HOMETOPIA insights


What's Your NZ House Style?


What’s your ideal home? An ornate villa, a contemporary post-industrial number, or something else? What appeals to some appals others. Here are six types of homes – love ‘em or hate ‘em - that you are likely to come across on any New Zealand house-hunt.

The Worker’s Cottage 

The classic small wooden cottage, built as early worker accommodation from about the 1860s, is symmetrical and unadorned. It originally had either two or four rooms, with a central front door and a sash window either side. It might also have a lean-to at the back, or a verandah on the front, and as the family and its wealth grew, it could have a second storey added.
(Ponsonby, Parnell) 

The Villa 

From about 1870 to 1910 the villa was the predominant form of residential architecture. It had the basic room plan of the cottage, but with the addition of a central hallway, and with the front rooms extended out slightly under a gable to create bay windows. It also had varying amounts of Gothic – and Classical – inspired ornamentation such as fretwork, turned wood, elaborately patterned pressed-metal ceilings and elaborate chimney pots.
The most common forms of villa are square-front (where the verandah runs the full width of the house), bay villa (with a faceted bay window to one side), and a return verandah villa (with verandahs on two sides).
Many New Zealanders love their character, high ceilings, large rooms and pretty street appeal. These days renovators favour opening up the rear of villas to create spacious, light, modern living areas.
(Devonport, Mt Eden, Onehunga)

The Cottage 

Between the two world wars, New Zealand fell in love with the English cottage style. Many of the elements and ideals were taken from 19th century Britain’s arts and crafts movement, with its appreciation of hand-crafted construction, furniture and tools. Houses from this period are often two-storeyed, with steep asymmetrical roofs, and picturesque features like small-paned windows, arches and tall chimneys which narrow as they go up the side of the house. 
(Freemans Bay, Epsom) 

The Bungalow 

The California bungalow started to make its presence felt in about 1910. The villas (transitional) now had flatter roof angles, simplified verandah detailing and casement windows and fanlights instead of sash windows. In less than a decade, the villa was firmly consigned to history. The bungalow, with its wide eaves, exposed rafters and timber panelled interiors reigned supreme. It often had an enclosed porch with a shingled façade, the bay windows were rounded and, again, shingle clad. The windows and rooms were sometimes small, so these houses had a reputation for having dark interiors.
(Epsom, Remuera) 


Moderne / art deco 

After World War I a new, function-oriented style evolved internationally. Moderne was the populist version of Le Corbusier’s clean, simple forms. Moderne houses have flat roofs (or they appear to: sometimes they are low-pitched roofs, their slope hidden behind parapets), walls finished in stucco and often curving around corners.
Although the pure version of the style is undecorated, Moderne homes often have art deco-inspired embellishments as part of the wall plastering, such as horizontal bands and chevrons. The Spanish Mission style was an extension of this, with adobe-style plastered walls, arched entrances and tiled detailing.
(Parnell, Mt Eden) 

The Classic State House

Built between 1935 and 1949, these plain but sturdy cottages were built in communities throughout New Zealand. They had tiled hip roofs, weatherboard, brick or stucco cladding, timber joinery, a simple layout, and were built on large sections. Many of these houses have now been sold off by successive governments, and have been renovated by their private owners. 
(Absolutely everywhere)


Since then…

Modern New Zealand houses are a mix of all influences and styles. In the 1950s and 60s, modest weatherboard homes were built on the classic quarter acre section. In the late 1960s and 1970s, houses changed with a move to open-plan living, rumpus rooms and internal access garaging. Since then, anything goes, from Mediterranean-style numbers to modern, industrial-style and anything in between.


For more advice on buying by Stephen Hart of Hometopia and Auckland Homefinders, go to BNZ Good Home.

Related Images

  • What's Your NZ House Style?

Post Rating


There are currently no comments, be the first to post one.

Post Comment

Name (required)

Email (required)


Enter the code shown above: