Edd Coomber Architectural Designer Old Dog - New Tricks

  • Pou Auaha / Creative Director
    Edd Coomber
  • Client
    Edd Coomber

When this place was found, it had been long term rental. Badly treated, smelled, stained, dirty, and even had broken chairs in the back yard… it was perfect.”
With a modest $100k budget, this 1977 two-bed townhouse has surpassed its original glory, with dark, moody accents, key lighting details, and a no-nonsense, modern approach to space and light. According to the client, a big drawcard was the original condition of the place. It had to be original, not ‘someone else’s bad reno job’.
The original floor plan had a main living area connected to a separate kitchen via an archway and a laundry off the stair/hallway area. Upstairs has a bedroom at each end with a bathroom and separate toilet between them, like many 1970s townhouses around Christchurch.The ground floor was opened up to allow for a more flexible space, with a new door cut from one of the existing windows to allow access to a deck and better connect the house and garden. The cupboard under the stairs was removed to widen the living area and expose the existing concrete block pier. In its place, a built-in sideboard and shelving maximise storage. 

Laminate has been used for benchtops and timber veneer used in the kitchen, replicating the original materials used. The original knobs were also used along with new hardware as a nod to the house’s history while retaining the coherence with the existing door hardware upstairs. The original stair balustrade was somewhat hidden in the hallway; now exposed for better appreciation. Lighting was used to pull the interiors back a few decades with track lighting, and a Jo Hammerborg pendant over the dining area was salvaged from the client’s family home. Controlled lighting allows for all lights to be turned off while the pendant remains on, creating an intimate feel in an otherwise very open room.
The bathroom walls are a subdued basalt tile. The floor offers relief to what is quite a moody space with pink terrazzo, and this pop is balanced by the aged brass tapware. Soft lighting in aged brass from Nightworks helps to create a calming space in the bathroom and the main bedroom, with walls painted in Midnight Moss from Resene.
At time of purchase, it was half the price of newly built central townhouse, which are a similar size, but with no real outdoor space. The project was about providing an example to other first home buyers that there is great value in the older housing stock that can be retrofitted to meet today’s standards while getting the size of an older property. With climate change and the shadow of Covid affecting building supplies, we need to look at utilising all existing housing stock and retrofitting to meet today’s needs, rather than them ending up in landfill. Not only does this retain our existing character, but it helps to reduce our demand on the environment when building and improves the environmental impact of the building.”