Perfect no fuss fit
Rachel and Callum Anderson's Springlands home is proof that the best things come in small packages. In designing their new home, they vowed to sacrifice a "lot" for a "little", forgoing spare rooms and vast garage space for a small and perfect footprint.
"I'd prefer to have it smaller and have more that I love," says Rachel, who stuck to a tight budget, while also sticking to her guns, determined to find a better option than a fit-all home from a stock standard plan.
And she had to be determined, because the first handful of building companies she visited said her wish-list - including cedar cladding, a mono-pitch roof and a gallery hallway - could not be achieved within her price limit.
Immune to the glossy brochures waved under her nose, offering brick and a gable pitch within the budget, she approached Andrew Pope, who said he could make the 200-square metre, three-bedroom, small garage and playroom plan work.
Rachel's architect cousin, Brady Gibbons, then took the draftsman's plan and stylised it to create the exterior look, including big sliding doors and windows, to give a sense of space, and the cedar pods stepping out on the northeast and southwest corners. "His work really brought all our ideas together."
The pods, which will be left to weather silver, give the home's exterior a stunning point of difference in the Nottinghill subdivision.
And the interior, with its polished concrete floors, high sloping ceilings, open-plan kitchen, living and hallway,
and ply detailing in the sleek, white kitchen, is stunning, stylish and made for easy living.
A ceiling-high wall in the plans between the kitchen and the hallway, which Rachel says she had trouble getting her head around, was transformed to a bookshelf. It worked well, adding complexity to the simple lines of the room, and now she loves it.
The couple stuck to the budget in nearly all things, but fell for a last-minute up-spec of kitchen sinks and bench, installing a 7cm-thick Corian benchtop in place of white formica.
"The island is a feature in the interior, and it's one of those things that people really notice, so the Corian gives the home a quality feel," says Rachel.
A backdrop of ply runs from the gorgeous bench to the concrete floor, providing a stunning look for the relatively low price of plywood.
Raw materials were high on Rachel's wishlist, and the texture of the concrete and ply have provided a perfect contrast to the otherwise white palette, and given the home a rich character.
She says much of the inspiration came from a visit to the architecturally designed home of Claire and Jono Bushell, which has the same open plan living from kitchen to living room, with a playroom tucked behind the kitchen, and a "gallery" hallway open to the living, to create more space.
That home also used raw materials, including cedar exterior, polished concrete floors, wooden shelves and sections of concrete block walls.
While the Bushell home's size, and many of its materials, were out of the Anderson's budget, Rachel drew from it in her design, to create a home she describes as bach-like.
"That's what I liked about Claire and Jono's and it's really easy to live in because there is no fuss anywhere."
Rachel stuck to simple lines with few features, then used lighting to give the room interest, supplementing recessed lighting with hanging bulbs above the kitchen bench, and a large wooden lightshade in the living area.
The latter blew her decor budget a little, but while the kitchen lights were set to cost hundreds, the electrician decided the cost was ridiculous, and used extension cord and bulbs worth a few dollars to create the same look.
"I kept it pretty simple and knew there were ways to accentuate it, like the bookcase, benchtop, stools, lighting, and colour from cushions from Madder and Rouge," says Rachel.
She argues that show homes and set plans are the perfect choice for many, their tried-and-true designs ensuring people know what they are getting.
But it's also possible to use the same budget on a design-and-build, if you're sure of what you like.
"This wouldn't be for everybody, but it's perfect for us."
Keep the home style simple, then enhance with additions like lights, bar stools and cushions now what you like – look at friends' homes and magazines to see products in action, rather than just on the shelf or in a sample.
I've been at Libby Davis' Springlands home for about five minutes before the interview diverts into plans for next year's Christmas crafts.
Festive magazines are found and opened to favourite pages, and excited talk of homemade advent calendars, festive bunting and Christhmas tree baubles takes over.
I defy anyone to walk into this home, where Christmas decorations have been made with love, displayed with care and daily adored and dusted, and not be overcome with the desire to race home and make a wreath from grape vines.
Libby loves Christmas and loves craft, so the opportunity to enjoy both at once is hard to contain.
That's why her decorations, this year in a Christmas tree theme, have been out since Labour Day, though they'll be in by the new year.
Then she can get started on making the decorations for next year
The Marlborough Express