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Three storey 110-year-old villa is rejuvenated with Resene paints after surviving tornado and 600km relocation
The renovation of Huntly House has more drama than a reality TV show. Homeowners Hayley and Chris embarked on an incredible adventure when they restored their triple storey, seven bedroom Victorian villa. In a project packed with harrowing twists and turns, including a tornado, consent issues and a 600km relocation, the restoration of their forever home hasn’t been easy – but it’s been well worth the hundreds of litres of Resene paint and thousands of hours of labour.
Hayley is an office manager with a teaching background and Chris is the CEO of the NZ Rural Leadership Trust. It was love at first sight for these self-proclaimed habitual house hunters when they stumbled across Huntly House on TradeMe in 2017. “The moment we set foot in the old empty home we could see the possibilities oozing from the woodwork,” says Hayley, who loves upcycling with Resene paint. “It was so easy to cast my imagination back to a bygone era to role-play what I dreamed life would have been like in this magnificent home.
“The present reality was a cold and empty home, desperate to be loved again.”
Choosing the Resene colour scheme, including Resene Quarter Truffle and Resene Quarter Sea Fog in the interior and Resene Half Sea Fog and Resene Double Truffle on the exterior, was the easy part. Hayley wanted to take care of the building which in its 110 year lifetime had been a private hotel, a lodging house and a mechanic’s workshop and car yard. Located on the outskirts of Palmerston North, Hayley and Chris made the bold move to transport the house to their farm in Clarks Beach on the outer edge of Auckland.
To travel the 600km from Palmy to Auckland, the house was separated into six pieces and wended its way up State Highway 1; through the Desert Road and around Lake Taupo, taking detours to avoid low bridges. The relocation involved two cranes, six trucks and numerous pilot vehicles, but midway through the move, disaster struck when they received conflicting information about one of the resource consents. “The day of the second move the council notified us that we needed a resource consent after all,” says Hayley. “Our worst nightmare was starting to materialise.
“We had some of the house in Auckland and some of it in Manawatu and were unable to proceed with the project.”
After three weeks with the house split between two locations, Chris and Hayley were back on track and with the house pieced back together on its new Auckland plot, they were ready to renovate. “Managing the budget was the single most important task that impacted the whole project,” says Hayley who upcycled many materials to stay under budget. The couple spent $1.4 million over the course of the three-year renovation, which included the cost of the purchase and relocation.
“Acquiring a house of this type took us thirty years of careful decisions with a lot of frugal living and going without.
“As such, our interior style is a bit traditional and a bit modern, making old work with new as almost all our furniture has been gifted to us over many years.”
They combined an altered floor plan with a simple neutral colour palette that allows the form, flow and function of the house to come to the fore and encourages the decorative pieces to tell their own stories. They painted the interior walls in Resene Quarter Truffle; a gentle taupe grey, and trim in Resene Quarter Sea Fog. The elegant timber staircase, exposed beams and wooden flooring took a week to strip back and were finished in Resene Qristal Clear polyurethane matte varnish. The ceilings, which were initially painted dark brown, were painted in fresh Resene Quarter Sea Fog.
“The element that made selecting the colours truly difficult was the fact that by this stage I was project managing the renovation from London,” says Hayley, who made the move when Chris’ job took them abroad midway through the project. “I learnt that it’s far easier to take on a renovation of this magnitude when you live in the same country!”
During this time the project took another hit, literally, when a tornado tore through the area ripping off the front third of the roof. But with every weather bomb cloud there’s a silver lining and when the roof was repaired through their insurance, the couple took advantage of the scaffolding to paint the exterior. They used Resene Double Truffle on the weatherboards and Resene Half Sea Fog on the trims and fretwork.
“The plan was to take advantage of the scaffolding and paint the exterior while it was up,” says Hayley.
“We liked the idea of using a grey but found it quite difficult to find one that would fit our rural coastal surrounding without making the house look like a giant navy vessel in a dry dock.
“With the help of a Resene colour consultant I received some large sample swatches in the mail and some computer rendered colour schemes which helped immensely.
“Once we had settled on Resene Double Truffle for the exterior, which we believed brought a sense of elegance and grace to the home, we decided to continue the theme inside by using Resene Quarter Truffle for all interior rooms.”
Hayley and Chris strove to achieve elegance and balance with their colour palette. They wanted to maintain the villa’s stately charm while still achieving balance between the urban and rural setting, land and water. Hayley also wanted to reflect the two cultures at the time of the building’s post-colonial Victorian construction, reflecting the European settlers while including the mana whenua of the Waitete Pa near their farm.
The doors, originally from the old Catholic Convent of Mercy in Palmerston North, have been resurrected with vibrant red Resene Pohutukawa. “We decided to keep the red doors as this is the original colour they are believed to have been in 1911,” says Hayley.
“Red is one of my favourite colours and we chose Resene Pohutukawa because our home is surrounded by Pohutukawa trees both on our property and along the water’s edge.
“The Resene Pohutukawa doors reflecting our natural environment is just another example of the balance we wanted to achieve.”
Despite the incredible extent of their renovations, Hayley’s not quite ready to put down the paintbrush. “I love the rich, moody feeling of Resene St Kilda and Resene Teal Blue and I would love to use this colour in a room at some stage,” says Hayley. “We are still just a ‘house in a paddock’ right now, as we don’t have the resources to bring our landscape designs to life.”
But for now, Hayley is relishing in the peaceful elegance of her new home, spending some much-needed downtime relaxing on the upstairs veranda painted in Resene Quarter Grey Friars. “Up there you can take in the 360-degree views of the water. It’s a truly restful area of the house where you can drift away in your thoughts.”
