My favourite space: Open plan stylish hilltop living
Scott Lawrie has a secret. He's kept it close for some time. It's living simply: just him and his dog Skippy, on top of a hill with a view of Pakiri beach beneath.
"When you make the decision to live like this, it is a good secret to keep because otherwise everyone would do it," he says. "Although it would probably help lower blood pressure rates in New Zealand.
Four years ago, Scott, picked a spot on top of a hill in Pakiri, 85km north of Auckland, and built his dream house. "I wake up every morning and think I have died and gone to heaven," he says.
Although he lives a simple life, his house, which featured on Grand Designs New Zealand in 2015, is anything but. Designed by architect Paul Clarke (s2a.co.nz), it's constructed without almost any right angles.
The apex of the house faces directly north, in line with the Hen and Chicken Islands, and Scott chose a site where the views can never be built out. With an outer shell of steel and lined inside with French cedar, it's a hard-wearing house that reflects the elements.
The main living area epitomises the theatrical nature of Scott's house; dark black walls, breathtaking views, carefully considered lighting and sculptural elements, such as the angled stainless steel island bench in the kitchen. "I wanted to make something that outlived me," says Scott.
"Thinking that I have achieved something that people will still look at after I'm gone is really special."
Did you have a vision for this space? Yes – I worked with Paul Clarke for the best part of a year before the ground was even scraped. We worked well together and knew that we wanted quite a masculine space that also felt quite timeless. There's a high contrast between the hardness and angular surfaces and the warmth of the wood and the black walls. It's bold. But it's gentle – and really works as a living space to read, entertain and drink wine in!
What was the decorating process for this space? Surprisingly there's not a lot of paint, as we wanted the surfaces and textures to authentically speak for themselves; the softness of the oiled cedar, the natural blue steel, the cool concrete. I'm not a huge fan of textiles and fabrics, so these were used sparingly. Although strong, it's also quite minimal and we wanted to make the external landscape the hero to be honest. That said, my art collection is really important to me, so we built that in from day one.
What are the key features of this space? The fireplace. It's an original French Gyrofocus wood burner – it rotates and you simply point it where you'd like the heat to focus. It wasn't cheap though. And cost me a few sleepless nights – but I'm so glad I went with it. The red painting is by Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori and is called 'Dibirdibi Country'. She's an Australian aboriginal landscape painter. It's a stunning, honest piece of art.
Do you have any advice for other homeowners? Get yourself the best architect and builder you can afford. When they work well as a team, amazing things happen.
What do you like best about this space? The fact that it keeps giving you something new to look at – from the lighting throughout the day, to the subtleties of the space, forms and shadows. It's quite beautiful and always changing.