Mount Eden Bungalow Renovation

A post-lockdown bungalow renovation in Mount Eden, Auckland

As Auckland went into lockdown several times during the COVID-19 pandemic, many people used the time to re-evaluate their home layout and how they use their space. Our client for this project was a family of four – two working parents and two school-aged children. After lockdown, they started looking for a larger home where they could continue to work from home some of the time, and where they could have “hang out” zones for their soon-to-be teenagers. Not being able to find exactly what they wanted by buying a new home in the area, they decided to renovate. That decision allowed them to stay in the area, which they loved, and create just what they had in mind for their dream home.

The Brief

The problem to resolve became crystal clear after spending all of their time at home during lockdown – the layout of the home wasn’t working. The house, a bungalow in Mount Eden, was only just starting to show its age. So while the appearance of the house wasn’t too bad, the size and layout needed improvement.
There were two other specific requests – our clients wanted a home with a swimming pool and a sauna. They had looked for a new home that fit the bill, but in the end, couldn’t find what they wanted. So we set out to update what they had, trying to incorporate the extra elements.

The bigger picture for the project included adding an additional/fourth bedroom, another bathroom (there was only one for a family of four!), creating some entertaining areas, and adding the pool and sauna. The family wanted a home that gave them some flexibility around entertaining, and that was big enough for working from home when required.

We had a complex process to go through with Council because this home falls within the Special Character Areas Overlay. While we were extending the home and modernising it somewhat by adding a sauna and pool, we needed to ensure we were preserving the special character of the home.

The Design

Because the house is an original bungalow that had previously been renovated and added to over the years, it had two separate porches, which the Council wanted us to keep. After some discussions and design approvals, we managed to gain Council permission to convert one of the porches into an en suite bathroom attached to the primary bedroom. So the main bedroom now has its own separate en suite with a hair and makeup station, a walk-through wardrobe, as well as the original window seat facing out to the private garden that gets the morning sun.

We pushed the front door out a bit into the other porch that was retained, which meant we added to the size of the home while at the same time maintaining one of the useful, covered entry porches.
Extending from the front door is a gorgeous wide entrance hallway that is typical of these old bungalows. We kept the beautiful appearance of it, but cleverly added some storage space that was desperately needed for shoes, coats, dog leads, etc. On the other side of that storage is the family’s new media room, which also has a built-in desk. This makes this a multi-purpose room that they can use for working, studying or chilling out.

The existing two bedrooms for the children were in good condition and didn’t need much work, so we rejuvenated them with a fresh paint job and new carpet. We added a fourth bedroom that has now given the family a great deal of flexibility in how they use their space – they have room for a home office or a place for the grandparents to stay when they visit.

We rearranged the existing main bathroom and added a bathtub because the kids love having a bath. We designed it with the users in mind and positioned it so they could have an iPad on the window sill or on the new shelving and watch movies from the bath. These may seem like small details, but they take into consideration how a family uses their home and makes everything even more functional and comfortable.
On the right side of the main hallway is a large lounge area, dining room and modern kitchen. We’ve given them a generous island and a window seat at the end. And what looks to be a floor-to-ceiling kitchen cupboard is actually a secret door to a scullery – giving them more prep and storage space.

All interior fit-outs were designed by us – including the walk-through wardrobe and cabinetry, kitchen cabinetry, scullery, laundry, linen cupboard, office nook, built-in desk, built-in shelving, window seat, etc. We took into consideration every detail of how this family might use every part of the home throughout the day.
The kitchen and dining area face north, so the family has a wonderful spot to enjoy in the afternoon, cooking or having a glass of wine while facing the new swimming pool and beautiful timber deck for entertaining.

Balancing form and functionality, sliding doors run the entire width of the kitchen/dining area so they can be kept fully or partially open while youngsters are outside or in the pool. We’ve used a frameless glass pool fence that adds to the beauty of the space.
One unplanned issue around the pool was Council’s insistence that we keep an existing dry stacked stone wall on the boundary, even though it wasn’t high enough to comply with the building code requirements for pool barriers. So we designed a more modern (and higher) wall to sit in front of it – one that better complements the look of the home.
On the northwest side of the house there is a section of lawn, a barbecue area and some outdoor seating that can be used to enjoy the evening sun. And on the other side of the pool and deck is a storage cabin and sauna.

We redesigned the laundry to make it more functional and moved it to the back of the house. You can come in from the pool through the back door and into the laundry – leaving wet towels there.

There were a few other intentional design details we included in this home. We deliberately kept some big blank walls in the dining and lounge area for their artwork to be hung, as they have some stunning, large pieces. Built-in shelving, seating and desks make each space multi-purpose. And we’ve included power points near the deck so they can charge a phone or have a speaker plugged in while watching the kids swim in the pool. We tried to think of all the ways we could make their lives easier while in and around their home.

The Result

Part of the brief from our client was that they wanted somewhere that was just like a little oasis away from the day-to-day kind busyness of life. So we incorporated elements in the design where we could create this feeling – window seats where they can sit and relax, and high ceilings that make the spaces feel bright and open. While we’ve maintained the special character of the bungalow, we’ve modernised it and increased its size quite substantially. The family now has an additional bedroom, bathroom, media room, pool, sauna, and more internal and external storage. There were a few surprises that came up, with this being an older home. As well as liaising with Council on behalf of our client for issues such as the front porch and the stone wall, we also had to rebuild some of the subfloor structure because it was very old and damaged. These are all details that we can’t plan for, but we prepare for the unexpected and manage the process for our clients so they don’t have to stress about these details.

In the end, they now have a beautiful home that is still in the neighbourhood they love and that they enjoy spending time in.

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