Hayley and Chris hope that Huntly House can serve the community. Not only is it their family home but they also allow the house to be booked for local and community events. Recently Hayley and Chris opened up their home to Te Kiwi Maia – The Courageous Kiwi, a charity which supports first responders such as fire service who have sustained physical or psychological injuries as a result of their service, used the house free of charge for a wellness retreat. In the future they hope their home can be a place for first responders and their families to visit to help them rest, recover and reconnect.
“Restoring Huntly House has been a project that has captured the hearts and minds of many people across New Zealand,” says Hayley. “We never intended to keep Huntly House only for ourselves.
“A home of such presence has the potential to bring a lot of joy to a lot of people, and the peaceful ambience allows ‘blue sky thinking’ to happen – we’ve seen that with many of the workshops that have been hosted here.”
Top tip: Resene Qristal Clear is a hardwearing polyurethane ideal for native timber banisters, ceilings and skirtings in heritage homes. It comes in flat, satin and gloss finishes and Resene Qristal ClearFloor, a highly durable clear coat ideal for native floors.
Hayley’s advice on relocating a home
“Banks will not lend to purchase a relocatable home so before you even start you need to make sure you are able to finance the purchase and relocation to piling stage. The next step in the process should be to check if you are able to put a relocatable building on your land. A building consent is not required to remove a building from your land, but it is required to put one on. If covenants are in place, then a resource consent may be required along with an approved building consent before you can proceed. Check your title or with a planner at your local council offices.”
History of Huntly House
Huntly House, was built in 1911 by Scottish immigrant Adam Burges and his wife Grace. Adam came from a village called Huntly in Aberdeenshire, Scotland and named his home after it. Originally built on a one-acre plot of land in the middle of Palmerston North, Huntly House was the first house to have its own electricity supply in the city. The metal fretwork and finials across the roof were removed during World War I due to a metal shortage and were replaced by the more geometric timber fretwork and balustrades of the time. Adam Burges died in 1917 having only spent six years in the house but his wife Grace remained in the home until her death in 1942.
Huntly House flowed through many phases of life from a private hotel to lodging house. At one point it was a mechanics workshop and in the main lounge floor you can still clearly see a large rectangle where the floorboards had been removed for an old grease pit and it was also a car sales yard.
In the early 1980s, Gerald and Gerda Borgonje won a tender to purchase and relocate Huntly House to the outskirts of Palmerston North. The family saved the home from becoming scrap timber, doing extensive renovations. Chris and Hayley are the third family to own Huntly House and intend to keep the home alive for generations to come.
Huntly House sits proudly on its new plot of land in Clark’s Beach. The roof is in COLORSTEEL® Grey Friars with large eave brackets and veranda post collars in Resene Half Grey Friars. The gables, finials, bargeboards and exterior trim are in Resene Half Sea Fog and the main weatherboards are in Resene Double Truffle. The raised vertical and horizontal panelling is in Resene Truffle and the doors add a pop of red in Resene Pohutukawa.
The home overlooks the surrounding farmland and harbour. One of Hayley’s favourite features, the veranda, is in refined Resene Half Sea Fog with painted flooring in Resene Quarter Grey Friars. The post collars are in Resene Half Grey Friars.
Hayley decided to celebrate the new elements of the house, such as the French doors and barn doors, by painting them in timeless Resene Quarter Sea Fog.The walls are in elegant Resene Quarter Truffle.
In one of Huntly House’s many lives, the home was a mechanics workshop. There once was a grease pit where the main lounge now stands. The floor and ceiling are finished in Resene Qristal Clear polyurethane matte varnish and the walls are in Resene Quarter Truffle with Resene Quarter Sea Fog on the trims and French doors leading to the hall.
The elegant stairway and timber features are finished in Resene Qristal Clear polyurethane matte varnish which complements the walls in Resene Quarter Truffle. Not only is Huntly House a family home, but Hayley and Chris also allow the house to be booked for local and community events, Airbnb accommodation, day and residential workshops and, in the near future, weddings.
The kitchen is Hayley’s favourite example of upcycling, with a mantlepiece recovered from the coal range and introduced rimu accents on the island bench and cavity sliding door into the scullery. The walls are in Resene Quarter Truffle and the trim and cabinetry are in Resene Quarter Sea Fog.
Huntly House rents out a portion of the home as an Airbnb. The weatherboards are in Resene Double Truffle and trim in Resene Half Sea Fog. The Resene Pohutukawa door mimics the vibrancy of the surrounding natural landscape and the deck is in Resene Quarter Grey Friars.
The relocation from Palmerston North to Auckland involved travelling across multiple provinces and railway lines during the night with curfews of 5am. When the house arrived, Hayley and Chris had the opportunity to select the number of their house. They chose ‘111’ which, combined with the name of their road, symbolised ‘a safe harbour.’
Whilst renovating, the couple made changes to the floor plan to improve the flow and multi-functional use of the house. The home now has seven bedrooms, six bathrooms, two full kitchens, and a new kitchenette, scullery and laundry. This clever floorplan now means the house can be split into three independent sections.
Huntly House has been relocated twice in its long lifetime, once to the outskirts of Palmerston North in the 80s and again when Hayley and Chris moved it to Auckland. The process involved splitting the home into six separate pieces and transporting it by truck along State Highway 1.
Published: 15 Jul 2021
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colour to use or need colour
advice, try out the Resene
Ask a Colour Expert service.