A page from an 1867 NZ Herald hidden in a wall gives a clue to the age of this recently restored Oratia Cottage.
Originally sited in St Mary’s Bay, Auckland, the two-bedroom kauri gem was discovered in a Kumeu house yard.
“It was rather run down and had been given a nasty looking 1960s bay window to the front,” says its owner James, who bought the cottage with his wife Dizz three years ago and named it Freemans Cottage after the Auckland suburb.
An Auckland building surveyor, James was impressed with the detailing of the design, including the decorative moldings, high ceilings, wood paneling and use of kauri, so he took on the task of restoring it to its original glory.
“All the original features are still there and the sense of space that you get with high ceilings is amazing,” James says.
Relocated to Carter Road in west Auckland, Freemans Cottage has had a total refurbishment in the past two years with a new kitchen and bathroom as well as new wiring, plumbing, insulation and a heat pump. Wall colours were taken from a Farrow and Ball heritage colour chart and the property has been tastefully furnished with period pieces.
So while everything is in keeping with its era, it’s also fresh and polished. The layout is similar to the original house, just reduced in size a little by the removal of the old kitchen lean-to and a small porch.
Its new location in a picturesque dell with other historic buildings ensures the cottage looks as though it has always been there. Two other later 1800s villas have been relocated from central Auckland suburbs to the site.
Positioned to the north for all day sun, Freemans Cottage is now a quiet retreat for visitors to the Waitakeres.
“Being a restored relocation, the house has seen many late nights and long weekends of work, which all seem worth it when we get great feedback from people who visit. We normally have people stay for longer periods as it appeals to people relocating and is a good base to explore Auckland and the Waitakere Ranges,” says James.