Lockdown Over – Time to Lock Into Your Home Renovation Plans

With extra time spent at home in the past two months – tidying the garage, playing with the kids and turning a hand to bread making (FYI did you know bread maker sales have increased 1184% between March – April). And with all that time spent at home, you might have also thought more intently about future reno plans. And that’s a good thing! Why? Because it’s good to give all renovation dreams serious thought before you go jumping into them down the track. Mulling over, jotting down and coming to grips with all the ins, outs and whys of alterations in your pad, ensures that money’s well spent and time invested when push comes to shove.
We know that everyone will have different reasons for wanting to bust through walls and expand spaces – or shrink rooms.

Here’re just a few points that might sway you towards changing up your space . . .
– Nothing flows together – i.e. the kitchen’s jammed next to the main bedroom, which is down the other end of house, miles away from the lounge, which is facing the road instead of north towards the backyard, which means the front deck never gets used.
– It’s locked up – i.e. the kitchen, dining and lounge are all packed into a space which are hidden away from each other with wall, after wall – which means you run a rabbit warren just getting from couch to kitchen sink.
– Old bones playing up – i.e. remedial works might be needed if you’ve sprouted a roof leak, the cladding’s coming away or joinery needs replacing.
When it comes to getting the most out of any reno – big, small or in between – speak up, ask questions and don’t be afraid to keep talking.

The right architect will have a listening ear, great communication pathways and expertise to ensure a job well-done from beginning to end.

House Done – It’s Time to Go Native

So, why plan your planting early? Because it means that once the windows are in, the cladding’s been painted, drains and spouting done, and driveway marked out, you can start to get stuck in to specific areas. And the sooner you plant, the sooner they grow and begin filling out spaces and softening exteriors.

Once you’ve ticked the boxes on your architectural design and you’ve got your build rolling, it’s a good time to step up and smell the corokias. Say what? We’re talking landscaping speak, which although is something that mostly gets planted out at the end of your project, it’s something that can be planned in advance. And, the great news is, you don’t need a physical building to plan it in and around – simply go off your drawings. Easy!

Whilst there’ll be a garden genre/fit for every home, we’re currently in the business of native speak – dishing out Kiwi plant advice to a few clients who are hoping to up the anti on homeland planting around their new spaces. We’re not plant or landscaping experts, but we do appreciate the language of landscaping done well, and native trees and shrubs that lend themselves to the home environment – and don’t detract from its architectural speak.

So, what are our clients planting in their new scapes?

  • A combination of corokia, hebes and flaxes – think Jack Sprat, Chocolate Fingers and Thumbelina – which all compliment and contrast in shades of ruddy browns, warm purples, soft greys and rich greens.
  • Hedges and backdrops – in Griselinia Lucida which has a larger leaf – unlike the broadway mint which is more commonly used.
  • Manuka hedges – both white and red varieties.
  • Titoki – as a stand-alone feature tree (won’t drop leaves), also makes an ideal hedging tree.
  • Chatham Island Forget-me-not, which is ideal for our beachside/coastal clients wanting a glossy, large leaf plant that clumps.
  • Pittosporum – such a Mountain Green – ideal for hedges, Tom Thumb – which is dense, slow growing, but provides good contrast in colour with small reddish-brown leaves.
  • Tussock speak, for dry sites – a silver tussock like Poa Cita is ideal, for damp ground, Juncus Edgariae grows well. For an eye-catching grass – Carex Albula – is a pale, pale silvery green.
  • If you’re wanting a glossy native climber, you can’t go past Tecomanthe Speciose – famously discovered on Three Kings Island in 1946, it is one of the rarest in the world – and with its creamy white flowers and dark glossy leaves, we think one of the most attractive too!

Happy native landscaping!

Throw Us a Bone – What the Best Renos Are Made Of

We’ve all heard the tail-end of dad’s home buying advice time and time again – ‘Buy something with good bones.’ (Says the man still walking around in stubbies and socks and jandals in Winter!) We digress, but when you really want to bite down on a renovation and claim it as your own, what ‘bones’ should we be searching for when house hunting? And do you need a certain number of bones to make it a real treat? We thought we’d do some digging – not literally – and here’s what we fetched . . .

Perfect posy – Forget central, when it comes to layout, a home with good bones won’t make a wasteland of its section i.e. plonking itself centre stage leaving minimal opportunity to extend front or back. Ideally, if the home doesn’t have a garage you want enough space alongside or in front to construct one. Or if it doesn’t have a deck but the sunlight beams in the back, you want enough space to extend your outdoor living where it counts.

