Before Paul and Loren pressed ‘go’ on their ambitious build at Millbrook, Central Otago, they seriously considered buying and renovating an old home in France or perhaps the UK. Something historic and formal would have fit the bill nicely. As it was, the 900 square-metre luxury residence they eventually constructed alongside the Millbrook Golf Course, near Arrowtown, is in that mould, albeit with far fewer years on the clock. This is not your typical casual Kiwi second home, but something more traditional, with actual rooms rather than endless open plan. The slate roof tiles are from Wales, the light fixtures from the UK, the wallpaper from France.
And yet the house, which was designed by Michael Wyatt of Queenstown’s Wyatt & Gray Architects, is very much at home in its specific New Zealand setting of schist hills and tussock grasses. For a start, it incorporates all the key elements of the Central Otago vernacular – steeply-pitched roofs, external and internal schist stone walls and weathered timber. “We wanted the warmth, texture and permanence that schist brings,” explains Loren of their choice of the main building material.
Similarly, the design was developed around the environment and bringing the outside in. Extensive floor-to-ceiling glazing captures jawdropping views of the Remarkables and Coronet Peak, while a mix of bi-folds, French doors and sliding doors allows for easy access to various outdoor entertainment and dining areas.
They chose from the Altherm range, including casement windows and shutters throughout. Given the southern setting, keeping the house warm in winter was a priority – hence the use of double-glazed Low E Excel glazing, as well as Metro Series ThermalHEART, with all the joinery finished in a matt black powdercoat. Extra large doors were selected for the entry to capture views of the adjacent golf course and tawny-coloured hills beyond.
“We wanted joinery that supported the formality of the design, but that wouldn’t disappear into the abundance of schist,” she says. “And the dark colour works beautifully against the grey-green of the local stone.”
Despite the mixing of several styles of windows and doors, visually there’s no lack of cohesion thanks to Altherm’s strong aesthetics.