Built by Ainsworth Builders, this striking home represents the refinement of one couple's dreams for the future.
They built their dream home 18 years ago; but when the earthquakes of 2010-11 damaged their beautiful family dwelling beyond repair, the couple were forced to review their dream and build anew. ‘We had intended to live in the original home for a long time, so it was a shock to find ourselves in this position’, they share.
While resigned to losing their big brick home, they were resolved to hold onto their pocket of paradise down a quiet laneway in the heart of Merivale. In its stead, they envisaged a contemporary abode with open living spaces for family life and entertaining that would sit elegantly and at ease in the existing natural landscape.
Seeking direction from Boyd Chamberlain Architecture, the couple found a designer with vision and nous, as well as someone dedicated to working alongside them and their builder throughout the process.
‘It is up to us to present a design that captures the spaces and the style a client desires’, says Boyd; ‘and we are strong believers in designing a home that complements the site’. Here, Boyd’s Frank Lloyd Wright inspired design maximises the living spaces, optimises the sun and offers privacy. In the heart of The Garden City, the home integrates effortlessly with its surrounds, and offers a unique 'Canterbury' interpretation of Lloyd Wright's Prairie style with its flat roofs, broad eaves and horizontal lines.
Ainsworth Builders had recently completed another striking build nearby; and their neighbours spoke glowingly of the professionalism, dedication and first-rate craftsmanship of the team. After hearing such an unequivocal testimony, the couple knew precisely who they wanted to build their home.
Shane Ainsworth has been building for his whole adult life, and has experience building in Australia and the UK. With the built environment of Canterbury changing weekly, he enjoys being part of the developments and playing a key part in what is an exciting, yet often daunting time for homebuilders. ‘For many people, like this couple, building was not something they had planned on doing.’
While resigned to losing their big brick home, they were resolved to hold onto their pocket of paradise down a quiet laneway in the heart of Merivale
From square one, the couple felt supported and involved, with weekly site meetings plotting out the project. ‘Shane walked us through progress and discussed any issues, promptly addressing any concerns we had. He also prepared us for any future decisions we needed to be on top of.’
‘I make sure I am there for each of our clients’, explains Shane. ‘There are so many decisions to make with a build, and it is so important to give people plenty of forewarning and support as they make them.’
The product of numerous decisions and considerations, and the ultimate testament to the technical prowess and professional ethos of the builder: the home itself is simply stunning.
As Shane says, ‘there are a number of new homes coming up in the area, but this one really stands out: the street view is amazing.’ Large planes of perfect plaster offset the Waitaha schist and copper detailing, which are complemented by European-style tray roofing. Soft, yet striking, the use of copper is ‘awesome’, says Shane.
The experienced and fastidious plasterers at Advanced Exterior Plastering supplied and installed the CSR Hebel 50mm Aerated Autoclaved Concrete panels. Utilising the Dulux Plaster and Paint System, the 1mm Float Texture Finish was painted with Hi-Build Acrylic in White Pointer – for a solution that is subtly decorative and highly durable. Satisfying the couple’s desire for ‘clean lines and low maintenance’, plaster has been used on the garage and landscaping walls as well, creating a sense of boldness, coherence and balance.
The completion of the landscaping at the front of the home was a real highlight for the pair. ‘We wanted outdoor spaces for us to enjoy, and for socialising with our friends.’ Greenlinc Nursery + Landscaping completed everything from the driveway construction, to the patios, to the soft landscaping elements. ‘The Greenlinc boys were wonderful in bringing the project together’, the homeowners share.
As Director Thomas van Zijll de Jong explains, due to the difference in the floor height of the newly-constructed home and the existing ground height, there was considerable work undertaken in the base preparation for the driveway and patios before the custom-made pavers could be laid and the concrete poured. Granite setts break up the driveway, adding interest and texture – and tying in elegantly with the schist cladding.
‘We have no plans to build again in the future. Why would we? This is perfect.’
Stepping inside, a five-metre-high feature atrium delivers drama, which concentrates around a constellation of light radiating from two Moooi Raimond spheres. Exquisite satin wallpaper dresses the walls, while a stately staircase with glass balustrade leads its way upstairs. ‘Supremely elegant and spacious, the feel is intimate’, says designer, Boyd Chamberlain – who worked closely with Shane and the couple when it came to fine-tuning the interior architecture.
Mastercraft Kitchens Ashburton designed, manufactured and installed the beautiful Solid American Oak staircase, which as Director Bill Nolan says was a real highlight for the team of joiners.
Mastercraft also completed the joinery for the kitchen and bathrooms. Taking the clients’ concept plans for the kitchen, they re-worked these into highly functional and beautiful working drawings. The design is a showcase of clean lines and cleverly-concealed storage solutions. ‘I wasn’t sure about the walk-in pantry at first’, shares the homeowner; ‘but now I absolutely love it – it enables me to keep all the clutter out of sight and is easy to work in.’
The kitchen features StyleLite high-gloss acrylic in Alabaster, which contrasts with the American White Oak veneer, stained dark, on the island panels and doors above the cooktop. Delineating the space in the most stunning, and practical, way is a stunning Caesarstone Frosty Carrina island bench, above which float elegant copper pendants, which enliven and elevate the space.
Ensuring the trifecta of comfort, entertainment and energy efficiency was the experienced team of electricians from Brook Electrical. ‘They gave advice and were flexible and listened to exactly what we wanted’, share the homeowners.
As director Paddy Brook says, working with clients to ensure that the electrical work is perfect – to meet their wants and needs – is instrumental to the liveability of any home.
The house may epitomise ‘effortless’ elegance; yet numerous details and decisions contributed to this result. Everyone involved on the project shared a commitment to getting it just right – from Boyd, who worked closely with Shane and the couple throughout construction, to the strong line-up of subcontractors.
As Shane says, ‘we are only as good as our subcontractors: we work with them because we know they share our commitment to doing an outstanding job, and because of the respect they have for our clients.’
Something the couple certainly appreciated. ‘The Senior Foreman, Grant Knaggs, was a pleasure to work with and so obliging – nothing was a problem. Together, with the team of committed and reliable subcontractors, he and Shane made the experience smooth-sailing and enjoyable.’
Beginning with a glowing endorsement from a neighbour, these homeowners struck gold with Ainsworth Builders. As the built landscape of the region continues to develop, and the next wave of homebuilders embarks on this daunting journey, the couple will be sure to pass on the recommendation. ‘Shane is very hands-on and personable. He was so easy to get along with, and that took away all the stress for us.’
This, the couple’s second ‘dream home’, is markedly different from its antecedent: from the striking copper and Waitaha schist split-face veneer, to the elegant, flowing living spaces, it embodies the couple’s vision for the future.
While the earthquakes shattered the bricks of their original dream home, they also heralded a new beginning. ‘There are so many things we love about the home. While the earthquakes were destructive for us, we feel we have turned a bad situation into something really great.
‘We have no plans to build again in the future. Why would we? This is perfect.’