With years of experience working on high-end residential projects, Interior Designer Emma Hoyle is no stranger to the Victorian Villa. Characterised by its high ceilings, decorated verandas, wide hallways, and intricate ornate detailing; a villa is ultimately defined by the era in which it was built.
Making their way to New Zealand in the late 1800s, and typically constructed entirely of timber with ‘good bones’. They have an air of romance about them. Perhaps it’s the worldly charm that comes with age – the stories that live in the walls never to be told.
But while the bones hold strong, time takes its toll on the interiors as they see the coming and going of families and footprints, and the changing eras of style.
One such home, located in Auckland’s popular suburb of Mount Eden, found its way to Emma’s interior design studio.
“The existing interiors of this 1910 villa were cold and uninviting, and the kitchen and bathrooms were tired.” – Emma Hoyle.
The living areas were disjointed by inconsistent flooring – timber that transitioned to carpet, then transitioned back to timber. So, the first point of call for Emma was to rip up the old carpet and run beautiful, European oak flooring throughout all the key living areas.
“This added so much warmth and flow throughout the home”, Emma says.
Built in 1910, the home was an exquisite example of a traditional kiwi villa, with plenty of character and historic references that Emma wanted to respect.
“We preserved these elements by installing bolection mounting in the hallway, bathrooms and retaining all the original heritage features throughout the home.”
Anchor the Room
The living room featured an old open gas fire that was inefficient and dated. Emma upgraded the fire to an Escea DF960 from Stoke Auckland – a room-sealed gas fireplace with 5-star efficiency.
“I often use Escea in my projects, they are beautifully designed and crafted on our New Zealand shores. The team is great to work with. The DF960 was new on the market, and I particularly loved the scale of this model for the project” – Emma.
The fireplace sits on a striking, Arabescato Marble hearth with a custom surround, flanked by bespoke joinery. “The fireplace is now an anchor, a focal point in a living space that creates tone and solace.”
Give it Time
There is a lot to consider when renovating, especially if you are seeking to restore many elements of the design to their former glory. "Give yourself plenty of time for the initial design phase to explore your avenues and weigh up options. And pre order all your items well in advance if you can – particularly with the current building climate." Says Emma.
Make it Timeless
Arguably one of the most important elements of restoring a villa to its former glory is to do so in a way that would stand the ultimate test of time.
And making a design timeless, Emma says, is all about storytelling. "Timeless materiality and building a visual language for the entire house so that all the colours, finishes and cabinetry speak to each other.”
Investing in quality finishes and key furniture pieces help to reinforce the narrative, as does finding a curated balance of old and new.
“I also think sourcing lighting or furniture pieces that are from varying eras, both vintage, and contemporary build a beautiful story.”
Retrofitting with Stoke Fireplace Studio
The DF960 gas fireplace was supplied and installed by the team at Stoke Fireplace Studio, Auckland. Owner Malcolm Burton says that retrofitting, fitting a new fireplace into an existing cavity, is a regular occurrence at Stoke and one that the team has a lot of experience with.
After seeing photos and sometimes measurements of an existing fireplace, the team discusses options. In most instances the Escea DF700 is the best fit, however often the cavity lends itself to the DF960 or even the large DF990 gas fireplace.
“We talk through the benefits of the Escea DF Series. Because it was designed for renovating, it’s incredibly versatile – made specifically to fit into these cavities.” – Malcolm Burton.
Once the fireplace is confirmed, the team conducts site visits to assess exactly what’s going to be involved – looking at the existing structure and determining the history of the fireplace. From there, Stoke engages the multiple tradespeople involved – gas fitters, electricians, and their in-house builder. “We can do as little, or as much as you like”, Malcolm says.
While the process is complex, Stoke is able to make it as simple as possible – facilitating the process from concept to completion. However, it pays to be prepared and get in touch with the team before the winter season hits.
“Come and talk to us as soon as you can – don’t wait until it gets cold.”
Learn more about Escea’s DF Series Gas Fireplaces or see them at your nearest Stoke Showroom.