Divide and conquer

When we say ‘screen time’ at Box™, it’s nothing to do with limiting our social media, cutting down our gaming, or saving our eye-sight. It usually has to do with how we’re going to divide one space off from another. A wall is not the be all and end all of the solution.

Here are some of our favourite ways to separate:

1. Instead of solid shelving, we’ve taken our cue from 70s with a wooden divider that provides storage for books and display space for objects in this Lower Hutt home, but still allows visual connection between the kitchen and living room for this young family. This one stretches from floor to ceiling but you could also create shelving on top of a half wall between, say, a front door and the main living room for more privacy when seated. Don’t forget to populate it with plants!

2. Creating a sense of separation is often achieved by using a change of materials such as in this Kerikeri home where the bedroom wing is clad in timber, while the living zone is a glass box. Internally, a concrete block fireplace acts as the architectural ‘anchor’ between the two separate areas. A double-sided fireplace with a modern glass fire-box would allow good visual connection between rooms.

3.  There are some instances where more separation – not less – serves a better purpose. That was the case in a Mangawhai holiday home where we laid out the bathrooms campground style. Instead of locating the WC, side-by-side vanities and shower in a single space, we used doors to section off the loo, and another to create a shower ‘room’. This means when there are several guests in residence (as there often are in holiday homes), some can brush their teeth at the same time others take a shower. And there’s never a morning queue for the loo!

4. We’re pretty famous for our timber-batten stair-screens at Box™. They’re both practical (as balustrades and barriers) and add a decorative element to the design. Through the years we’ve done many versions and even worked with the homeowners of the Grand Designs house in Hillsborough who wanted a more slimline steel-rod version with floating stair treads.

5. While we love the invisibility of glass as a balcony or deck ‘railing’ and the way it reflects a view, more budget-conscious homeowners usually opt for timber. The Box™ way of delivering on the regulations is with ‘palisade’ like fence with only one cross support. To tie in the idea, we’ll often include other garden or indoor screening with a similar battened appearance as we did in this family house on Auckland’s North Shore.

6. So often these days, it’s an island bench that sections off the kitchen from the living zone but, instead of the standard treatment, we like create a dining experience, the built-in Box way. In this house in Auckland’s Maraetai, the stainless-steel bench is augmented by a dropped-down meranti-ply extension that softens the look, ties in with the cabinetry, and is closer to dining table height.