Look to the laundry – Older homes often had HUGE laundries. Nowadays, many of us are replete with a hot spot off the bathroom or garage – separated with a shutters/bifold. So, when seeking a home with potential, pin down one with a massive laundry and gauge where you could extend this space into others i.e. increase the size of the kitchen/dining/living.

Build em up – Often enough a home with ‘good bones’ isn’t averse to a good lift – up that is! When perusing potentials, consider the possibility to lift the whole place up and build underneath.

Bring in the experts – Goes without saying really. If you want to get as close to the nitty gritty of what’s going on in a place, then get a thorough building inspection done. We’re talking piling, moisture, plumbing and electrical. It may look solid from the outside but you just don’t know what’s lurking underneath and in between.

Lose the extra shift work – A home with ‘good bones’ shouldn’t leave you feeling skeletal. If you suddenly realise that to achieve the modern look you want, you’re going to have to destroy that structural wall, that wall, shift that wall, bowl that entrance and move the kitchen down the other end, then maybe it’s just not meant to be. Too much of anything isn’t always a good thing.

Lab Rats – Studying the Science Behind Your Home

Many of us opt to ‘aim high’ when renovating or designing our space. Tall windows, walls and ceilings – they create impact and strengthen acoustics. But, did you know there’s more to those 3metre studs than meets the eye. In the name of science, your architecture choices are doing much more than meeting design expectations – they’re promoting performance and improving your conceptual thinking.

What does neuroscience have to do with building my home, you say? Think design choices that effect the way we live, work and function . . .

Sky high: The story of Jonas Salks, an American medical researcher, still remains the most cited example of the unique tie between architecture and the brain. In the 1950s, Salks – struggling to discover a cure for polo – moved to a monastery in Umbria, Italy. He claims the high ceilings and Romanesque arches enabled him to clear his obstructed mind, inspiring his solution – a vaccine was founded.

Research suggests that higher ceilings promote greater performance and strengthen conceptual thinking. On the flipside, lower ceiling spaces have been toted to improve our mathematical thinking. Think higher – think expansive, opt lower – think focused and contained.

Plant space: Research tells us that our visual connection to the outdoors also impacts our cognitive behaviours. Just being able to see a plant, a slice of the sky or a water view from the kitchen bench or dining table, influences our stress levels and mindset.  

Colour waves: Warm colours promote longevity and warmth – we want to spend time in rooms that exude softer lighting and hues. Calm and serenity on your list? Aim for blues and whites, say colour palette experts.

Lighting fix: Every aspect of home design – right down to the lighting position – can evoke mood and feelings. Wanting less formality in your home? Lighting below eye level livens the mood – think low wall lighting down hallways and corridors, and lighting above eye level creates spaciousness and deepens the mood.

Science or no science, when it comes to your home – it’s what’s on the inside that is going to count towards how you live, play and feel. www.coalesce.nz

We’ve Got the Look – The what’s what in New Zealand architecture

Trendsetter or trend follower, these days it’s hard to keep up – let alone catchup – with what’s happening on the trends front – be it fashion, lifestyle or home. So, can pinning down a true-blue Kiwi architecture style actually be done? Afterall, we entertained the Bay Villa in the early 1900s, we built the bungalow in the 20s, channelled the art deco in the 30s, state housing came to the fore in the 40s and following the 1950s, we saw a most-modernist swing towards contemporary architecture that embraced the indoor/outdoor flow – influenced by traditional Maori buildings and our Kiwi lifestyle.

achirtecure awards 2

According to judges at last year’s World Architectural festival, today’s Kiwi architecture landscape is more in tune with the environment than ever before. The judges awarded the Best Villa title to a Golden Bay designed ‘Bach with Two Roofs’ Villa – designed by two Nelson architects – saying it represented – “Architecture, not as a frozen expression in time, but as an evolving expression of life. A project with environmental considerations at heart and the stewardship of one of depleting resources, the forest.”

With nature and sustainability leading the way, and an all-embracing attitude towards coupling with our environment, what are a few of the key elements we should look to when designing the Kiwi home for the 21st Century and beyond?

  • Texture and depth to reflect landscapes: Dark Graphite benches – which channel rocky outcrops, tall white gloss cabinetry – to reflect views and hills.
  • Natural timber exterior wall cladding; interior walls lined with plywood – for interesting grains and intricacy.
  • Concrete with a board-formed finish.
  • Floating internal and external staircases.
  • Homes which naturally slide into a surround of native shrubs and trees.
  • Slot windows and skylights.
  • ‘outdoor rooms’ – with extended roofs and wide openings.
  • Paint speak – black remains top of the ranks, indoors and outdoors.
  • Mid-century influences of ‘built in’ furniture – bench seats and bunk beds included.
architecture awards 3

When it comes to architecture and designing your home, it shouldn’t be about keeping up with the Jones’, rather staying true to your wants, needs and surrounds. We may have plenty of sheep Down Under, but we’ve never been ones to follow. www.coalesce.nz

Blender Bender – Stir don’t shake your architectural styles . . .

