My favourite space: A mid-century room by the sea

Couch-sitters can look out of Robyn and Phil Hinton's New Plymouth living room to the pohutukawa on the foreshore reserve.
JANE USSHER

Couch-sitters can look out of Robyn and Phil Hinton's New Plymouth living room to the pohutukawa on the foreshore reserve.

New Plymouth's busy waterfront has been a revelation for Robyn and Phil Hinton. Their newly built home stands at the entrance to East End Reserve, a green belt that runs along the waterfront, incorporating the town's beloved coastal walkway. "Since we came down to the coastline, the sea has become like an every-changing oil painting," says Robyn.

"In the evening, we'll watch the shops with their lights on and all the different shades of the dusk sky and the grey green of the sea."

Their home was designed and built to make the most of those stunning views; this is particularly evident in the spacious, open-plan living room, which looks out to the pohutukawa on the reserve.  

It was almost five years ago that Robyn and Phil spotted the site by the sea and found themselves imagining what could be created on the long, narrow, slightly sloping section.

Once the deal was done, the empty-nesters moved into the site's existing older home to see what it was like through the seasons and decide how best to make use of their new location. By the end of their tenure, they yearned for a relaxed, light-filled space that let in far more sunshine than the old house could.

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Artwork by Graham Fletcher hangs in the conversation area of the Hinton's living room and almost tricks the viewer into ...
JANE USSHER

Artwork by Graham Fletcher hangs in the conversation area of the Hinton's living room and almost tricks the viewer into thinking the living space depicted in the painting is an extension of the living room.

 

Within 18 months, plans were in hand and a team had been assembled to design, construct, landscape and fit out what was to be a contemporary three-bedroom home, big enough to accommodate all the art the couple plan to accumulate in the coming years.

Designer Mike Mansvelt and architect Glenn Brebner (of Boon Goldsmith Bhaskar Brebner Team Architects) developed the initial concept together and then later concentrated on their respective specialty areas. Both had plenty of creative freedom. Mike focused on materials and landscape design, while Glenn worked on design detail and lighting.

The conversation area opens out onto the Hinton's secret garden.
JANE USSHER

The conversation area opens out onto the Hinton's secret garden.

The couple heap praise on their designers and contractors. Builders Cleland Construction were masters at collaboration and warding off potential problems. So too was the architect, who solved issues quickly, ensuring Phil and Robyn did not have to deal with anything difficult. And Mike Mansvelt made the place look beautiful inside and out. "It's just perfect," says Robyn, who spoke to NZ House & Garden about creating the living area.

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What was your vision for this space? A welcoming space; comfortable and cozy. We wanted to make the most of the good natural light, create a feeling of spaciousness, and have views out the front to the sea and to the garden at the back.

What are the key features of this space? Travertine floors throughout the living area extend out to the deck. In the lounge area, a low-profile lounge suite from maintains the open feel of the room. The conversation area, which features a pair of mid-century-style chairs from BoConcept, is a natural extension of the lounge and opens out onto the garden.

The Hintons enjoy lunch in their open plan living and dining area.
JANE USSHER

The Hintons enjoy lunch in their open plan living and dining area.

What did you learn from this project? I think that it makes you really, really appreciate what's gone into your house and how much everyone has put in for you. It's quite humbling.

What do you like best about this space? It gets beautiful morning sun. It's a great place to read, have a coffee or wine and conversation. The area is ideal for the two of us but equally it opens up enough to entertain as well.

 

Dark green Caesarstone is used for the kitchen splashback.
JANE USSHER

Dark green Caesarstone is used for the kitchen splashback.

 - NZ House & Garden

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