House of the Week | Hamilton South | Photos

After more than 20 years and undertaking three renovations, a couple and their labradoodle, Meg, are finally wrapping up work on their home in Hamilton South and are looking forward to spending time enjoying the space.

Sleuth turned designer Darren Shearer is the homeowner, landscaper and designer behind the renovations that have taken place. 

After many years in the police force, he returned to university at age 51 to complete a degree, and he’s found similarities between the careers, particularly in regards to problem solving.

Since his career shift, he’s won 11 design awards, including his latest from the Master Builder Association for excellence in alterations, additions, renovations and restoration.  

“Your eye will find the centre of a circle; that’s why the space works,” Darren says of both his home and his design philosophy. “What I’ve tried to create is a sense of place.”

He aims to create details that subliminally satisfy people’s sense of aesthetic. From his home’s multi-levels to the express joints that convey the design intent, every detail of his vision is deliberate.

He said the house’s renovations took cues from its original art deco framework. It is an influence of well-designed Japanese, blended with modernism. He and his wife started by creating the bedroom and upstairs area. The inspiration to change the rest of the house continued.

Because it’s a heritage home (built in 1938), they had to adhere to certain restrictions. They couldn’t make the roof any higher, but you’d never guess when you visit their renovated spacious upstairs bedroom, complete with Tatami mats and a Japanese-themed bathroom.

“We’d been working over a year initially putting the bedroom up there,” he said.

“It was very involved because of the design complexity.” 

Sun streams throughout the house and cushioned sun seats beckon from many of the windows.

Their lounge, kitchen and dining area are all in one intermingling space.

Darren is not a fan of dining rooms and says they are used only three times a year. He’s much more interested in bringing spaces together with style, cohesion and efficiency.

“(After creating the space upstairs) when we came downstairs we were able to change the levels and make them function so much more,” he says.

The layers of the downstairs area are particularly interesting because Darren has blended it with the outdoor space. This includes a veranda on one level and a pool on the level below. Darren, who is also a landscape designer, mentors and employs design student Cloud Salman. With his help and technological skills, Darren’s multi-layered design was fully realised.

The home has lots of black and white and eclectic décor. Another story would be necessary to describe the variety of ornamentation including interesting sculptures, art and furniture. Worth mentioning is an original Eames chair in the lounge, a Bromley nude and a Philips Hue lighting system that controls the spectrum of colour for 23 lights in their home. 

Their media room is also his wife’s office and is built with Shoji screens. The screens can be opened so she can look out into the lounge and kitchen, but also closed for privacy while working. The room’s set up with the inbuilt desk system and Pirelli flooring made of a black rubber (Pirelli tyres) chequered pattern. 

He too has a room for work. Upstairs, next to their bedroom is his plywood-lined studio, a place he can quickly get to and not disturb his wife if she’s asleep. Here he’s also used express joints. 

The couple are looking forward to relaxing in the space that Darren has so carefully and intentionally created. They have at least another year of renovations, including the back entrance and garage.

With Darren’s eye for design, the home has slowly transitioned to a place that’s very different from how it started. From subtle, but important, details like where the eye is drawn, to carefully planned levels and deliberate styling, the home not only gives Darren an outlet to display his skills, it has evolved into the perfect environment for the pair to enjoy for years to come.      

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