Subversive in Suburbia

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There comes an age and a stage in life, usually when Empty Nest syndrome hits, that a radical reinvention is called for. Jean and Nigel Bartosh are an upstanding example of this. With their 20-something son and daughter dispersed to Europe, they took their chance. They loved the location of the old brick-and-tile family home in Glendowie, but wanted something that involved less upkeep. Long story short, they bought the section next door, subdivided – a process they say is “not for the fainthearted” – and built a Box™.

The two-storey result is split into self-contained ‘apartment living’ upstairs with spare bedrooms and a flexi room downstairs for when the visiting flock returns. The lower level is in plain ‘Blackjack’ Shadowclad and becomes a low-key plinth for the show-stopping upper level, a cedar box that cantilevers on two sides and appears to float in the urban landscape.

The couple’s favourite space is the lofty outdoor room which offers an all-in-one experience that feels like a holiday at home. “It has lights, it has music, it has a fireplace and comfy seats,” says Jean. What more could a girl want? Well, perhaps the view of Tamaki Estuary and the adjoining park – and a husband adept at mixing cocktails to order. Tick. Tick. And Tick.

Inside, the pair took the opportunity to funk up the volume. Box™ interior designer Sam Elliot was right on board suggesting wallpapers from Icon Textiles. In contrast to the white palette of the rest of the house, blue and gold circles are a surprising feature of the powder room while the flexi room has a tripped-out pattern – Flyttflo Grande in the Wonderland Collection – of kaleidoscopic intensity.

Now that these Masters of Reinvention are settled in their new pad, they can’t wait for the kids to come home so they can show off their stripes.