Like so many young couples starting out, Tamzin Mackley and Nigel Beazley were determined to buy their own home.
They had been renting a family- owned house, but when they discovered they were expecting twins, they were keen to buy their own property and secure the family's future.
"The thing was Wellington was just so expensive at the time," recalls Tamzin, a graphic designer.
"In 2007, real estate agents showed us several homes in the region, with a bias for Te Horo, as they assumed being townies, we wouldn't want to live in urban Otaki.
"But Te Horo is not where we saw ourselves. We wanted an old- school community with the kind of neighbours that become friends, as well as all the essential facilities we had left behind in Wellington city.
"After two days of being driven around by various agents with no results, we pointed out an art-deco house we had seen listed earlier that was slightly out of our price range. It had been taken off the market, so the agents contacted the vendors and we had a quick look.
"It was love at first sight and it ticked all our boxes. We made an offer that day and with minimal negotiating, we had an unconditional agreement and settled a few days later."
Tamzin and Nigel's gut instincts have proved right. The art deco home, which attracts so much comment from passers-by has made a great home for twins Jet and Ivy, who are now 6 years old.
"Not only is the house great, but it's a great neighbourhood.
"Everything is so close and the beach is just down the road. There's a swimming pool and the river. Otaki really does have everything for a family," Tamzin says.
The house was built in 1934 and still has its original stucco cladding. The art-deco design, such a feature on the exterior, has also been retained on the interior, with ornate feature plaster ceilings, native timber architraves, skirting boards and window frames and room proportions that today seem of a grand size.
"The previous owners had done a lot of very careful restoration. The work was seamlessly done and that's what really appealed to us - the care they had taken to retain its art-deco style."
The floors are matai and the lounge features an original Axminster carpet, which attracts much comment and admiration from visitors.
"The first few years we lived in the house we were too scared to change anything, possibly a too- many-years-of-renting syndrome, but slowly and subtly over the past three years, some of our flavours have rubbed off on the place.
"We did the wallpapering in the dining room. We were so lucky to get some original 60s wallpaper, and we spent ages working it out so it just fitted. It was a mathematical procedure to work it out, so we had enough to fit. I was working at Minx here in Otaki at the time and Angela Buswell, who owns Minx, had got the wallpaper to use in the shop, but there wasn't enough, so she gave it to me."
The papered wall makes a feature in the dining room, highlighted against the matai floor and surrounding cream walls.
As their confidence in home renovations increased, the couple continued in the hallway. They bought and carefully hung expensive Anaglypta paper, an imported paintable wallpaper with a deeply textured and embossed design, and painted over it in a soft off-white to enhance the surrounding native timber woodwork.
"It's beautiful. It was expensive, but we wanted the hallway as a feature because of the stunning woodwork while retaining the art- deco theme."
For this artistic couple - Nigel is also a graphic designer and an accomplished musician - their home represents their love of design, proportion, history, textures and colour.
"We love the consistency of design. It's throughout the whole house, even to the door handles. The whole place has been finished perfectly."
Not that Tamzin is laying any claim to the restoration of the house. She says the previous owners appreciated what they had and were meticulous in returning the home to its former glory.
"They had impeccable taste. Even the galley kitchen is clever. It's subtle, unobtrusive and doesn't compete with the rest of the interior. It's a part of the house, but hasn't been made to stand out, as in so many houses.
"Both Nigel and I love to collect strange and wonderful items. We also have loads of band posters, but these pieces don't suit the ornate house and most of them are packed away in boxes.
"We've kept the decor pretty minimal, so the detail of the house can be the centre of attention, and furnishing because of our small children is practical, not bespoke or designer."
The garden depicts the essence of the family - casual, very much a space for living and enjoying.
Tamzin says while she would love to have a garden befitting the style and era of the build, a formal garden simply wouldn't work for the family's lifestyle.
"The magnolia tree is our favourite part of the garden. It's stunning in bloom and makes for great climbing for the kids and good shade for picnics in the summer. Our four chickens, Burn, Hotwheels, Rosie and Joline also love our garden and have a free- range lifestyle."
Alongside the chickens and very much part of the family are dogs Choppa, a long-haired dachshund, Florence, a pointer huntaway cross, and burmese cat Mr Crowley. They are extensions to the family that Nigel and Tamzin are delighted to have for their twins. It will ensure the children have a complete childhood experience growing up with a menagerie of animals, along with all the recreational aspects Otaki has to offer.
"Because we are not keen gardeners, I'm lucky to have a landscape architect for a mother.
"We managed to convince her to move to Otaki from central Auckland and she, thankfully, tends to the large garden for us."
Despite living in Otaki for more than six years, the family has yet to be considered local.
"It didn't take long to love Otaki, but it's rumoured it takes 10 years to become locals, so we're not too far off now.
"We now have the best of both worlds - great schools, good shops and cafes with a rural landscape, rivers and beaches.
"On average, we're 5 degrees warmer than Wellington, with no southerlies or howling northerlies on a sunny day."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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