The Christchurch Grand Designs house is “an apartment for adults, not a house for children”

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One of Christchurch’s more modest but distinctive facades sits against the Cranmer Square footpath. Mention the ocher-red wooden building and the answer will probably be “oh, the red house” or “the bridge club”, while others might remember it as a doctor’s office or a property that has. featured on New Zealand House and Garden Tours last season. . The property has also added notoriety as’ the house on Great designs”.

Jo Appleyard sets the table for Christmas dinner at her Christchurch home.

Anna McLeod House and Garden / NZ

Jo Appleyard sets the table for Christmas dinner at her Christchurch home.

Take a closer look, and what appears to be a neighboring house – a tall, angular gray building sitting behind the bulbous arms of an ancient pollard elm – is actually attached. After the original building sank in the Canterbury earthquakes in 2011, the property was bought by a couple who restored the historic red building and linked it to a modern extension. Their efforts, trials and tribulations were televised on Grand Designs NZ in 2018. A year later, they put it on the market.

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Max Bremner, a local businessman with a range of bars and restaurants, took a look and fell in love with the new abode. His partner, Jo Appleyard, a lawyer, was equally in love.

Max and Jo were looking for a house for adults. They had been together for seven years and had five children between them, now aged 19 to 30. “Max and I weren’t going to live together until our kids had all left the house,” says Jo. “This is an apartment for adults not a house for children.”

The property dates back to 1864, when Dugald Macfarlane, a colorful Scottish veteran of the Napoleonic Wars, built a two-story brick cottage that also served as premises for his wine and spirits business. The next major occupant was the famous architect Samuel Hurst Seager, who added the distinctive red annex in 1900. After being rented out by an estate of doctors, it was purchased by the Cranmer Bridge Club which enjoyed a half- century before the Canterbury earthquakes played their own part. devastating hand, destroying the original brick building but leaving the wooden part standing.

Max and Jo inherited a striking assimilation of old and new in a 520m² house that almost fills the 600m² section. They wanted to put their own imprint on the interior and gave the job to Ann-Marie Appleton of Frobisher.

Wood connects the Victorian original with the modern addition;  a rare mahogany-case grandfather clock and blackened antique cabinet, both from Holliday & Sons antiques, flank the annex hallway while a red mixed media work by Alison Coulthurst (left) and a linear design by Ceara Metlikovec on the back wall complete the two separate spaces.

Anna McLeod House and Garden / NZ

Wood connects the Victorian original with the modern addition; a rare mahogany-case grandfather clock and blackened antique cabinet, both from Holliday & Sons antiques, flank the annex hallway while a red mixed media work by Alison Coulthurst (left) and a linear design by Ceara Metlikovec on the back wall complete the two separate spaces.

This was the third house that Ann-Marie worked on with Jo, the first a villa in Merivale and the second a family home in Fendalton. This brief couldn’t be more different, and there was also the Max factor.

The previous owners, both photographers, painted the interior black to evoke the look of an old photo album. Max liked the dark; Jo was not that in love. Max wanted to return the annex to his time; Jo didn’t want to live in the 19th century.

Fortunately Ann-Marie loves nothing more than provocative juxtapositions and the result is a happy blend of old and new, dark and light, industrial and glamor, Max and Jo, mixed with style and humor. .

The red annex has two rooms on either side of a central corridor. A sumptuous dining room is on one side while on the other side is Max’s retreat. “Max wanted it to be like an era men’s club with a modern twist,” says Ann-Marie.

The bridge club is referenced with original playing cards wallpaper on the ceiling (to the dismay of the wallpaper holder) while striped walls, leather chairs and Max’s collection of cricket accessories add to the look. ‘atmosphere. Duguld Macfarlane would be happy here, sipping whiskey and telling derring-do stories.

The short walk down the hall becomes a giant leap in time as the intimate Victorian world opens up to a large modern atrium with a steel staircase leading to the kitchen and upstairs living areas. Here, moody wall color pairs with wood and greenery, plus plush fabrics and eye-catching artwork.

When Max found out that a golf friend was making neon signs, they ordered a brightly lit card to adorn the stairwell. It features, of course, the King and Queen of Hearts and the only debate was which direction it would go. Jo was at home when she settled in so naturally the queen reigned.

The master bedroom also has royal tones with not one but two walk-in closets. “The original walk-in closet wasn’t big enough for the two of us, so now it’s Max’s,” says Jo, who claimed an adjoining bedroom and converted it into a glamorous living room.

The characteristic wall of the rimu of the master bedroom recalls the wood of the original annex;  Resene Gravel walls are a neutral sheet for Deidre Copeland's Nest Egg portrait and Bianca Lorenne bed linen.

Anna McLeod House and Garden / NZ

The characteristic wall of the rimu of the master bedroom recalls the wood of the original annex; Resene Gravel walls are a neutral sheet for Deidre Copeland’s Nest Egg portrait and Bianca Lorenne bed linen.

They both love being in the heart of the city. “I can’t imagine living in Fendalton now. It feels like miles away, ”says Jo, for whom Cranmer Square is a familiar playground. Her alma mater, Christchurch Girls’ High School, was at a site across the road until 1986. Fittingly, their first big gathering in the house was a reunion with 110 classmates.

A municipal publication describes the building as “a vital link with the city’s past” and which “unashamedly reveals the extent of its transformations”. Ironically, this was written before most of it was wiped out by earthquakes.

But it could also describe the incarnation of the 21st century which, as Max and Jo’s blended four-generation family prepare to reunite for Christmas, is not just a link to the past, but a cry for it. future of the city.

Q&A with Jo Appleyard and Max Bremner

This Christmas we will be: Busy with our blended four-generation family including my parents Trish and Dick, Max Anna’s three daughters, Jess and Millie and my daughter and son Annie and James as well as their partners, Anna’s children Natalie and Oliver and mother of the daughters of Max Carol. (Jo)

We are going to eat : Traditional ham and turkey and new potatoes from Jo’s father.

The first thing we do on Christmas morning: Look in our stockings to see what Santa has delivered. These days, it seems to focus on the vouchers that can be spent online. (Max)

I hope Santa Claus brings me: Golf balls and vinyl records. (Max) Anything Jo Malone. (Jo)

The day after Christmas, we will be: To play golf. (Max) At shoe sales. (Jo)

Best cheap buy: The chandeliers in the red dining room look expensive but were good value for money. (Max)

Best place in the house: In the window overlooking all the activity of Cranmer Square – which kept us entertained during the lockdown. (Max)

The best thing about this area: Proximity to the CBD, the ability to walk out the door of a cafe for breakfast or buy a new lipstick from Ballantynes ​​on a whim. (Jo)

The best local restaurants: Well this has to be one of Max’s own bars and restaurants for a cocktail in Kong, pizza at Original Sin, jazz at Fat Eddies, or a beer at Bog Irish Bar. (Jo)


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