From the front entrance, the house looks like an English cottage with brick outer walls and sprawling foliage. According to an early publication, the 1920s home was considered one of the best constructed of its time. The traditional house is extremely solid, incorporating mahogany beams and brick — it was built to last.
Vivienne Brown bought the house in its original state almost 25 years ago, and has since given the property a considerable makeover. Keeping the essential nature of the traditional building intact was an important aspect to consider during the alteration process. One of the hidden gems discovered while renovating was the rimu window and door ledges, which were originally covered with paint. These were stripped down to reveal the highly prized wood underneath.
Vivienne and her ex-partner Paul Brown really wanted to create the sense of indoor/outdoor flow on the lower level of the house, so they decided the addition of French doors would fit the space perfectly. The doors lead out onto the back deck, which Brown built himself, even laying the brickwork by hand! Having young children when they first moved in, the couple decided to push out the dormers on the second level and create a third bedroom. Renovating the loft and adding windows to the roof transformed an unused space into the perfect spare room for the kids as they got older. The old chimney also had an upgrade, as they opted for a modern heating system to warm the entire house, while still having the luxury of a burning fire in the winter.
The internal decor of the home has a refreshing mix of personal mementoes, as many of the items have come from Brown’s years of travel. Shells from tropical islands, traditional loom-spun wall hangings from Lombok, opium pipes from China, woven fans from Fiji and jars of stones from the mouth of the Tuatapere River are displayed tastefully around the main room. Persian rugs and carpet runners cover the floors and lead their way around the lower level and up the staircase. The warm, dark tones of the interior are contrasted with large white orchids and white and green bouquets. And as you wander into the kitchen, there is a wonderfully rustic flavour. Brown’s partner tiled the kitchen and walk-in pantry with square white tiles, while cereals and ingredients are stored in large glass jars above the stove.
When Brown originally purchased the house, it was on a 1‑acre plot situated in the middle of a large paddock. After several years she decided to subdivide the property, while still leaving her and her partner a considerable area in which to master their landscaping skills. The back garden is now home to an abundance of New Zealand native trees, including hebes, cabbage trees and tarata. Perfectly positioned cherry trees provide shade over the outdoor dining table during a hot Wellington afternoon, while freshly grown cherry tomatoes are only an arm’s length away when the couple are in need of cheeky snack. With the sprawling backyard and outdoor barbecue, the space is perfect for entertaining. “It’s a great house for a party!” Brown explains, reflecting on the many wonderful memories her family have shared in their grand English cottage.