Along with the typical requests for renovating and extending this bungalow in Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland’s Western Springs, Sam Atcheson of Dorrington Atcheson Architects (DAA) received some more unusual ones. Budding young gymnast Bea (7) wanted carpet rather than timber floorboards in her bedroom (all the better to do handstands on) and her elder sister Florence (10) was adamant that the original large entry lobby stay that way. Why? For dancing in the hallway, of course.

Dorrington Atcheson Architects’ Mt View 2 renovation project

Dorrington Atcheson Architects’ Mt View 2 renovation project
TOP The front garden is bee-friendly, with a fragrant low hedge of star jasmine by the entryway and a Lagerstroemia fauriei Townhouse tree providing structure. The couple painted the weatherboards with Dulux Manorburn Half. ABOVE To the rear, the property drops away and the native garden is easy-care. It includes trees such as tītoki and groundcovers muehlenbeckia, leptinella and Fuchsia procumbens.  The addition is clad in whitewashed DuraLarch.

Those two wishes were easily granted, but their idea for a two-storey house (it’s not unusual for children to equate height with value) didn’t fit with the wider architectural programme. Their parents Kate van Praagh and Mike Burgess vetoed that submission when they briefed in more connection to the land.

Dorrington Atcheson Architects’ Mt View 2 renovation project
ABOVE American oak veneer battens in a walnut-hued stain lend a modernist edge to the kitchen that features Melteca Possum cabinetry, a velvet-finish benchtop made from Dekton Rem by Cosentino and Icon tapware by Astra Walker. The curved, built-in shelves are perfectly in keeping with the theme and Kate has  used them to display books and objects including (from top) a sake jug and cups, an Eames House Bird by Charles and Ray Eames for Vitra and a Japanese teapot. The ceramics continue in the other direction with a Flower vase by Author Ceramics on the end of the kitchen island.

The family moved into the three-bedroom 1922 bungalow that had been tenanted for some time six years ago, with their eyes on the prize of its central location. The exterior was painted green and  yellow, windows were cracked, and one day, in a storm, the neighbours came over to say there were bargeboards flapping off the roof. “The first thing we did was initiate Project Warm & Dry,” says Kate.
While they effected repairs with builders Maybeck Residential, they also tackled the bamboo monster that threatened to gobble up the garden. This was a major mission. The hedge was sending suckers under the house — never  a good thing — and when the elephants at the nearby zoo rejected the cuttings for being too fragrant, it was a formidable task to cut and grind down the stakes.

Dorrington Atcheson Architects’ Mt View 2 renovation project
ABOVE Above the table designed by Sam and teamed with Volt chairs by Pedrali from ECC and a Rosa bowl by Author Ceramics, a Leaves pendant light by Bolia from Slow ties in with other mid-century elements in the open-plan addition. With cabbage trees in the foreground, pittosporum along the back fence and a large oak on the ridge, the dining room is flooded with green. “If I could, I’d love to sit here all day every day, looking out at the changing colours through the seasons,” says Kate. S2 stools by Città tucked into the island give her another option.

Kate, who works as a general manager of sustainability, and Mike, a head of corporate affairs and sustainability, always knew they’d one day outgrow the compact weatherboard dwelling. On the plus side, the house was placed at the front of the 700m2  section and enjoyed great privacy. On  the downside, the land sloped steeply  away to the north-east.
It was Sam’s role to knit the built forms more effectively into the local landscape — both the grounds and the view. “We liked the elevation of the property,” explains Kate. “You can see the Sky Tower, and the twinkly lights of the neighbourhood at night.”

Dorrington Atcheson Architects’ Mt View 2 renovation project
ABOVE Crafted from walnut-stained American oak,  the door to the main bedroom stretches up 2.7m. Through it, a work by Fleur Wickes beckons. At this end of the shelves, Kate’s display includes (from top) a teapot featuring a 1930s London transport ad; a jug from Ibiza; blue, yellow and green vintage jugs sourced on various travels; and a penguin-shaped jug  from Argentina.

The existing hallway that once terminated abruptly in a bathroom became the central axis for the plan. Its open nature now continues down a set of stairs to a new kitchen, living and dining space and main bedroom suite. Include the north-facing deck and the footprint is effectively doubled to 206m2. “The layout of the new part is basically a square and it was just about arranging the functions for best  use,” says Sam.
A backdrop of greenery floods into the open-plan zone through floor-to-ceiling windows, and a sawtooth roof with clerestory glazing ushers in evening light. “The roof matches the pitch of the original house and grabs high-level views from the west,” says Sam.
Whereas before, Bea was squeezed into little more than an overgrown closet, the reconfigured spaces within the bungalow are now far more equitable. The girls’ bedrooms are almost the same size and a skylight in their bathroom elevates the experience, although Mum and Dad’s ensuite is often commandeered too.

