Tai Tapu

An extensive renovation in rural Canterbury was a collective effort by long-time collaborators, beautifully brought to fruition by Gregg Architectural Builders.


Project details

“No pressure,” says Craig Wilson, project manager at Gregg Architectural Builders. “When you’re asked to do the home of an award-winning designer, you’ve got to be on your toes.” That interior designer is Angelique Armstrong of Armstrong Interiors in Ōtautahi Christchurch. This extensive renovation that saw a neglected brick 1980s house transformed into a modern farmstead is the result of her vision.

If anyone was up for the job, it’s Craig, who has the mix of creativity and organisation that only years of experience can bring. Not to mention Gregg Architectural Builders has a long history of working alongside Angelique on many client projects. “I’ve worked with her for the past 10 years,” he says. “She’s very easy to get along with.” In fact, he says he knows her so well by now he could make some calls on decisions on her behalf, speeding up the build process. “It comes down to knowing what the end result needs to be.”

Project details

Her vision was more of a journey, with the plans evolving and the scope increasing as Angelique’s ideas developed along the way. But Craig says Gregg Architectural Builders was up for the challenge. Site foreman Will Roberts and the team took it head-on. “We would meet regularly to go over everything. I send out a full written agenda with items that I’d like to cover off, two days prior to the meetings, so everyone’s got time to think about it. There could be 12 to 15 items on the agenda, and then I send the minutes back on everything we’ve decided.” But that’s not all.

“I’m always thinking 12 to 14 weeks ahead,” says Craig. “So by the time anything pops up, we’ve already made a good decision on what we’re doing, so we’re not rushing. Angelique knows because she’s done it before, but usually the first thing I say to clients is not to think of everything at once. This is going to take at least a year, so we’re going to be well ahead and do a little at a time because if you think of all of it at once, it’s just going to be too overwhelming.” With such a cool head prevailing, the renovation went smoothly for a big undertaking. “We added approximately 80sqm to the living room, as well as a new double garage and mud room. There’s also the pool, pool house, gym and sauna,” says Craig. The house is now a T-shape with the old house running down the middle.

The original house held a few surprises, such as old coal ranges, but there wasn’t much tosave. “We’ve kept the original brickwork,” says Craig. “We limelocked, bagged and whitewashed all the brick. But apart from some internal framing and some roof structures, that’s probably all that’s left of the bungalow.”

Project details

The final effect is seamless. “When you walk through the door, you’d never know,” says Craig. “It looks like it was never interfered with.” Angelique is of course delighted with her new-look home. “It’s so gorgeous,” she says. When she and her fiancé Keith bought the 22ha farm three years ago, it hadn’t been well maintained. It was overrun with rats, and overgrown trees and shelter belts blocked all views and light. But they could see its potential. “It was perfect for us. It felt like a really tranquil piece of land. The property has two very large oak trees on it that we would estimate at 150 years old. That’s really special. We couldn't create that in our lifetime, so it was really important to me to make a feature of them.”

An early idea was to build a brand new house on the back of the section, but after living in the bungalow for a year, the renovation plan developed despite the huge amount of work it needed.“The layout of the house is quite obvious when you’re doing a renovation: what’s going to work and what flows. With a home of large proportions I knew it was important to have a large entrance. And for my partner Keith, it was very important to have a large garage integrated with the house. We are so happy with the garage: it looks like an old barn,” says Angelique.

Project details

A mud room and large laundry room for farm living were essential. Angelique also wanted the kitchen to be the centre feature as it embraced all the design elements – the location of the kitchen, the added skylights and the potager garden for the morning sun. Armstrong Interiors is known for high-end residential design, and Angelique’s brief for herself was for an eclectic yet understated, relaxed homestead. It’s so much harder designing a project for yourself because you know all the options available to you. I did a lot of overthinking for our home, but working with Craig took a great deal of stress out. It’s very important to have a good project manager. There’s nothing I’d change. It’s a wonderful house to live in.”

