New Zealand Home & Building, October-November 1985
The Pink Palace
You might not give this Epsom home a second glance when you drive past its front face, but when you catch it from the rear you're bound to do a double take. Once a home ordinaire, now a veritable pink palace, it just goes to show what architectural possibilities exist for the humble, but limited, New Zealand bungalow.
Painted pink this bungalow dares to be different. So did owners Jo and John Philpott.
When they enlisted the help of architect Mal Bartleet of Artifice, to design massive alterations to their two-bedroom-home they had few rules. They let Bartleet create, confident that he would come up with a design blending the old with the new.
The result is magic — a dramatic transformation which is as artistic as it is practical, turning a small spaceless house into a bright lively home.
When Jo and John bought the bungalow in 1977 it was dark and dim. Cosy enough in the front north-east facing room, the rest of the house had a tight cluttered feel, accentuated at the rear where the kitchen, dining, a sunroom and laundry had all been crammed into limited space. Incredibly the kitchen had barely one metre of bench space.
Recalls Jo: "The house was so dull you just couldn't describe it. We had to have the lights on most of the day in winter."
Externally the house also fell down badly at the back. It finished abruptly with a steep, flat wall, had pokey windows which totally ignored views to be had, and a steep set of steps discouraging use of the large tree-filled backyard.
Years later with two toddlers in two, the shortcomings of the house became more blatantly obvious. Says Jo: "Suddenly the house just seemed so small, especially with the children wanting to be wherever you are."
In their brief to architect Bartleet, Jo and John outlined the practical requirements of alterations but left all aesthetics to him.
"We weren't nervous about it being innovative," says Jo. All they stipulated was that there be a double garage with deck overhead, a main bedroom on a new upper level and an area downstairs where guests and older children could be entertained.
Jo: "The main concern was that the design cover our family needs from babyhood through to teens. Mal had no children and we were a little wary that he could cater to those needs. But from the way he designed it you would think he had 10 kids.
"The transition is just incredible. We really didn't believe he would come up with anything so imaginative yet livable. We also wondered how he would blend such a large new area, but he coped beautifully."
In his design, Bartleet replaced the bland, tight back of the house with an open sunny addition. On the main level it provides an upgraded living/ kitchen/dining area; above a new master bedroom, and below as-yet-uncompleted guest rooms opening direct on to the proposed patio/ pool area.
From the road frontage the addition is barely noticeable, the roofline of the new structure mimicking the old. Glance down the drive and you get your first idea of the extent of the work. Halfway down the weatherboards give way to massive dramatic panels of tinted glass, throwing the north face open to the beaming sun. Extending out from the house is the requested garaging and deck, again basking in the warmth.
Move to the back of the house and the full extent of the design hits home. The pastel pink structure exploding out into the section, the rear facade full of interest.
It is this view which similarly most pleases Bartleet. He explains: "My approach to villas and bungalows is that they have a certain formality about them from the front which I try to retain. But they loosen up at the rear and that's where I feel are the opportunities to blast them apart."
Bartleet explained that many homeowners were wary about doing anything too dramatic to bungalows. The fact that the Philpotts encouraged creativity made the job particularly satisfying.page break page 78
His main objective was to loosen up the house. "We wanted to get as much sunlight and outlook as possible and free up the living area while retaining elements of formality. Afterall you can't deny what's already there."
He maintained the bungalow theme in the pitch of the roof and other touches including the use of bays at the rear.
To create interest he used a layering of styles, a mixture of materials, producing a facade which projects and recedes. The fact that the rear was so high to begin with, and that the Philpotts wanted an additional storey could have been a problem.
But, said Bartleet: "The rear elevation was so high already I wasn't afraid to accentuate it." This he did by adding a turret-like deck off the master bedroom which stands out majestically, trimmed in a deeper candy pink.
But the most dramatic feature of all is the wall of glass. Says Bartleet: "That was the aspect I had most misgivings about. But I felt if I was going to do it, it had to be done in grand style."page 79
Internally, it is without doubt, that wall which catches visitors' attention.
From the dim hall guests are led through a simple white door, beyond which the house appears to come to life. Instantly the eye is drawn to the glass panels casting huge beams of light across the shiny matai floor. Running diagonally across the glass are stairs leading above and below. Black tubular steel forms the railings. As light dances through the glass it is deflected by the railing creatiing intriguing patterns. The image is heavily modern yet somehow sits well amidst John and Jo's mix of old and new.
The ceiling in the new room retains the original timber beams. Against one wall sits the old large fireplace while on another a set of dainty cabinets has been resited.
Before the fireplace, cosy cane chairs meld with modern metal and black leather. And at the far end of the room an elegant dining table nestles in a large bay window framed in old candy-print curtains.
Colour has been well used to blend the old with the new. In the centre of the room a wall of emerald green accentuates the fireplace rather than hides it. From there the colour softens to a peppermint and into the pastels which dominate the kitchen/ dining area.
The overall effect is a warm, family feel, highlighted by the presence of a junior sized table and chairs in a second smaller bay window. Against the window is a clever touch, window seats which double as toy boxes.
The kitchen is adjacent to the kiddie's corner. Lying on the south-east of the house it would normally have been the darkest area but Mal's extensive use of glass together with Jo's choice of toning ensures it is light and bright.
It is here that Jo had most input into the design. A lover of natural timbers she might normally have gone for a country look kitchen but opted instead to maintain the soft modern theme with cabinets combining blonded tawa and laminate. The blush pink colour she chose serves well linking the interior with the exterior decks.
To tie the kitchen back to the strong northern face of glass she has added touches of black keeping the look soft yet modern.
Upstairs in the spacious new master bedroom, white dominates the decor. Rose pink carpet and touches of burgundy, together with Jo's exquisite white bedcover lend a romantic touch.
The feature of the room is a large curved bedhead providing shelf space for the couple's knick knacks. The structure has a far more subtle role, however, serving as a divider between the walk-in wardrobe and ensuite behind.
And for summer nights there is the couple's own private balcony offering views across the city.
One of the most intriguing aspects of this alteration is its size. The new living area together with its decks give an incredible feeling of spaciousness. Yet the land covered is identical to the original, a fact which must hearten those planning renovations to homes on small sections.page break