This 1970s barn has been made warm and serviceable with our prefinished plywood interior lining.
Used as a games room for years, this old Rodney barn had the perfect bones for a multipurpose space – a seasonal cooking school, movie night venue or rainy-day retreat for the kids.
Interior designer Sonya Cotter was briefed for a warm and inviting interior that would also stand up to knocks and be easy to clean. ‘Plywood offers the character of timber more cost-effectively and it suits the barn-style interior. It has that vernacular look we so enjoy. And with fairly minimal décor, the birch PlyPlay has a design edge we were after. The prefinished UV-cured surface has a wonderful satin finish and adds a real lustre.’
Working with double-height spaces
Sonya selected the Naturally Naked birch panel for the two side walls and the ceiling planes, picking out the barn’s triangular profile in the black-stained Double Trouble. This creates contrast and emphasises the height and apex.
To further emphasise the height, Sonya specified a great cluster of dropped metal pendants and a hanging steel fireplace for accents and focal points in the elegantly furnished space.
Adjacent to the lounge is a large demonstration kitchen to host cooking classes, tucked underneath a storage loft. ‘We had to work within the existing height, so the idea was to do some really beautiful ceiling detailing using a wide negative channel,’ says Sonya. ‘This breaks up the flat sheets into long, streamlined panels with a shadow detail, something to look at and enjoy.’
Working out the construction details
The ceiling detail was worked out ahead of time with the builder, Colin Green. Meeting at Sonya’s office in Auckland, the pair preplanned the kitchen ceiling, the panel layout and nog locations throughout, and the negative detail between wall panels.
‘To match the negative panel detail across the walls, we used a 3 mm tile spacer when putting the panels in place and before nailing them up,’ says Colin. ‘We applied the construction glue at roughly 15 cm centres and used glass suction cups to lift the sheets into place. Then we used finishing nails, set out with a chalk string for a neat, straight line.’
‘One of the things I most love about ply is the edge,’ notes Sonya, ‘so exposing that edge in the design is critical for me as a designer. We’ve expressed it around the doorways and windows, and also on each wall or ceiling corner where the ply changes from one plane to the next.’
A cook’s kitchen
With a vision to run a seasonal cooking school, Sonya was briefed to create a generous kitchen made in ply where a group of eight can sit around a demonstration. The kitchen was made using birch PlyPlay – great for kitchen cabinetry as it’s much more water-resistant than MDF.
The kitchen manufacturer Connoisseur Kitchens grain-matched every panel and used natural oil on the edges instead of varnish. As well as making the kitchen cabinets, they also built a living room sideboard to match.
PlyPlay panels are prefinished with a UV-cured coating – a finish more durable than its equivalents, neater than non-factory coatings, and solvent-free for no smell in the factory or on site.