At home with Christchurch design couple Chloe Coles and Jono Coates

Chloe Coles and Jono Coates designed their house, which has an open plan kitchen, living and dining area, with ...
Kate Claridge

Chloe Coles and Jono Coates designed their house, which has an open plan kitchen, living and dining area, with minimalism and clean lines in mind.

Chloe Coles, an architectural graduate, and Jono Coates, an interior designer, live in the Christchurch suburb of Somerfield. Together, they designed their home, which they share with cat Sabi.

CHLOE: We bought the land with a little damaged house on it - both earthquake damage and neglect. It was just really old and crappy and wonky. But it was really cheap, and a really good find. We paid the land price for it but we lived in the house as well, so we were paying quite a low mortgage.

We survived two years in there. It was so cold. I can't describe how bad it was. We did one winter thinking we'd do it up but then talked to so many builders who walked in and were like, "What are you doing, just build a new house - you're going to sink so much money into this. Just get something new and warm and dry. It's not worth doing up."

A 5mm stainless steel benchtop was one splurge the couple were pleased they made when designing their new house.
Kate Claridge

A 5mm stainless steel benchtop was one splurge the couple were pleased they made when designing their new house.

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We got excited about that because we were pretty stoked about the idea of designing and drawing up our own house. After that, it happened really quickly. We drew it up from scratch but we used lessons from the existing house. There were a couple of spaces in the old house that caught the sun really well - they just happened to be quite clever on this site so we used those ideas for something completely different and new.

It took about six months to build, and probably about a year before that of design, getting consent, and organising finance. We got finance approved for $300,000. I think we came in at about $285,000 in the end.

While the house was being built, we flatted with our friends who had a spare bedroom. They were about a five-minute walk from our new house so we got to check in on the way home from work.

Our tastes are quite aligned - pretty pared-back and minimal, we don't like clutter. Lots of white.

The couple, who were married in February, bought a doer-upper in October 2014. They were advised it would be cheaper to ...
Kate Claridge

The couple, who were married in February, bought a doer-upper in October 2014. They were advised it would be cheaper to bowl it and build from scratch, rather than renovate.

We wanted something really simple and basic, mostly for cost's sake and the time it would take to build. But we also wanted something quite unique. That was probably the biggest struggle - keeping the price down but still really expressing ourselves.

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The whole thing is a box shape with a gable roof. The front door opens into an open plan space which is kitchen, dining and living room all in one. It's all white, it has a really high ceiling. We've got a plain strip of kitchen down one side, and the floor's all polished concrete. In the hallway, the ceiling's at a lower level, and it's flat. There's a guest bedroom and a bathroom. At the other end of the house, the ceiling comes up again, in our master bedroom.

We didn't design in any heating, which always surprises people. We haven't got a fire and we haven't got a heat pump. We thought we'd move in and see how much we needed and see how we went with just a plug-in heater. That's how we're surviving at the moment and it's been alright. We like the idea of summer rolling around and there's no visible heater on the wall. It's just an aesthetic thing as well. With a new house, it's so sealed up and you've got double-glazing and insulation - it holds heat really well.

The new house is heated with plug-in appliances. Double-glazing and insulation keep the space toasty on Christchurch's ...
Kate Claridge

The new house is heated with plug-in appliances. Double-glazing and insulation keep the space toasty on Christchurch's chillier days.

One of our big splurges was a stainless steel benchtop for our kitchen. We don't spend a lot of time cooking but we just wanted something really functional and easy to clean, that looked good.

For our shower, we chose tiles which we really love and are really nice-fitting. So whenever we walk into our bathroom we're like, "Wow, so glad we did that!"

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Sabi enjoying a sun patch.
Kate Claridge

Sabi enjoying a sun patch.

 - Sunday Magazine

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