed. Certainly all but two of the original ceilings had been replaced by fibrous plaster ceilings.

Externally, the original porch with its elegant semi-circular opening and adjoining sidelights had been replaced by a gabled porch jutting out from the eastern face of the house over the former splayed entry steps.



The open double-storey verandah had been filled in at the upper level to provide more living space and, at ground level, had been replaced by a pergola and sunroom. The original iron roof had been covered over with decramastic roof-tiles.

The client’s brief included reinstatement of character features such as the original cupboard under the stairs, improvements to the existing stair balustrade detail, installing wooden panelling in the foyer and stairs, and opening up the double-storey verandah to restore its 1909 appearance.

Salmond Reed carried out an assessment of the very few remaining original features in the house to guide the successful restoration of the stair and ceilings to more closely resemble the original style. The joinery details involved in opening up the closed-in verandah were carefully researched and adapted to satisfy modern code requirements.

During the course of the project it was also decided to restore that most significant external feature of the house, the beautifully proportioned curved porch entry.

Future re-covering the roof with corrugated iron will complete a successful adaptation which satisfies modern living requirements, whilst maintaining a sensitive regard for the building’s heritage character.

Take the next step in restoring your heritage building: contact our experienced team to discuss your project.

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