Friends & Neighbours
When two pairs of long-time friends found themselves looking to build at the same time, it didn't take long to find an ideal, yet unexpected, solution: one section big enough for them both.
Owing to the demolition of the quake-damaged home that had previously occupied the site, there was plenty of room to subdivide and build two homes, side by side. Having ‘fallen in love’ with the lush green oasis, replete with flourishing native ferns, and with a gently babbling stream at its boundary, it didn’t take Karen Comber much to convince her husband Martin and their friends, Mark and Lisa Tinning.
Purchasing the site back in 2012, Martin recalls the trials and tribulations they experienced in the two years before they even put a shovel in the ground. With numerous plans drafted through various building companies – largely due to council restrictions involving stream boundary setbacks – Martin says he was just about to give up on the idea altogether, when his friend Mark suggested they enlist a qualified architect.
Around the same time that their stunning new design received council approval, the two couples’ paths serendipitously crossed that of Mitch Frost of Frost Builders. Impressed with Mitch’s previous experience and reputation for executing high-calibre architectural homes, Martin says it made their choice to enlist Frost Builders ‘a very easy one’, and that their experience was ‘exceptional’ from go to whoa.
Martin has built a number of homes over the years, and he says that, working with Frost Builders, the process simply ‘flowed’. Of all the building projects Martin’s undertaken, this was one of the smoothest, even despite the complexities of the design.
Onsite daily, Mitch Frost project managed the build: pre-empting any issues before they arose, liaising between the architect, site foreman and the clients for transparent communication, and finding creative solutions along the way.
In addition to project managing, Mitch is very much a ‘hands on’ builder, picking up hammer and nail to ensure every last detail is executed to perfection.
As Mitch recalls, owing to the ‘tightness’ of the site, which offered a ‘limited set down area’ for the storage of tools and materials, and to the fact that the houses were being built close to the stream boundary, careful planning was required to ensure the numerous subcontractors each had sufficient space to work.
Given the high-end architectural nature of this twin build, combined with the fact that Frost Builders were brought on board at the end of the lengthy design phase, rather than the beginning, Mitch explains that creative solutions were required as the project unfolded.
One aspect that called for Mitch’s problem-solving nous was the feature wall between the two living spaces in the Comber residence. Designed to house a double-sided Escea gas fireplace and flat screen television, Mitch explains that innovative ideas were required in order to duct the air out at floor level, without needing to widen the wall. Doing so, he says, would have compromised the striking lines this particular feature creates, inside and out. Finished using quality Ariana ceramic tiles supplied and installed with precision by Brymac Tiles, the wall elegantly delineates the space.
Redrock Plastering owner Manu Toailoa thoroughly enjoys the challenge that high-end architectural builds present. In particular, Manu says the framing provided some unique, yet ultimately rewarding technical challenges. And the final results speak volumes.
The crisp white exterior of both homes, clad in Rockcote Integra from Resene Construction Systems and finished with Resene Double Alabaster, has been hand-applied to an exceptional standard. Favoured by builders and homeowners alike, this high performing concrete plaster facade is lightweight, durable and low maintenance, providing homes with a weather-tight envelope, and delivering thermal and acoustic benefits.
Both homes benefit from thermally broken aluminium windows and doors from Nulook’s AllSeasons range, supplied by Raylight Aluminium. To give this award-winning architectural home its sleek, contemporary aesthetic, while helping to keep it warm and dry, Low E double glazing was installed, and encased in modern matt black aluminium frames. Although producing windows in unusual shapes and sizes posed a challenge, the fantastic results they achieved, in conjunction with Frost Builders, made for a rewarding experience, says Raylight Aluminium’s project manager, Chris Jamieson.
Trends Kitchens designed, manufactured and installed all joinery throughout both homes, including the kitchen islands, cabinets, and walk-in pantry and laundry, as well as the elegant built-in timber wardrobes in the master bedroom, study nooks, and en suite bathroom vanities.
While both homes share an overarching style, each sports a unique interior that reflects the couples themselves.
With a talented interior designer for a sister-in-law, Martin didn’t think twice about enlisting the services of Paula Comber of Comber and Comber Interiors.
As the project’s design facilitator, qualified interior designer Paula drew from her vast experience to create a contemporary décor style for Martin and Karen, her brother and sister-in-law.
Paula’s extensive industry knowledge of all the latest developments in technology, materials and trends enables her to present her clients with a carefully edited collection of hard and soft furnishings – from the colour palette to wallcoverings, flooring and window treatments, right down to the fixtures and fittings.
Employing a simple, monochrome palette indoors and out, and selecting modern materials for both soft and hard furnishings, Paula’s choices for this home were designed to complement rather than overpower the home’s unique architectural features. With clients who were ‘brave enough to be willing to experiment’ with different ideas, the whole experience was a lot of fun, says Paula.
As the success of any project is rooted in effective communication and the translation of ideas, Paula’s mantra of ‘listen, listen and listen again’ – even before the design can begin to take shape – has led to a cohesive interior scheme that not only meets, but exceeds the clients’ expectations.
A ‘delight’ to deal with, Karen says she was supremely confident in Paula’s abilities to bring their ideas to fruition.
Martin and Karen’s brief to Trends Kitchens was for ‘a crisp, white, modern kitchen with clean lines’. To achieve this, they chose white gloss boards for doors, drawers and panels, which were paired with TriStone Acrylic Solid Surface benchtops in Frost Land. Selected for its non-porous qualities, the TriStone surface doesn’t require sealing and offers practicality and longevity owing to its stain-resistant properties.
The benchtops were designed to be long, thin and sleek, with seamless joins; and, for the ultimate streamlined look, aluminium profile handles from Stefano Orlati were used. To further accentuate the horizontal planes, LED strip lighting was installed on the underside of the island bench, as well as under and above the rangehood cabinets.
In stark contrast, Mark and Lisa, in the neighbouring home, sought an industrial-inspired look with ‘chunky forms’. Using a combination of black honed granite for their kitchen island with brushed stainless steel for the preparation areas in the pantry, the utilitarian vibe was given the lux treatment by adding high-gloss black lacquered cabinets, which are tempered by the warmth of natural timber in the bespoke cabinetry beneath the island.
Working in close collaboration with Paula Comber to select materials, Brymac Tiles supplied and installed exquisite ceramic stone-look tiles, from their exclusive European and Mediterranean collections, in the bathrooms and on the feature wall in Karen and Martin’s living area.
And, in their master en suite, Spanish ceramic Fanal tiles have been used to create a soothing spa-quality ambience. One of Karen’s favourite spots, she loves to indulge in long hot soaks in the bath while stargazing through the skylight directly above.
Working alongside some of the city’s most respected architects and designers, high-end architectural builds are Frost Builders’ specialty, and the company takes pride in the long list of accolades they have achieved. As is always the case, these two exceptional homes stand as monuments to the dedication, skill and aplomb of Frost Builders; and the delight of the homeowners is the ultimate recognition for the team.
Words & styling: Majka Kaiser Photography: Mick Stephenson & Stephen Goodenough