WORDS Clare Chapman PHOTOGRAPHY Scott Espie
Chris Caiger’s Kohimarama home was only built five years before he decided to renovate. Despite its tender age, there was a lot of scope to improve the use of space in various areas of the house.
Renovating wasn’t something that was originally on the horizon. “Because it was a relatively new house, we didn’t think there was much to do to it but as it turned out, there was quite a lot,” Chris says.
“It was difficult to use the laundry so that space wasn’t being utilised as well as it could have been. Boxes were sitting unpacked from when we had moved in because there was no storage. We also found that the existing kitchen units were really crammed and realised that was another area that needed some work to maximise the use of space.”
With the help of central Auckland Refresh Renovations owner Jim Gleeson, various small jobs were designed and completed, each of which transformed a space into a more user-friendly, functional area.
The laundry was top on the list for Chris, who set about working with Refresh to work out how to better utilise the space. “The existing laundry was just a washing machine on the ground with a single standalone tub,” Jim Gleeson says.
In order to maximise the available space, Refresh worked with a specialist kitchen designer who developed a set of drawings based around a new benchtop and cabinetry. “There were a lot of space saving tools that we employed to create a more functional area.”
Powerpoints were recessed so the washing machine and dryer were able to be re-installed flush with the wall and fit under a standard-sized benchtop, which avoided the need to pay a premium for a larger one. “It was a good cost effective option,” Jim says. “Standard benchtops are 600mm wide, so because of the recessed power points we could utilise the standard benchtop while having the machines flush with the back wall, and the front of the benchtop.”
Storage space was created under the benchtop too, with a cupboard area next to the built-in sink. At the end of the benchtop is a purpose-built space for hanging clothes, which is butted up against a tall storage cupboard. Overhead, a series of narrow cupboards were installed. “These half-width cupboards are a good way to keep detergents and dangerous chemicals well off the floor. They’re at head height so are still easy to access.”
A trap people often fall into when trying to maximise the use of a space, especially with added storage areas, is overcompensating and ending up with more than is required. “It’s important not to clutter an area like a laundry with too much cupboard space. If that happens, you end up compromising on light and function.”
In this case, light was a central part of the project. A high-gloss splashback was chosen to reflect and enhance the existing lighting, while simultaneously creating a waterproof area behind the machines and sink.
A 3.5mm seratone board was chosen as the splashback, because of its high-gloss and reflective capabilities, as opposed to more traditional options such as glass or tile. “The end result was a light, bright wall that enhances and adds to the available light.”
“There is always an opportunity to make better use of space,” Chris says. “It’s not always obvious how that can be achieved, which is where Refresh really helped us and found better ways to utilise the room we did have. It’s hard to say it’s a pleasure to use a laundry, but what has been achieved comes pretty close to making it a pleasurable experience.”
In the case of this job, the work was unrestricted building work so it was not necessary to apply for consents or create working drawings, which streamlined the process. Once the designs had been done and finalised, the job took three days to complete. Including materials, labour, and the dismantling and disposal of existing sink and materials, disconnection of plumbing and electricals, adding a new power outlet, additional plumbing and minor painting and remedial work, the job came in at about $8,000.
The kitchen was completed as a separate job and redesigned to provide easy-to-access cupboard space. “When we moved in, we found that the cupboards were all really cramped, but having redone them now, with pull-out drawers and clever cabinetry, it makes such a huge difference. The way we feel about the kitchen is completely different; it has changed the way we use it entirely. There’s always room to improve, even in new houses, and that’s what these small projects have done.”
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