Dorrington Atcheson Architects’ Mt View 2 renovation project

Dorrington Atcheson Architects’ Mt View 2 renovation project
 TOP Clerestory windows bring light into the new living room, where Label armchairs  and a Horizon coffee table from Città (with another bowl, Lilly, by Author Ceramics on top) set the mood. (The cushions are from Città too.) Next to Mike’s turntable (great for dad dancing) is an illustration by Peter Forsyth, and the gold foil hoops on the wall are by Annie Smits Sandano. ABOVE Using the original mataī floorboards, the wide entry hall is the central spine that links the old house with the extension. Engineered tongue-and-groove oak from Goodwood Timber Flooring has been laid in a herringbone pattern to meet it where the change of level follows the natural lay of the land.

Throughout the design-and-build process, the couple championed the cause of sustainability, repurposing where they could. Crafted by acquisitioning part of the original living room, the coat cupboard in the entryway reuses the door from the bathroom, and the lifted mataī floorboards now form the stairs down to the extension.
Although pandemic restrictions meant some of the pair’s choices were unavailable, they nevertheless prevailed in their eco-consciousness. They built around an existing tōtara, and added a water tank that’s used for the laundry, flushing the loos and irrigating the garden.

Dorrington Atcheson Architects’ Mt View 2 renovation project

Dorrington Atcheson Architects’ Mt View 2 renovation project
TOP The tile selection and towels by Baina connect the colours of the two bathrooms. In the ensuite, Touch of Linen tiles from The Tile People on the wall pair with the Marvel Calacatta Matt 60 tiles from Tile Space used on the floor in both spaces. A hint of glamour is achieved with a Milani heated towel rail from ABI Interiors and a Mini Glo Ball light by Flos from ECC. The Glory basin and Zero vanity are from Bath Co and the mirror was a Bunnings find. ABOVE Grace Emerald tiles from Artedomus are calming in the main bathroom, an internal room lit by a skylight and fitted with a Genesis towel ladder from Heirloom, Elysian tapware from Abi Interiors and a Tondo bath from Plumbline.

‘Soft’ and ‘natural’ are the keywords for the interior design. The warmth of wood is comforting alongside a palette of washed greys and greens, plus moments of pale pink. Parquet-style American oak flooring anchors the scheme and, in the kitchen, gentle green cabinetry pairs with walnut-stained battens on high-level cupboards and the island bench. “We  also added some curves to the island as it’s an object you walk around a lot,” says Sam.
The high pitch of the roof here adds to the spacious sensation, while built-in elements such as mid-century-styled shelving and window seats with extra storage keep the concept family-friendly.
Although the extension isn’t literally grounded, it fully fulfils the brief for connection, hovering above a pocket of bush where several tall trees bring the foliage to eye level. In this urban oasis, the owners are planting with a focus on the future. “We’re choosing resilient natives and plants that can soak up water, and I got rid of the lawn, which is better for biodiversity,” says Kate.

Dorrington Atcheson Architects’ Mt View 2 renovation project
ABOVE On the eastern elevation, the new form extends over the native planting, making the most of the elevated site, while a series of full-height windows with top-hung awnings maximise the view of the greenery that spills down the  hill. “We wanted resilient native plants here that could survive both very wet and very dry conditions,” says Kate. The kids love watching the tūī feed on  the harakeke flowers and seeing kererū dip and dive past.

In the living space, the couple are slowly layering up the elements according to a strategy that aligns with their values and involves buying to budget and only what they love. The rug is in shades of cream and brown to match their springer spaniel Rosie’s coat, and a collection of modernist jugs, including a sangria jug from Spain, a penguin-shaped wine jug from Argentina and a green one that was given to Kate at an Irish bar (are you sensing a theme?), is starting to populate the shelves.
There’s a niche in which to work, places to boogie and sing (although the children have banned ‘dad jams’), flexible rooms that adapt when needed, and the covered deck (“Without that shelter, it’d be either too hot or too rainy to enjoy,” says Sam) that’s a favourite place in which to sit and survey the suburban scene.
An homage to yesterday, a celebration  of today and a toast to tomorrow — this house will no doubt be the venue for many more dances to come. 

Words Claire McCall
Photography Simon Wilson

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