If there was ever a home with a story to tell, it’s this one! Situated in Clarks Beach, Hayley and Chris Parsons love their 640 square metre Victorian beauty that sits on 9 hectares of rural coastal land overlooks water on both sides.
As a military family the Parsons family moved regularly between domestic and international posts. But settling back in New Zealand, they wanted a rural lifestyle to raise their four children and Clarks Beach in Franklin ticked all the boxes.
It overlooks the water and is very peaceful. It always feels like you’re on holiday when you come home which is restful when you work in very busy roles. It is a great community.
Huntly House started its life back in 1911 in Central Palmerston North. It was the first house in Palmerston North to have its own electricity supply at some stage before 1924.
It was moved to another part of Palmerston North in the 1980’s and the Parsons were lucky enough to meet the man who owned it at that time. Thankfully he had left some cut marks in the house to remind him of his work – Hayley and Chris used the exact same ones and have kept those cuts visible in their home for the same reason.
The house flowed through many lives. People are often fascinated to learn that at one point it had been used as a mechanics workshop and the cut out for the grease pit remains in the main lounge!
The BIG move
The Parsons family initially decided to build a new, modern, single level dwelling on the site. This would have been simpler, faster, and cheaper than relocating a 3 storey, 111-year-old house!
However, they were totally enamoured with Huntly House the first time they saw her and ideas of ‘what-if’ started to flow if they owned the home. As with most house purchases, they became emotionally invested in the process and did everything needed to ensure the purchase happened. But it wasn’t easy – they were number 6 on the buyers list so had to convince the vendor to sell the house to them!
The sale went through and the planning phase started for moving Huntly House 500km North to Clarks Beach.
Preparing the house to move took about 5 days which involved removing brick chimneys, removing, and securing parts of the roof, separating 3 floors, removing stair banisters, removing parts of ceiling, cutting, bracing and labelling every single piece of timber that was removed and was intended to be reused.
Transportation of the first two smallest pieces was overnight from Palmerston North to Clarks Beach.
Transportation of the larger 4 pieces took two nights. The first leg was Palmerston North to Tokoroa and then Tokoroa to Clarks Beach.
The house travelled mostly straight up State Highway 1, twisting, and turning through the Desert Road and around Lake Taupo. They encountered a large house travelling in the opposite direction around Lake Taupo so had to hastily pull to the side of the road to let the move pass!
Once all 6 pieces were on site and everyone had managed a few hours’ sleep, the work to piece everything back together on piles started the very next morning. This process took about 7 days and then the detailed reconstruction started soon after that.
The renovation got started however in December 2017 the family moved to London, so they had to project manage the renovation from the other side of the world which was a challenge. Luckily, they had a great relationship with the builders – Heineke Builders Ltd.
The shift definitely added complications (of a budgetary nature) as they couldn’t do a lot of the work themselves as originally planned.
The most exciting part about our home is seeing the vision come to life – and I don’t mean in terms of decorating choices. We always felt the home could be used as more than just our family home and likewise, our land too. In the last two years we have let the house out for music recording, short film production, yoga classes, workshops, conference space, residential workshops, birthdays, Airbnb, a sheep sale and weddings.
The stately exterior
The original timber weatherboards are painted in Resene Double Truffle and the eaves in Resene Half Sea Fog.
The roof and some of the wooden accents at the top of the house are Grey Friars and that was also the colour chosen for the Marley Stratus Design Series® Stormcloud® spouting and RP80® downpipes. The darker shade of grey definitely frames the house beautifully.
The paths around the house are Waikato fleck pebble, created from firebricks salvaged from the fireplaces at Rahiri House, Mt Albert which were offered to Hayley when they renovated.
Whilst a cottage garden would have been in keeping with the style of house, it could not stand up to the coastal environment therefore natives suitable for coastal and high wind conditions have been planted.
Marley is a household name for us. We have used Marley products on all our building projects and love that it’s made in New Zealand.
The Parsons did have the option to use pressed steel spouting, like what was already on the house, but as they’re in a coastal environment they decided on the longevity of the Marley product because it won’t rust or corrode – and the Stratus Design Series® had the Grey Friars® they wanted.
We knew we wanted to have a neutral colour palette that would complement the environment. We started with the roof and spouting in Grey Friars and the door colour, Resene Pohutakawa, and went from there.
We also knew we didn’t want to have white downpipes so selected Stratus RP80® in Grey Friars® to match the roof and decks and they are really happy with the contrast.
The Stormcloud® profile was chosen for its clean, strong lines.
The beautiful interior
Hayley and Chris have re-used as much of the original timber as possible. Every piece of architrave, beading, skirting board, and panelling that was removed in preparation for cutting the house, was labelled and their corresponding positions on the walls were also labelled.
Trying to put it all back together was like a massive wasgij but it was so worth it!
Huntly House now has 7 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, 2 full kitchens, and a new kitchenette, scullery and laundry. The floorplan now means the house can be split into three independent sections.
They opted for quite a neutral colour scheme inside with walls in Resene Quarter Truffle and ceilings in Quarter seafog. The main feature is definitely the timber staircase, exposed beams and wooden flooring which are all finished in Resene Qristal Clear polyurethane matte varnish to bring out the natural richness in the wood.
The modern kitchen incorporates things like a flip top power and USB charger in the breakfast bar for convenience. The smooth white style with wooden accents looks crisp and clean.
The bathrooms have a traditional feel, one with the original clawfoot bath which they resurfaced, and the cabinet and even the copper cistern in the main bathroom are original too.
In hindsight we probably would have clawed back some areas of the budget to put full sound proofing in-between the floors – families are noisy! Our 4 children are now grown, but still come home to visit with their partners when they can. We love how the house can be used in so many ways and for more than one thing at a time.
It feels great that we have succeeded in recreating Huntly House for our home but also for the community and others that wish to enjoy her.
There’s no denying she looks the part in the landscape, and the Parsons know she will stand the test of time overlooking the coast for another 100 years!
We’re so pleased we went with Marley Stratus Design Series® because it looks great and we really do know it will last!