Something old, something new

A fireplace nook in a partially restored Hurst Seager cottage was enough to convince Julia Ashmore-Smith that she had found the very best home in Eyreton. Her husband Mark was not quite so enthusiastic. Now that the home has been extended, renovated and totally revamped, they both love the makeover that seamlessly blends original and new features in an inspired and contemporary upgrade.


When Mark and Julia viewed the cottage in 2008, Julia knew she could transform it. The 1930s bungalow had been relocated from central Christchurch to the country 15 years prior and although it had been in situ for more than a decade, it still looked like ‘a cottage in a paddock’ Julia says. A friend suggested they contact DJ Hewitt to discuss a renovation. They liked his approach and his obvious attention to detail. There was just one small fly in the ointment. “Daryl told us they don’t normally do renovations”, Julia laughs.

Fast forward eight years, and the home has been totally transformed by a DJ Hewitt team that turned out to be exceptional at doing renovations. “Rob, our builder, was phenomenal”, Julia says. “He had such a practical approach and a very keen builder’s eye. He knew what things would cost and that practical component enabled us to get exactly what we wanted. With his help we achieved a perfect blend of old and new”.

A sweeping circular drive leads to the home surrounded by a superb garden. By night, illuminated specimen trees, a roaring outdoor fire and a warmly lit pavilion adjoining the immaculately presented home create an appealing first impression. The front door opens to reveal a striking interior that blends features of the original cottage – wood panelling, leadlight windows and ornate architraves – with bold black and white paintwork, décor and soft furnishings. The monochrome palette provides a perfect backdrop to an impressive art collection. “Art is our vice”, says Julia. “We wanted enough wall space to hang our pieces and we wanted the art to provide the colour”.

Many original features have been retained, updated, repainted and in some cases repositioned to maximise their impact in the remodelled home. The fireplace is still Julia’s favourite spot, especially now that the dark wood panelling has been painted fresh white and the inbuilt bench seats topped with plush cushions. Julia had to stand her ground regarding her decision to paint out the panelling. “Nobody wanted me to paint over the stained wood panels. I had to push hard but now that it’s done, everybody loves it”.

To see more about this home visit our Eyreton Showcase Page

During the makeover Mark and Julia lived on site in a self-contained studio. They were able to participate in ongoing decisions that needed to be made as the renovation evolved. As with many renovations, there were a few surprises and issues that needed to be resolved ‘on the wing’. Working alongside experienced builders, who totally understood their desire to create a warm and modern home, that retained the charm and character of the original place was integral to the outcome. “Rob was a craftsman.  He got the character of this place and he listened to us. We had total trust in his workmanship and his advice”.

Window joinery has been replaced with double-glazed aluminium joinery made to match the profile and style of the original wooden frames. Leadlight windows have been repositioned and new oversize french doors have been fabricated with wide profile aluminium. Exterior cladding on an extension off the kitchen combines Linea with the original weatherboards so seamlessly that it is difficult to spot the difference.

Eyreton Home 06_1

During the renovation, Julia and Mark moved the former Eyreton Cricket and Tennis Pavilion, onto their property. Located in a nearby paddock and in a state of total disrepair, that too has undergone a major upgrade by team DJ Hewitt.  “The veranda is the ideal spot for a gin after a day in the garden”, Julia says. Mark agrees “We love this place and
we are very proud of what we have created”.

Want more information about how we can help you with your renovation?

Home Design: Back2back Architects