By Jason Burgess
The future of home improvements could be defined in four words: flexibility, efficiency, personality and nature. Finding a character house in which to demonstrate them in helps keep history alive.
Against a backdrop of accelerating lifestyles, soaring costs in living and the bland homogeneity of mass home builds, comes a new wave of renovators looking to modernize unique and idiosyncratic houses. “Traditional home renovations never go out of style,” says Refresh Renovation Specialist Nick Leko. “But there is a growing interest, particularly for pre-WWII houses.” By using those definitive architectural styles as the footprints for creating efficient, flexible living spaces, that express our individuality and return to nature, today’s renovators are resetting the benchmark for future living. (see How to Eco Renovate Your Home) Updating while restoring adds an aesthetic and social value to our burbs. It is a celebration of New Zealand’s heritage and identity.
As house prices bite, rental costs spiral and family structures morph, prudent renovators are opting for flexible floor plans that can adapt to ongoing changes in living situations. Working from home is a reality for many as are multigenerational and /or double-family cohabitations. With careful planning and dual-purpose décor, living spaces transmute into shared, multi-purpose areas. A pull-down bed or desk, can make a guest room or homework nook of any space. A dining room becomes an office; a music/media room a studio or hobby space, and a den, transforms into an in-law’s suite.
There are plenty of solutions for optimizing flexibility in open-plan spaces. A moveable wall can open up or divide a room while ‘floating’ half walls and glass fireplaces can introduce intimate areas. Split-level stairs might create a comfy hideaway or break the line of longer rooms, built-in seating areas on stair landings can provide an Om zone or a place to read, and bookshelves can turn a hallway into a library.
All season outdoor rooms with inbuilt fireplaces and kitchen / dining areas are increasingly popular and extend living options. The proliferation of retractable awnings and louvre roofs provide versatility, style and shelter on any budget. If there is garden space, a tiny house can keep elderly parents close to their families -without living on top of them. Or provide additional income. (see Microhomes Article)
The tide of minimalism is receding and monochromatic interiors are giving way to colours and patterns. “For the last decade,” says Nick, “colour schemes have been muted. Now renovators are requesting more vibrant, saturated tones -and wall papers- particularly on feature walls.” Try a soft 1970’s palette of low-VOC pastels with accents of gold and brass to set the overall mood. Use layers and textures like rugs, objet, art and furniture to link spaces, punctuate walls and floors, accentuate colour narratives and highlight design aspects. Sprays of bold abstract florals in upholstery, curtains and furnishings will make a statement, while more traditional or whimsical patterns suggest delicacy and elegance. Art Deco is new again. Think metallic finishes like brushed gold light fixtures and brass handles; coffered ceilings, fan and geometric motif fabrics and the revival of the tub armchair. Introduce one-off conversation pieces like repurposed furniture, handcrafts or bespoke surface features. “People who renovate have a real appreciation of vintage” says Nick. “It’s a recognition of craft and workmanship. Like old homes -they have integrity. “
Open plan, island kitchens with strong connections to the outdoors are virtually a prerequisite in any renovation. The revival of open storage systems that show off cooking utensils and ingredients signals a swing towards informality. Conversely, in larger homes the larder returns in the form of a small separate room or freestanding cupboards. A larder provides storage, extra prep areas, and a place to tidy dirty dishes away from entertaining areas. Black and white tones are still favoured but these are now tempered with the natural hues of timber cabinetry, and engineered stone. There is a renewed uptake in sleek, brushed stainless-steel surfaces too. Ceramic tiles offer a hint of tradition and timelessness on splashbacks, (see Choosing Tiles) while vintage pendant lighting over the island introduce additional layers of interest.
Sustainability underwrites future homes. Nick suggests that while external joinery is predominantly timber and aluminium, Kiwi’s are increasingly leaning to uPVC -one of the most energy efficient and virtually maintenance-free systems, common throughout the Northern hemisphere. Design for passive solar gains inside and stick to natural building products on the exterior. Weatherboard, brick and fibre-cement are our go-to claddings for blending with existing structures. Newer pre-coloured, aerated-concrete products, like INTEGRA, address historic monolithic-cladding issues (IE: leaky buildings) and make for quality highlights or a complete finish. At the high-end, zinc and copper cladding create distinctive, weathered-toned patinas. On the roof, lightweight, Viking asphalt shingles provide fine lines and cost-effective solutions for those who prefer the aesthetic of slate tiles, without forfeiting quality. Asphalt tiles do not require the extra infrastructure of concrete tiles. That same BRANZ appraised technology is used in waterproofing and energy efficient membranes for low pitched or flat roofs too.
If you would like to discuss tiling options for your next renovation project, please use the enquiry form alongside to provide us with your contact details. We will get in touch with you at a time that suits you to discuss your project. If you would like to provide us with more information about your project, we have a more comprehensive enquiry form on our "Get in touch" page too.