The trick is joining forces with trusted friends. She’s known Colin and Katey Gregg, owners of Gregg Architectural Builders, for many years. Similarly, when plans for the renovation were needed, Angelique went to another long-term collaborator, architectural designer Simon Johnson of Figure and Ground.

“I’m not sure I’ve been part of a bigger renovation,” says Simon. “The house is now almost totally unrecognisable.” Simon says his brief was around creating a flexible family home that would allow for entertaining. “In terms of the look and feel, it was a bit more of a challenge with the lack of character in the original building. We couldn’t really draw much from that for inspiration.”However there were plenty of functional elements to consider first.

“In a way, it’s sometimes easier to deal with an inner-city site with a whole lot of constraints because that informs the design. In a rural setting, you have limited constraints. But we were still dealing with an existing building, so we had to make sure that we were making sensible decisions on what aspects we’re adding to or improving, to limit unnecessary costs. And in this case it was reasonably easy,” says Simon.

Project details

One main issue was the council floor level requirements, necessitating some negotiating. “Another was the orientation of the house towards the main road. That informed how we oriented outdoor living spaces from an acoustic perspective, trying to create a barrier to the road. We did that through the location of the pool house. Outdoor decks also capture the afternoon sun, creating somewhat of an outdoor sanctuary.”

Simon says he was very mindful during the design of the extensions that they were scaled to the proportions of the existing house. Orientation of the garage wing was also important. “It makes a feature of the forecourt and arrival experience through some very large existing trees.”

The architectural aesthetics were very much influenced by Angelique’s plans for the interior design. “We’ve worked with Angelique on previous projects, so we know her well. She has very strong ideas, which I’d like to think we’re very complementary to as an architectural practice. In this case, with the client being the interior designer, it was easy because we knew where the delineation was between architecture and interiors right from the start. Once we understood what Angelique wanted to do from an interior perspective, we could then work through a solution from an architectural perspective.”

Project details

To Figure and Ground, that meant giving the house a slight contemporary twist on a country look. The unattractive brick was kept for its texture, and newer parts of the house were clad in board and batten. “We were really happy with the outcome. For us to tie a successful architectural envelope around a considered interior design aesthetic is amazing. We were glad to be part of it,” says Simon.

The Gregg Architectural Builders team, specialists in high-end architectural builds, were also happy to be responsible for the project and to work collaboratively with both Angelique and Figure and Ground. “It’s been a really good, smooth run,” says Craig. He also enjoyed the creative aspect. The sauna, for example, built of Alaskan cedar, started out as a simple idea. “I love a pencil sketch. It’s something that’s completely raw. That was something that Angelique and I worked through to get the end result, which is pretty stunning.” And that could sum up the entire project. “It’s something that everyone should be very proud of,” says Craig.

The kitchen, by Woodshack Kitchens in Rolleston, features Melteca Classic Oak by Laminex. The island joinery is lacquered with Aalto Smoke Screen. Around a dozen skylights were added to the house to improve the amount of natural light coming in. “That was a job in itself,” says Craig Wilson of Gregg Architectural Builders.

Interior designer and homeowner Angelique Armstrong has opted for drama in the bathrooms. The marbled tile in the powder room is Epoque 21 in Arabescatto Antique from Brymac Tiles. Chosen for their quality feel and durability, countertops throughout the house were handcrafted by Shane Boyd Granite Benchtops.

Angelique is a fan of Morris & Co wallpaper. She says she brought in some eclectic elements: “But I love everything in the house, so when it’s together it’s quite stunning.”

Bringing beauty: Armagh Decorators in Christchurch wallpapered, painted and oiled timber, working inside and out to bring to life homeowner and interior designer Angelique Armstrong’s vision. As a trusted provider, Armagh Decorators has worked with Angelique on a number of projects.

Thinking of building or renovating?

Let our craft realise your vision.

© 2024 Gregg BuildersWebsite by Plato Creative