Turning a commercial building into a residential property is always an interesting project, but for the owners of this 1960s concrete block building, it was more rewarding than they ever imagined.
With wide open spaces and the two story high ceilings typical of commercial inner city buildings, Architect Lindy Leuschke of Leuschke Group Architects was able to start from scratch with this major conversion and create a home that was roomy and light filled. “The owners wanted to transform two thirds of the building into new commercial space, and the remaining third was set aside to create their own 180m² residence” explains Leuschke.
From the street you barely notice the house, the entrance marked by just a single green door. Inside, Keith Hunter Builders gutted the building, and left the two storey ceiling double height for the open plan living area. To lighten up what could have been a gloomy space, a large portion of the roof was removed and a 5 x 9m long north facing courtyard was created. An entire wall of glass sliding doors leads out from the living area and into the courtyard, which when opened more than doubles the living space.
A small garden of native lancewood and cabbage trees adds a sculptural interest to the courtyard, while being sheer enough not to block the light. The visible exterior walls of the courtyard are lined with cedar or powdercoated aluminium with cedar battens to give texture and visual depth to an otherwise flat concrete wall. An Escea EF5000 outdoor gas fireplace warms the courtyard for outdoor entertaining on cool nights, and the Stainless Steel Ferro fascia mimics the grey of the concrete that runs throughout the building.
Inside, and in keeping with the open and airy feel, a steel and glass staircase leads up from the living area and into the two main bedrooms, which sit one on either side of the living space. The west wing, reached by a separate set of stairs leading from the living area leads to the guest bedroom, which sits on a mezzanine above the kitchen (built by Fabulous Kitchens). A full glass wall opening out to the living area gives the room the appearance that it is floating in the space.
With a space so large and open, heating was always going to be a challenge for the owners of this house. A powerful gas fireplace by Escea was the answer to heat the huge space, with the fireplace also doubling as a piece of furniture for stylish storage. The zero clearance feature of Escea fireplaces meant that Leuschke was able to design the clever sideboard with the fireplace inserted without any fire risk. Inside the fireplace, a bed of New Zealand River Rocks and a Volcanic Black Bevelled Fascia compliment the rich colour scheme.
The red and black theme of the fireplace flows through into the kitchen where the black lacquer cupboards are given a lively pop from a row of vibrant orange glass overhead cabinets. “We opted for high quality materials, such as the Italian Carrara marble floor tiles in the living area” says Leuschke. “Bronze aluminium joinery also lends a richness to the interior.”