In 2010 our clients sought assistance in carrying out alterations to their century-old home in Epsom. The house was designed in 1908-09 by British-trained architect, Benjamin Charles Chilwell.
Over the years successive generations had made significant and largely inappropriate alterations to the house, especially in the interior, although the exterior too had not gone unscathed. The original porch with its elegant semi-circular opening and adjoining sidelights had been absorbed into the interior accommodation with cupboard space built in under the stair and a new gabled porch built 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 stripped away and replaced by a pergola and sunroom. The original iron roof had been covered over with decramastic roof-tiles and various other additions had been made to the house.
The interior, the original stair had been opened up and altered with a new handrail arrangement, while it was believed that plasterboard may have taken the place of original T&G wall panelling. All but two of the original ceilings in the house had also been removed and replaced with fibrous plaster ceilings.
When they came to us seeking assistance with their alterations, our clients were aware of the significance of their house, having already carried out some research into photographs and documents held by the architectural school archives at the University of Auckland to build on memoirs provided to a previous owner.
While keen to improve bathroom, toilet, laundry and kitchen facilities and improve the light quality to the interior, they were also very mindful of the need to carry out their alterations with appropriate sensitivity. Part of their brief included reinstating character features, such as the cupboard under the stairs, improving the existing stair and balustrade detail, installing wooden panelling in the foyer and stairs, and opening up the double-storey verandah to restore its 1909 appearance. As the scheme evolved, so did the enthusiasm of everyone involved in the project.
Now, with internal spaces re-arranged to better suit their current needs and a freshly redecorated house more closely resembling its original form. The result is a successful adaptation which satisfies modern living requirements, whilst maintaining a sensitive regard for the building's heritage character.