Extreme makeover: villa edition

Lifestyle and Technology Written by Squirrel, Mar 8 2018

Architect and director of the Auckland based Architect firm Matter, Jonathan Smith recently took on one of his biggest projects yet: renovating his own family home.

Based in Ponsonby, the square villa originally built in 1905 was falling apart. Literally. Kitchen cabinetry actually fell off the wall. There were holes in floors, the bench rotted through and possibly worst of all, some small, non-paying four legged flatmates moved in without an invitation.

Rotten wood, gate

This was no small job, and not one room was left untouched. Jon also saw the renovation as a chance to expand the house, and added a large extension to the north and below the existing for a heck of a lot more space. This extra space could now accommodate for parents moving in, and frequent visits from other family members.

dug out northern end makeover

Brick wall, construction on the villa

If you’ve been involved in a renovation of an old villa, you’ll know it’s not a straight forward cookie cutter project. There are many bespoke finishings and details, and this house in particular had details new to New Zealand in its time. Needless to say, these were not going to be jeopardized, so a good dose of patience was required.

Heritage-modern fusion

What makes this house so unique is the two polar opposite looks on each end, which work perfectly in unison for a spectacular and high functioning new pad. The road facing side of the house remained true to its heritage and that classic ‘Ponsonby look’ that we all know and love with its original weatherboards and joinery. 

Villa - roadside

Meanwhile, the opposite end and inside the dwelling became a complete reinvention and a work of art.

Inspired by a pōhutukawa tree on the property, a screen of cedar slats covers the upstairs and a brick wall connects the two ends together. Now why not throw in a beautiful outdoor area complete with pool and a fireplace by the outdoor living area? That’s what they did. We’re hoping for an invite to the next house party.

Northern extension outside

Outdoor area, fireplace

Brick wall, downstairs living area


Solving parking issues with a bit of imagination

Another element of this project that sparked a fair amount of interest was the garage. With a bit of thinking outside the box, Jon solved the problem of limited off-street parking in his busy street.

Road view of villa

What was originally a bedroom became a garage with a stacker imported from Germany, to fit both his and his wife's cars in one compact area. The door which was kept in its original style and from the outside looks like a classic villa wall, reveals the clever little garage. You can see a video of it in action here.

Villa garage

What a journey it was, but two and a half years of renovations (and patience) has more than paid off. To get more of a sneaky peak inside, view the rest of the photos here.

As you can see Jon is an expert when it comes to bespoke design; you can check out his other work here:

We can help. Have a chat to one of our advisers.