Craig and Wu Li's Minimalist Apartment

20 Jan 2011

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Do you have a home full of wonderful Resene paint and colour? Send us some snaps by emailing editor Sharon Newey on [email protected].

Small but perfectly formed

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When Craig and Wu Li first bought their home in New Plymouth, it was an old butcher’s shop with three-metre high ceilings, a sloping floor and no windows. “It was pitch black!” recalls Craig. “It was literally a long, dark tunnel.”

The couple knew that they had a lot of work ahead of them to make the shop into a home, so they enlisted the help of architect Ian Pritchard. Aiming for a “contemporary industrial” style, they completely gutted the old building and transformed it into a slick new three-bedroom apartment, mostly neutral in colour, but with a few features painted in bright orange Resene Mexican Wave.

The couple’s minimalist style works perfectly with the clean lines of the modern space. They have chosen hidden strip lighting so that there is not one light bulb in sight, handle-less drawers for a sleek look in the kitchen and bathroom, and metal roller doors for the storage spaces along the hallway.

What attracted you to the home? The location – close enough to the centre of the city to walk, far enough to be in a quiet area, and very near to Pukekura Park.

What did you want to achieve with your house, in terms of interiors? I wanted something that was timeless, with very square lines to fit with the minimalism. I also wanted it to be very low-maintenance and quiet, so we used double glazing and extra insulation, which also makes the temperature very stable from summer to winter.

Where did your inspiration come from? I got some inspiration from New York-style loft apartments. Our vision also evolved as we consulted with the architect. I wanted an industrial grunge aesthetic, but he wanted more clean lines. He won on that point! But we were happy with the end result, as it still met our original design brief.

Why did you make the colour scheme choices you did? We wanted to create a light, bright space, as the building is nearly 20 metres long and only has very little windows on the side. We chose Resene White for the ceiling and walls, and Resene Mexican Wave to add some punch.

What was the biggest challenge? Getting enough light into the building! We achieved this by having a roofless inner courtyard.

What was the greatest success in the build/renovation? The inner courtyard, because it provides light to the whole building and, because of its location, can be left open all night without compromising security.

Which space do you get your greatest satisfaction from, and why? The master bedroom, as it looks out onto the courtyard and is very peaceful. Because of the insulation and the double glazing, you get the feeling that you are isolated from the world.

To read more about this home, and see more photos of it, pick up a copy of the latest Habitat magazine from your local Resene ColorShop.

pictures Architect: Ian Pritchard [email protected] Photography: Mark Harris

Bright this way

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A wall of bright orange Resene Mexican Wave welcomes visitors to the apartment, standing out against the neutral tones of the concrete steps, wooden deck and Resene Tuna painted cladding. "We wanted to paint the outside cement board with a dark colour, and using Resene Tuna CoolColour was a way to achieve that," explains Craig. In hot summer conditions a Resene CoolColour paint helps to minimise a dark paint heating up, reducing the energy required to keep the home within maintained at a comfortable temperature. This makes it ideal for use on roofs and on walls which get a lot of direct sunlight. The reduced heat also increases the expected lifetime of the coating and the material underneath.

The concrete exterior walls, which were originally built in the 1930s, were also coated with Resene X-200 acrylic waterproofing membrane because of some concerns about possible water ingress.

Bold move

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Floating cabinetry helps to create the illusion of extra floor space in the small apartment, while a glass splash-back in Resene Mexican Wave continues the colour theme from outdoors to indoors.

Let there be light

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An open-air internal courtyard allows light to enter the once-dark building. Craig and Wu Li have recently added a small vegetable garden to the courtyard.

Lofty ideas

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The wooden ceiling beams were left exposed, reflecting Craig’s love of New York-style loft apartments.

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Resene Mexican Wave

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Resene Mexican Wave

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the look

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colour to use or need colour
advice, try out the Resene
Ask a Colour Expert service.