House of the week: home near Timaru built to move

Metal shavings give a rusted effect to the concrete spheres from Garden Classics in Christchurch on the deck.
JANE USSHER

Metal shavings give a rusted effect to the concrete spheres from Garden Classics in Christchurch on the deck.

For a property that was bought as a hobby farm, there has been plenty of serious activity on Craig and Yolande Thompson's 80 hectares of land at Hadlow, north of Timaru. 

If planting some 4000 specimens including liquidambars, pin oaks, tussocks and toetoe wasn't enough, the couple has also been involved in the hands-on business of building and decorating an award-winning house. 

But not just any house. Even before the first earth was turned, the couple had their eyes on the ultimate prize – a dream home built further out on the ridge. Their new house, they decided should be relocatable to keep their future options open.     

The 165sqm house was built so it could be transported on the back of a truck in a single piece if they decided to sell or to move it elsewhere.   

READ MORE:
House of the week: Cosy Arrowtown cottage
House of the week: Mid-century Christchurch home
House of the week: Beachfront at Mt Maunganui 

 
Yolande used a paint-effect on the Formica and melamine cabinetry to give it a semi-industrial look.
JANE USSHER

Yolande used a paint-effect on the Formica and melamine cabinetry to give it a semi-industrial look.

When Craig and Yolande met in 2010, they renovated a house together for themselves and Craig's three daughters – Samantha, 25, Maggie, 16, and Liz, 13.

They chose Hadlow for this new project, an area that looks towards the Southern Alps and is only 5km to the centre of town. The couple like the area's community spirit. "At Christmas time there are big get-togethers at the homes of different people – everyone's so friendly."

While the home has the welcoming feel of a country lodge, its form is contemporary, with a soaring monopitch roof and floor to ceiling glazing to usher in big country views.

Yolande says her styling, with its dark wood and natural textures, is rustic and “a bit lodgy-looking”.
JANE USSHER

Yolande says her styling, with its dark wood and natural textures, is rustic and “a bit lodgy-looking”.

An infinity lawn stretches out on the northern side, with a ha-ha keeping stock out and preserving the view. Tobacco-gold tussocks, shrubs and carefully placed lichen-encrusted rocks tie in with the cedar ply panels of the soffit and garaging. 

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Craig and his brother Vaughan own a commercial construction company and took charge of the structural steel work. The 19 x 8m house cantilevers off three steel beams. "It gives the illusion of floating above the earth," says Craig. 

With steel trusses, a wraparound deck that unbolts from the side and lightweight Colorsteel cladding, it will be easy to jack up and sit on a truck.  

Craig, Yolande and Maltese poodle-cross Mimi.
JANE USSHER

Craig, Yolande and Maltese poodle-cross Mimi.

Originally a clothing designer, Yolande worked for companies such as Swanndri, then established her own label, Gilbert & Keen.

"It was pitched at the 40-plus rural market and proved to be very popular with the golfing ladies." She's now moved into interior design. "Many of the principles you use in clothing translate: scale and proportion, texture and colour."

In a house where every centimetre counts, proportions were meticulously calculated. Yolande designed the bathroom to maximise the small space: "Because it needs to be transportable, there are no ceramics. We've used acrylic, stainless steel, vinyl and put in a big safety glass mirror." 

A vintage Indian grain urn displays Yolande’s favourite art objects.
JANE USSHER

A vintage Indian grain urn displays Yolande’s favourite art objects.

In the kitchen, the steel-grey joinery is largely flexible Formica and melamine to allow for lifting the building. 

The walls in the open-plan living and kitchen are Resene 'Diesel', a deep black-red, and the hearth around the woodburner is dark blue steel. Yolande was keen to match the furniture to the moody colour palette.

"It was hard to find the right grey for the leather lounge suite." Then she used tobacco brown accessories to add warmth. Mounted animal heads from Craig's hunting trips contribute to the lodge-like feel, and texture and colour is added with animal skins, beaten copper, tartan and a burnt orange rug.  

Six-year-old Mimi first belonged to Yolande.
JANE USSHER

Six-year-old Mimi first belonged to Yolande.

A painting by Timaru artist Holly Zandbergen is a focal point in the living room. "In 2015, she won the Best Young Artist award in London's National Open Art Competition," says Yolande.

"We've loved her work since she was a teenager and commissioned a painting of a rugged landscape. In certain light you get the impression that you're looking out a window." 

The house won Wilson Building of Timaru a gold award in the 2015 Master Builders' House of the Year – no mean achievement for a dwelling designed to be relocatable. But the real reward is how well it works for family life. Craig's two younger girls live nearby and ride their horses up for weekends.  

The 1970s tobacco leather chairs and the wooden-burr coffee table are from Bali.
JANE USSHER

The 1970s tobacco leather chairs and the wooden-burr coffee table are from Bali.

While it feels like a solid family home that will last for generations, it won't be here forever.

Who knows where it will end its days – its strong architectural lines could grace another spot on Craig and Yolande's property, a section closer to town or even a site way up in the hills on a high country station.  

Q&A:

Yolande found an old gate in a paddock to make a bedhead for horse-mad Liz, who can see her pony Jasper  from her ...
JANE USSHER

Yolande found an old gate in a paddock to make a bedhead for horse-mad Liz, who can see her pony Jasper from her bedroom window.

Best decorating tip: Start with one inspirational piece, whether that's a piece of furniture, soft furnishings (maybe a cushion) or a piece of art. Build your decor around that. 

Best budget advice: Trends cost! Don't try to be on trend. Trends change and date quickly. Style your home in a way that best reflects your family's lifestyle.

Place to visit: Enjoy a meal at one of the exceptionally good restaurants on Timaru's The Bay Hill, overlooking lovely Caroline Bay. 

Maggie's room features a pink chambray-covered weatherboard bedhead.
JANE USSHER

Maggie's room features a pink chambray-covered weatherboard bedhead.

When Treasure hunting: Visit Overflow, a chaotic treasure trove of second-hand South Canterbury homeware and furnishings, which can be found in Mayfield, halfway between Geraldine and Methven on the main highway. 

Best coffee: At Timaru's funky Arthur St Cafe down by Aoraki Polytechnic. 

Yolande Thompson

The master bedroom has a cowhide bedhead and aged white linen.
JANE USSHER

The master bedroom has a cowhide bedhead and aged white linen.

The view from the dining table sweeps from the Southern Alps to the ocean.
JANE USSHER

The view from the dining table sweeps from the Southern Alps to the ocean.

The outdoor lounge suite, found in Christchurch, is Yolande’s and Craig’s evening roosting spot.
JANE USSHER

The outdoor lounge suite, found in Christchurch, is Yolande’s and Craig’s evening roosting spot.

A vintage kadai (Indian cooking pot) stands on the detachable deck.
JANE USSHER

A vintage kadai (Indian cooking pot) stands on the detachable deck.

The entire back wall in the bathroom is mirrored.
JANE USSHER

The entire back wall in the bathroom is mirrored.

 - NZ House & Garden

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