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  • A back view of the house from the garden 

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.

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