Brown House is an iconic Nelson historic settlers building with a rich and colourful past dating back to the 1860’s. It is located in the heart of central Nelson on a long and narrow site stretching between two busy streets. The clients wished to create a unique inner-city dwelling that could be used as short-term accommodation.
Like many older Nelson inner-city homes, the original Brown House was long, narrow and dark, with a variety of uses over its time, including retail and hospitality. The existing building was in a state of disrepair with a lot of the finishing timber damaged or removed. With hardly any original materials and features left, it required extensive renovation and modernisation.
Retaining only the front facade, the house was stripped back to the framing and reconfigured into a three bedroom dwelling that can be arranged in several ways to sleep up to six guests. The house has a strong street presence – the weatherboards aptly painted a chocolate brown colour contrasted with white window facings and shutters, with the entry being marked by a bright pink front door. A long hallway leads down to the light-filled dining, kitchen and living area. The sun-soaked verandah upstairs and generous courtyard at ground level create a little urban oasis amongst the industrial city fabric.
Brown House is a thoughtful and playful response to heritage controls, the site and program. It is a heritage gem brought back to life, adding another chapter to its vibrant history.
Featured in Wild Tomato's September issue on heritage homes: Salvaging the Past for the Future.
Photos by Kate Webster Photography