Wednesday 19 February 2014

Progress of My House Makeover - Front Exterior

I was going to begin this post with a statement about 'my boxy 1930's ex-state home', however I am retracting it to describe how I am improving my little piece of 'iconic' New Zealand. I recently met a woman whose daughter is studying the history of New Zealands architecture. I was moaning about the lack of interesting architecture of my home when she informed me I owned a piece of New Zealand's history, an icon and I should embrace it. After hearing this I decided to do a little research on the history of the state homes and what I learned was quite enlightening.

Apparently the early brick, state homes were originally built for soldiers and servicemen after the war. Later, the Government decided it vastly needed to improve the standard of NZ housing and plans were drawn up to build new houses in cities around New Zealand. Eventually the Government allowed the architectural plans for these 'state homes' be released for public use. The designs were claimed to be ahead of their time and aimed at providing New Zealanders with a far better standard of living. The drafty wooden villas and Californian bungalows so sought after today, were surprisingly classed as 'sub standard', which when you think about it with their scrim and wooden framing is most likely an accurate statement. I found an interesting article about State housing from the AC archives. If your a Kiwi, you may be interested in reading more, however, I think I have probably enlightened you enough on the history of state homes and realise most are here to see my 'before' and 'after' images.

In a previous post on 'curb appeal', I wrote about my  unattractive, 'iconic' 1940's bagged, brick cottage and how I am trying to improve its aesthetics. Unfortunately I don't have an image of the original exterior paint colour. When I bought the cottage the exterior, including the windows were painted a dark blue/grey. The 'before' image is after two coats of white undercoat and two coats of Karen Walker, Foggy Grey. I drew inspiration from interior designer Andrew Melvilles' home, which he has since sold. Andrew's house was a similar era to mine and most likely after what I have recently discovered about this style of architecture, is one of the privately built homes when the Government released their plans for public use.

My initial inspiration board:

My before...
My rather boring, ex state 'iconic' house in need of a makeover

Below, progress to date...
Not yet complete, however, lighter with a sense of more space and some badly needed landscaping. 

My Bay Laurels
The small white plant will be re-planted with something that will trail down over the pots (suggestions welcome)

  • Windows stripped back and painted in  Resene 'Black White'
  • Addition of two topiaries and pots to front entrance
  • 3 Bay Laurels which smell divine
  • white river stone chips, help reflect light and create a sense of more space
  • Buxus either side of front entrance. The right side re-located from the neighbours so not yet established and clipped properly
  • Star Jasmine to espalier in a diamond shape around wire to left side of the house

Still to be completed..
  • Tile front steps
  • New front door
  • Shutters either side of front window
  • Boxed trellis to either side of front door with Star Jasmine to disguise the down pipe from en-suite bathroom
  • Small portico over entrance (see inspiration board)
  • Star Jasmine to grow up the carport support post and along the front barge board, to soften the straight lines of the roof
  • Replace the sensor lights with a carriage style lamp
One annoying problem is the front windows. All the windows around the house are quite large apart from the ones at the front which belong to an en-suite and master bedroom. There is a much larger window around the corner of this bedroom and I guess as there is a carport roof in front, the previous owners chose to keep these smaller windows when renovating. However, I feel they are set too high and look out of proportion. I had thought possibly a window box but don't want to end up with the house looking too 'twee'. Maybe when the shutters go up, it will look much better. I now feel quite proud to say I live in an iconic NZ house but still going about my way of trying to add some curb appeal and look forward to sharing the final reveal once it's finished.


  1. HI, Lee, I think your house is coming along nicely and I love what you've done so far. A small portico will be so cute and I love the landscaping already. Those espaliered vines are such a nice touch. I can't think of any great ideas for you, but just to say keep up the good work. Thanks for sharing with me. I'll be working on my exterior lots more this year too!

  2. Thanks Rhoda for taking time to comment, yes it definitely needs something above the entrance way. The vines will take a while to grow but the hope is I can clip them in a perfect boxed shape but in a diamond shape. I am looking for an elusive Lions head to go in the centre but all the ones I have found have been a bit ugly. I think possibly once the shutters are up the windows will be ok but other than that I am thinking of putting some deeper moulding.architrave below them.

    Thank you.

    Lee :)

  3. Cool! I LOVE the changes already. Those bay laurels are adorable and so are the topiaries! Perfect idea. Maybe you could drop in some variegated ivy to trail over the side of the pots with the topiaries. I think all your ideas are great and will make a big difference. I love the inpiration door and I also really like the color you've painted the house.



    1. Thanks Cindy and I like your idea of the trailing ivy, that might be better than annuals that die as it will be green all year. There is still a lot more planting to establish as I want something up the sides of the front entrance. I have just painted the steps to get rid of the dark grey until the tiler comes back but it actually looks ok and wondering if I even need to tile.


Thank you for your time to leave a comment, I ♥ to read your comments and try to reply to them all.