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WORDS Anna Scaife PHOTOS Sarah Rowlands

During a major renovation, the bumpy journey to the satisfaction of a finished result often reveals surprises along the way – welcome or otherwise – prompting a change of plan or a rethink.

In the case of this moody and elegant downstairs powder room, a seemingly mundane storage area sparked the inspiration for a superbly practical use of extra space; delivered with design flair to stunning effect.

The project, a substantial renovation of an earthquake damaged character home in Merivale, has been thoughtfully planned to retain and enhance the existing traditional elements of the property while adding the comforts and luxuries of modern living. The graceful two-storey home features high ceilings, expansive, airy rooms and a grand entranceway with a stairwell leading to the bedrooms upstairs.

The layout includes the main family bathroom plus exquisite ensuite supporting the master and two further bedrooms upstairs. A third bathroom was needed downstairs for use from the nearby living areas, kitchen and dining space, and home office.

Underneath the staircase, the original layout included a sizeable space formerly used as a storage cupboard. The owner’s creative brainwave during the planning stages led to the addition of this hidden gem, a guest powder room under the stairs to include a shower, vanity and WC. All that was needed was an adjustment to the placement of the back wall to accommodate the shower.

With no natural light able to sneak into this space, the unique and beautiful room gives you the slightest feeling of being inside a glamourous cave. This cohesive effect reflects the choice of deep colours, sumptuous finishes and strategically placed lighting. The walls and floor are tiled in Uniquestone Nite 600 x 1200 tiles, supplied by Brymac Tiles.

A considered approach to creating the appearance of natural stone throughout led to the pairing of the Uniquestone porcelain tile with Travertine natural stone from CDK Stone.

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The porcelain tile emulates the look of natural stone perfectly, making them the ideal partnership. Small spotlights placed in the shower enhance the moody feel. Adding to the opulence is the classically- styled fittings from the Robertson Bathware range selected from Oakleys Plumbing Supplies. The taps, showerhead, roll holder and towel rail are all finished in polished gold which in some lights appears to be tinged with a hint of pink, adding a softness to the overall effect.

Combining contemporary touches with a small part of this home’s history, the Rangoon Porcelain Vessel basin perches atop the beautiful wooden vanity which is made from a piece of original timber from the house and adds elements warmth and texture. The completed look includes LED strip lighting illuminating the mirror and vanity.

The idea to re-purpose this utilitarian space, hidden away and under-utilised in a darkened corner, opened up possibilities to put into play creative ideas to make the most of a unique space. A room that would have continued to collect dust has a new lease on life, and there was no need to borrow space from other areas of the house to accommodate a bathroom.

Driven by necessity, often it’s the limitations of a project, in this case, a sloping ceiling and lack of square meterage, that creates the most surprising, and delightful results.

HomeJoshua Brosnahan