Sunday, June 19, 2005

How to cut a house in half...

My in-laws just spent a few days with us. It was the first time that they had seen our new house although we had described it to them in detail and they had seen external photos.

What they weren't prepared for was the breathtaking view from every room upstairs (the kitchen and family rooms). It is real hard to describe but the kitchen is 5 steps lower down creating a split level effect. You can sit in the family room and look out the enormous windows (around 4 meters, floor to ceiling) to the city and the airport, down the length of the runway, and out to the open sea. At the same time if you look to the kitchen you see over towards Eastbourne and the rest of the harbour.

We often see the InterIslander cruising in the Cook Straight on its way into Wellington. It then comes around Point Halswell and into the harbour and seems to dock in our garden. At night we can see the lights of the planes in a graceful arc coming in to the airport. Ms R thinks that the lights are Peter Pan and Tinkerbell and gets most excited. Little Miss R thinks every light is a star and gets very worried as they seem to disappear into the sea; lots of "on no, on no, plop".

When we bought this house, the previous owners very kindly left us the plans which we have just read. Oddly enough, there are two full sets, some dated 1964 and some dated 1971. In the early set, the house is one story and is a lovely cottage with a big open family room and kitchenette, native wooden floors and a little sewing room and study. The access to the house was up a long winding path down to Onslow Road and must have been 60 or so steps.

In late 1971, someone had the great idea of making the most of the view and chopping off the roof and raising the whole thing by a few meters. The shape of the land had dictated a split level with two bedrooms on the bottom level with the kitchen, and two at the top. When they designed the upstairs, this was continued to give the unique view and strange design. The sewing room was converted into a neat walk-in wardrobe and the study a cool bathroom. Some of the bedrooms were then moved about and the old family room and kitchenette turned into one great big playroom.

The plans below show the house from the rear and the red line is where the roof was chopped off and raised. There is now no roof space but the feeling of light and space upstairs is like a cathedral, although it means changing light bulbs is a bitch. Haven't figured out how I'm gonna deal with that problem. As you can see, it all worked pretty well and you would have no idea (we didn't) that this was ever anything but a two story house. The exterior gives nothing away and everything was done in keeping with the original little 60's cottage.

The downside is that there is a huge area to heat but that has been
sorted with the aid of Daikin. Whoever had the idea of doing this was a genius and I thank them every day when I enjoy my breakfast as the first sailing heads out.


  1. It looks fabulous. Everyone is always going on about how great Petone is, and I do have to admit it has its charms. However, I won't be happy until I have a view of twinkling lights at night. It sounds like you have done very well with this house.

  2. I've always had this highly secret cunning plan of sticking a sucky cup on the end of a telescopic window cleaner with the brush removed to change bitchy lightbulbs. Oh no my secret's out...

  3. Whoops I am anonymous. Secretly...

  4. It is a lovely house but there is a lot to do! There is rot in the windows and lots of bubbling paint but I don't care 'cause I am warm and I like the lights too. I'll post a night piccy for you so you can enjoy them too.

    Good idea on the light bulbs. Does this work and should I wear rubber boots whilst attempting it?

  5. Get a student from Student Job Search. They'll be thrilled with the cushy number of changing lightbulbs until they see what it entails...

  6. Sounds like a good joke.

    How many students does it take to change a lightbulb?

    No my f**king bulb, I didn't break it so change it your f**king self...

  7. I have already had a thing for plans - not sure why... but love pouring over the details of how a house is and was.

  8. Yours has gone through some radical changes too. Do you have the old plans?