A Spectacular Two-Storey Villa in Thorndon, Wellington

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This 1910 Thorndon villa was configured as two rental units, but the new homeowners wanted to revert it back into a single family residence. This remarkable renovation proves that a character home transformation can be a spectacular success.

Before After
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Combining Rental Properties into A Primary Residence

Wellington land plots are notoriously treacherous to renovate — steep, narrow, and confined by other homes. This Thorndon property was no exception. But homeowners, Sheryl and Peter, had their sights set on this house, which was configured into two rental units when they bought it. They weren’t looking for an income property; rather they saw great potential in restoring the villa into a single-family dwelling.   

Sheryl and Peter imagined a home with traditional interiors, an extended living space leading to an outdoor patio, a garage at the rear, and a tidy facade with exquisite landscaping. Acknowledging that this project was Herculean in scale, they reached out to Refresh Renovations and were connected with local Renovation Consultant, Nick Leko

During their initial consultation, Nick comprehended the scale and the intricacies of Sheryl and Peter’s plans.Their formidable to-do list was well matched by Nick’s 20+ years in the architecture industry. His experience, paired with Refresh’s comprehensive approach to renovations and project management, primed this project for success. Together, Nick, Sheryl and Peter embarked on a renovation project that would result in quite a magnificent transformation. 

Scoping out the Project

Although the proposed budget was generous, Nick soon concluded that there would need to be some concessions if the renovation were not to exceed the funds Sheryl and Peter had allocated. 

Utilising the Refresh process was particularly beneficial to close the gap between goals and budget. Nick worked closely with Sheryl and Peter to consider each aspect, ensuring they weren’t compromising the outcome and remaining comfortable with the costs.

After some back and forth during the concept phase the plans were confirmed — significant structural changes and a complete interior and exterior overhaul, including an extension and fresh landscaping — for $720,000.

A Challenging Construction Site

To tackle the complex project, Nick coordinated an outstanding team of professionals from his network of preferred contractors. It was essential that Nick had an experienced crew who would be meticulous with every detail. Site access was extremely restricted and it was vital the team was vigilant during excavation, so as not to disturb or damage the home or neighbouring properties.

This initial phase proved to be labour intensive from the outset. The foundations needed to be reinforced as the old piling was decrepit. By lifting the entire home on hydraulics, the team had space in which to work freely and install new piles.

Site works around the house proved to be particularly challenging throughout, with the rear garage, paved outdoor area, concrete driveway, fencing and garden landscaping all evidence of the skill and professionalism of the team engaged in the project.

Beautifully Traditional Interiors

Many of the charming antiquities of the character home remain in the crown moulding, intricate woodwork, and stained-glass windows. Bold, graphic wallpapers in the powder room and alongside the staircase bring colour into the otherwise neutral interior aesthetic. Upstairs, the full bathroom features a freestanding tub and crisp white colour palette, complemented by the stunning striated timber flooring - a feature of its very own.  

On the first floor of this home can be found multiple lounge and dining areas, both formal and casual. Keeping the original bay window at the front retains the home’s original character while framing the formal dining area. Towards the back of the home is a second lounge, this one more casual and host to a TV and an abundance of books. 

The elegant kitchen with its simple white cabinetry and dramatic marble benchtops, is infused with natural light from double-glazed windows. Its timber flooring extends into the casual dining area, which in turn leads out through large doors to the new stone patio and outdoor living area, achieving seamless flow between living areas. 

Sophisticated Exterior

The villa is striking from the outside. With the decrepit street front garage and rickety side staircase demolished, the frontage is now clean and sharp instead of a cluttered blight. Crisp new cladding and white trim give the home a subtle sophistication, and the new wooden stairway provides a grand entrance directly from the street to the front door, painted a welcoming dark emerald green.  

Before the renovation, there was no front yard to speak of. Now, a two-tiered lawn, supported by timber retaining walls, creates a charming green space planted with shrubs and climbing roses. 

An Award-winning Transformation

What Sheryl and Peter are left with is a testament to Nick’s incredible competence as a project manager and the talent of the team he handpicked. It’s no wonder this Thorndon beauty earned a Silver Master Builders Award. And Sheryl and Peter are certainly the true winners as they get to call this incredible century-old villa “home”.

Would you like to discuss your home renovation ideas?

Get in touch for a free consultation with your local Renovation Consultant.

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This project was completed in
January 2022
Project description
This spectacular renovation transformed a two-storey villa from a duo of rental properties to a magnificent single family home.
New Zealand
Project duration
Several years
Cost estimate
Actual cost
Restricted site access
Interesting aspects
Clean landscaping and traditional interior design
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Nick Leko is Renovation Consultant of Sexton Leko Ltd, a franchisee of Renovation Franchise Ltd, doing business in Wellington

Actual costs vary by project. Plan ahead to reduce the impact of industry changes or disruptions. For more information see here.

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