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A Masterful Update Of New Zealand’s Famous Brake House

Architecture

Amelia Barnes
Monday 3rd May 2021

‘When we came to the carpet… we wanted it to be natural; we wanted 100 per cent wool fibre, and we wanted a New Zealand brand.’ – Eric Young, former custodian of The Brake House.

Sympathetically renovating an architecturally-significant home requires working with designers and suppliers who thoroughly understand its importance.

Eric and Michelle Young, the former custodians of The Brake House – one of New Zealand’s most acclaimed homes – took on this responsibility when recently updating the heritage-listed Titirangi property (located about 13 kilometres south-west of Auckland’s city centre). Every detail was painstakingly considered to ensure the project’s success, down to the rimu kitchen cabinets (in keeping with the original), and the installation of locally made wool carpets by Bremworth.

‘The Brake House is organic – it lives, it breathes – and if it’s not shown the love, it can show,’  says Eric. ‘If you see yourself as an owner of The Brake House, you’re kind of missing the point. What you are is a custodian for as a long as you have it, then you hand it off to some other guardian.’

Indeed, the 1976 property has a more distinguished history than most. The original owner of the property was photographer Brian Brake, who commissioned architect Ron Sang to design the east-Asian and modernist influenced home as a series of elevated glass pavilions. Brian’s illustrious career included the first Oscar nomination in New Zealand film history for the 1955 short documentary Snows of Aorangi that he directed; and capturing acclaimed photos of China in the late ‘50s, and India in the ‘60s.

Today, The Brake House is an international architectural icon, earning the NZIA Enduring Architectural Award in 2001. 

Refitting the house with all new yet timeless carpets was a key element of the recent renovation, guided by interior designer Katie Lockhart

The client explains, ‘When we came to the carpet, there were a couple of decisions we made. We wanted it to be natural; we wanted 100 per cent wool fibre, and we wanted a New Zealand brand, and that sort of began and ended at Bremworth.’ 

Katie suggested the rich, warm tones of Bremworth’s ‘Galet Sienna’, which was coincidentally a close match to the original deep brown ‘70s carpet of the house.

Locally made from New Zealand wool, Bremworth’s special felting process ensures a thicker, stronger and more luxurious woollen yarn than standard wool spun products. The company also recently ceased producing synthetic carpets entirely due to wool being higher performing, safer, and more sustainable. 

The now completed renovations of The Brake Houses are so sympathetic, it’s hard to detect the original features from those most recently installed. As the client says of the carpet, ‘The solution presented itself, and the solution is beautiful. It has complete context in this house. It is of its time, but it’s also of every time,’ 

Visit the Bremworth website to find out about their New Zealand made, premium wool carpets and rugs.

Photography by David Straight. Videography by Darryl Ward.

Bremworth’s ‘Galet Sienna’ carpet in the renovated Brake House. Photo – David Straight. Styling – Katie Lockhart

The new carpet is coincidentally a close colour match to the original deep brown ‘70s carpet of the house. Photo – David Straight. Styling – Katie Lockhart

Locally made from New Zealand wool, Bremworth’s special felting process ensures a thicker, stronger and more luxurious woollen yarn than standard wool spun products. Photo – David Straight. Styling – Katie Lockhart

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