Oriental Warehouse LoftArchitect: Edmonds + LeeLocation: San Francisco, California

What we want in our 20s isn’t always going to fare well in our 30s, 40s – and beyond – it’s just life. Same, goes with architectural design, those white walls and spiral staircase options or New York loft-style apartment living visions, may fade out as family come to the fore. Which is why knowing how to blend your architectural styles from one life stage – or taste change – to the next is paramount for a job well done and home enjoyed.

So, before you go transforming your 1940s villa into an industrial estate, sit down with pen, paper and conscious thought.

  • Building new? Enter the 80/20 rule – think of it as a style casting – two different aesthetics shouldn’t have equal representation – you don’t want to end up with a 50/50 split personality look. So, for example, if you’re going for the modern country and industrial aesthetic. Preference either 80% modern country and 20% industrial – or vice versa. This makes for a logical following – especially when choosing big ticket items like your window types, cladding materials, roof pitch – you opt for the 80% design influence. And when it comes to your secondary options, like your fixtures, hardware and trims, this is where you call on your 20% design preference. Voila!

  • If you’re updating / renovating your existing home, aim to respect the integrity of the bones of the house and only initiate ‘big moves’ if you think you can pull it off i.e. busting down walls to create greater open spaces. Get the design to work – but don’t force it i.e. a new large glass sliding door can work to create an industrial feel in a rustic barn.

  • Simplify the design elements you like of each aesthetic – and then incorporate. For example, rectangular roof and gable ends (geometric style), combined with large exterior windows (modern edge).
  • Find your common thread – you’ll be surprised at just how many design aesthetics share similar styles. i.e. Rustic and industrial styles both embrace natural materials, earthy colours, handcrafted textures. Once you have your thread, work on weaving that ‘connection’ through your architectural design i.e. in the case of hybrid between rustic and industrial they could meet at ‘parred back, organic environment’.

It’s okay to dare to be different but ensure your home style blending is stirred not shaken, reach out to us for a no obligation chinwag.

People Power – Don’t settle for just LIKING the people behind your project!

They say home is where the heart is and when it comes to designing your space, we’re hearting the people behind the project – they bring the love. Just as a picture can speak a thousand words and a fragrance can take us all the way back down memory lane, a building too will continue to pay homage to those who journeyed through its construction.

So, what’s more important than flashy pictures, beaming references and a resounding portfolio of works, when picking your designer? The designer himself – and the rapport you strike up with him.

“Architecture is such a personal thing and you need to be completely comfortable and confident in the company of your designer to articulate your true wants and needs,” says Dylan Batenburg, director of Coalesce Architecture.

“As architectural designers it’s our job to ensure we ask all the right questions and provide the right guidance to turn dreams into a finished project – and you want your clients to feel completely at ease discussing all the ins and outs of the design process,” he explains. “From a client’s perspective, you know when you’re feeling a connection with someone – and you know when you’re just nodding for the sake of nodding. My advice to anyone is don’t settle. Choose an architect you can drum up a meaningful connection with.”

Aside from feel-good vibes and positivity, there are a few forward thinking actions a ‘good sort’ architect might put into play when meeting new clients for the first time too. So, keep a watch out for these and you know you’re onto a winner . . .

  • He’ll bring a measuring tape to site on the day he meets you.
  • He’ll discuss the WHOLE process of how EVERYTHING works – not just design and aspects and features. He’ll discuss consents, working with builders, give honest feedback about budget, realistic timeframes.
  • He’ll ask the questions that matter to you and your needs – i.e. How is the house not working for you now? Why are you doing this – how do live now and how do you want to live?
  • He’ll leave you with things to think about and feeling inspired – not tell you “I’ll get back to you next week.”
  • He’ll get to know you – not just your site plan – in a good way, not creepy way. He’ll ask about your family, your work, your kids, your hobbies – these all intrinsically link to your project’s speak.

In a world that’s dominated by screens and tap tapping, getting in front of people and truly connecting with someone, is surely still the most real avenue to achieving our hopes and dreams. We’re in it for people – not portfolios, let’s coalesce.

Take the Long Road – Design for timelessness, not just the here and now

Living Coral may be the colour of 2019 but when you’re planning on living in your home beyond Christmas, the love and goodwill may be hard to muster in amongst a pink headache. It’s true, our tastes change and our needs change – what we sort five years ago in a lounge suite isn’t going to cut it with the two-year-old. When it comes to art there are no rules that say we have to stick with one particular style – some of the most inspirational artistic people out there make the biggest shifts – Frank Gehry for example.

However, when it comes to architectural design, there are a few timeless choices we can implement first and foremost, that will provide the necessary platform to shift with our lifestyles, mould with our latest furniture purchases and accommodate our on-trend must-haves.

So, if you’re in the business of a new build or renovating a home, apartment or office space, here’s where we think timeless decisions will serve you better than trendy . . .

Height – A featured ceiling with a high stud will never date.

Clean lines – In terms of architecture, a ‘clean line’ in a building emphasises strength and provides a sharper contrast between other elements in the space.

Flooring – Black and white kitchen tiles, solid wooden floors – both will look good in five, 10 and 20 year’s time.

Nature – High-quality materials never go out of style. Wood, stone, leather exude a comfortable classic look and develop a natural patina over time.

A favourite timeless architectural design example of ours . . . The Conversation Pit – think Mad Men – popularised in the 1960s and 70s. In a world where everyone’s starring at screens, a designated spot that brings everyone together for a good ole yak has got to have ageless appeal.

Ready to start your architectural conversation? Let’s coalesce!




Want ‘Real’ New Year Architecture Inspiration for 2019? Look to the way we’re living . . .

Like bikes with bells, scrunchies and chatter rings, trends have defined, moved and reinvented us. Architecture is much the same, it’s ever-changing – there are emerging trends every week, month, year. With so many decades of inspiration tucked under our belt, its no easy feat finding your fit in a melting pot of design. But, as Ludwig Miles van der Rohe says: “Not yesterday, not tomorrow, only today can be given form. Only this architecture creates.”What is today’s architecture reacting to? Well according to architect Veronica Schreibeis Smith, “Spaces that were just for cooking and eating, for example, are now being re-thought to “promote life-enhancing daily habits and rituals.”

Unlike the minor refinement of the 1950s kitchen, today’s kitchen and dining spaces are about well-being and creating meaningful lifestyle choices – think stone engineered counters, induction cooktops.

Outside the kitchen, our rooms continue to open up to new ways of living. Many of us want an aural and visual connection between two spaces – dining and lounge, lounge and office, dining and patio – but simultaneously want to have the ability to close off that space if required – with concealed cavities that are tucked away out of sight, of course!

Just like the all too referenced indoor-outdoor trend, the call for a ‘flexible ‘spaces will continue to sound for some time – think sliding doors, pocket doors, dividers, all transitioning between rooms in the home and outdoor areas. Why so flexible? Because our living style dictates it. Home office, Airbnb, man cave, guest suite, playroom our homes wear many hats and so should its design.

Want design that fits your speak, let’s coalesce . . .




Strike a balance between your architectural design ‘must-haves’ and your budget ‘full-stops’

So, you’re designing a new place. Whatever your fit – house, apartment, barn, cottage – striking a balance between your ‘true’ wants, your budget end point and investment in ‘other rooms and spaces’ is essential for long-term satisfaction and enjoyment.

So, how do you actually achieve the architectural space you visualise without losing your mind and budget figure in the process? Firstly, set the budget numbers aside and hone in specifically on the design process.

Why? Because all too often we hear stories of clients who ‘had’ these exciting dreams and visions at the beginning of a project, only to arrive at the end and have a home that is ‘nice and lovely’ but lacks the ‘true’ soul and spirit they’d envisaged.

From a designer’s perspective, many homeowners inevitably fall into this spiral of trying to do ‘too’ much with ‘not enough’, which arguably results in a project that fails to impress where it should.

Ultimately, clever design relies on smart use of space and creative application of materials, both linked to a thorough understanding of how you live and how you want to live. For example, a designer can capture that ‘soul and vision’, by increasing the height of ceilings in living areas, or featuring specialist finishing materials on walls or ceilings i.e. timber sarked ceiling as opposed to gib, or creating a larger door/opening that connects your indoor and outdoor spaces.

Articulate design isn’t about digging deeper into your pocket, it’s about honing the real reasons behind the architectural project.

Seeking architectural expertise across Tauranga, Mount Maunganui, Te Puke, Kati Kati and beyond? Seek us, Coalesce Architecture, we have over 40 years combined experience in all areas of design.