House of the week: Karamea hideout
A bach on poles at birds nest height with native bush spreading out below and age-old rimu and kahikatea towering overhead imparts the peace and tranquillity a South Island couple so desired when they built a West Coast getaway on the Karamea Bight.
Their lives are crammed, so they wanted a place they could come and go from with ease, which would provide warmth and privacy in a bush setting.
"We wanted a contrast," explains owner Lis, "we live in Blenheim where it's flat and dry, so we wanted hills with bush."
They searched at length for land, but it was a chance spotting on Trade Me by their daughter that led them to buy their perfect section. Local Karamea architectural designer Carrynne Scarlett was recommended and on meeting they found much in common. The build is now finished; the family are delighted with the design, views, warmth and detail that Scarlett has created.
"We wanted two bedrooms with a mezzanine for overflow of guests, two bathrooms and an open living kitchen area. We wanted it to feel beachy with no dishwasher so, when we arrived, we were coming to something different."
There is no oven but there are still cooking options - the wood fire for slow cooking, a microwave, portable oven and hob. The interior is minimalist. The wetback heats water in winter and in the summer solar panels take over.
The wood fire heats the entire bach and with double glazing and north facing glass the owners notice the build is always warm, even when it has been locked up for weeks. It's on one level, with expansive decking to maximise views over the bush to the river.
"We've been trapping since we bought the land, trapping rats, ferrets and the like and the last time we went to the bach was the first time we didn't have anything in the traps, so, we're making progress, " says Lis.
Eight bedded down comfortably over Christmas, proving the bach an ideal family gathering point. Kitchen joinery and doors made locally by Karamea craftsman Daniel Vos were worked to Scarlett's design.
"Two of the kitchen bench legs are split, one has the water, the other the electricity, the halves of each leg are attached using magnets," says Scarlett of the joinery. "There is no S bend under the sink, we used a hep valve which can sit horizontally, hidden behind the skirt of the bench."
The floors are plywood, architraves and railing caps locally milled pine and macrocarpa, the ceilings grooved plywood, walls gib, the roof long run colour steel and joinery aluminium with sliders.
"The builder did a great job," Scarlett says of Buller Bay Builder Grant Elley. "The team was dubious about working with so much engineered timber but they were so pleased with the result one of the labourers even used some off cuts to make a sculpture for the garden."
It was a team effort, project managed by Scarlett using local craftsmen, and the owners say the bach has delivered vastly more than they ever dared imagine.
SIZE: Ground floor 91 sq m, mezzanine 30 sq m, carport 23 sq m, deck 58 sq m.
MATERIALS: Exterior shadow clad plywood and battens, colour steel; interior aluminum joinery, plywood and gib.
ENERGY EFFICIENCY: Solid fuel heating, solar and solid fuel hot water heating.
DONE RIGHT: The warmth of the bach, the views and the feeling of living in the bush.
DONE WRONG: A corner shower could have been bigger, maybe a square would have been better suited
UNEXPECTED BONUS: The position of the build maximises wilderness views.
RECOMMEND: Using a local architectural professional, they understand the weather patterns and know the good local contractors.
NEXT TIME: We'll use Carrynne Scarlett to do something for us again.