Ode to the past – charm and character in every detail

This is a two storey, four bedroom family home, with steep pitched rooflines imitation slate tiles, generous windows and large bi-fold doors.  On the ground floor two lounge areas, kitchen and dining area.  Upstairs contains all four bedrooms.


  • Boyd Chamberlain

Charm and character in every detail

The owners of this home never planned on undertaking a building project until they lost their treasured 1920s home to seismic activity. They have now completed their stunning new family home, and concede that the entire project ‘went very well’.

Catherine Conway, Michael Hlavac and their children Alex, Oliver and Tilly adored the charm and character of their double brick villa, although they admit the floor plan was a little bit impractical. The home was damaged in 2010 and in 2011 the risk posed by falling chimneys and roofing tiles resulted in a red sticker and a demolition order. 

Catherine and Michael engaged architectural designer Boyd Chamberlain to help them design a home that replicated the charm and character of their former home, with a modern take. Boyd recommended DJ Hewitt for their bespoke rebuild project.

“Daryl was a little reticent at first,” Michael says. “We won him over quite quickly and he enjoyed the process of constructing this place. It was something quite different to what the DJ Hewitt team normally do.”


“It was a bit complicated as the house was gone, but it all turned out to be quite pain free. Cath had a clear idea of what she wanted,” Michael says. Catherine adds, “I wanted a character home. Our original home had lots of detail and pretty bits. I wanted a new home that included detail.” The impressive two storey wooden home, with steep pitched rooflines, imitation slate tiles, generous windows and large bi-fold doors reflects the American East Coast architectural style.

Michael and Catherine found a rental property on the same street and they were able to observe the progress of the project as they drove past the site daily. “We would pop in often. If ever there were any problems to discuss, the DJ Hewitt team always offered a solution,” Michael says.

Catherine was particularly impressed by the accuracy of the project pricing, especially now that she frequently hears stories from friends and colleagues experiencing cost overruns and budget blowouts in their building projects.

“Daryl was amazing with his quotes. The only items in our project that went up in cost were where we chose asphalt roofing tiles and solid timber flooring.” The rich, dark American oak flooring complements the antiques and collectibles throughout the home and the rustic look is well suited to the farmhouse ambience of the kitchen. The kitchen design was inspired by a magazine clipping featuring Sean Fitzpatrick’s kitchen that Catherine found in a copy of NZ House and Garden.

On first glance it is not obvious that the home is just a few years old. The classic lines of the architecture, combined with established garden plantings, give the property a sense of permanence and timelessness. Landscaping by Nick Rouse was undertaken at the same time the building was being done. Catherine’s advice to anyone contemplating building is to set aside a realistic budget for landscaping. “Landscaping always costs more than you think!”

The four-bedroom family home is generous in proportion. On the ground floor, two lounge areas flank the large kitchen and dining area. A high stud and oversize doors enhance the sense of spaciousness inside. Extensive windows offer views into the garden and bi-fold doors allow easy access to sheltered outdoor rooms. Upstairs, bedrooms feature angled and coved ceilings.

Wide skirting boards, a dado, pendant lights and chandeliers, white wooden blinds, sumptuous drapes and detail on door panels are just some of the features that contribute to the charm and appeal of the home.

For a couple that never planned to build, Michael and Catherine have created a very special suburban sanctuary, with the support and expertise of a number of skilled design-and-build specialists.

Daryl Hewitt

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