This impressive high-end architectural home, designed by Walker Architecture and built by Switched On Building Solutions, captured all the desires of one Christchurch family.
With three grown-up children, grandchildren and a total of four dogs, Geoff and Sue sought a new place to stretch their legs. Prestons marked the perfect spot, and now the family celebrates a home that allows them to nurture family relationships and enjoy a better connection with the natural environment.
The couple’s design brief was simple: clean lines, functionality and an uncluttered interior. Not a difficult task to achieve when you have a solid team of professionals working together to achieve the best possible outcome for their clients.
The decision to use Switched On Building Solutions to bring their vision to life wasn't made just because they were directors of the company. With 30 years of industry experience and a stellar portfolio of award-winning projects, the choice was a no-brainer.
Operations manager Ray Brill delivered a remarkable modern home with a simple design and cohesion between indoors and out. Before building commenced, the Switched On team knew this was going to be a challenging but rewarding project. For, while the design appeared to be simple on paper, the homeowners wanted to incorporate a raft of carefully selected details.
The fine craftsmanship of this one-level 373sqm home is apparent from the moment you feast your eyes upon its striking vertical cedar weatherboard exterior with tray roofing. Enhancing the presence of the home, the feature stone-work on the outside kitchen area also taps into the surrounding environment.
The world inside comprises three bedrooms, two bathrooms, open-plan living and kitchen, scullery and a media room with a large overhead projection screen. Two private outdoor spaces stretch out towards the lake, by way of a large hardwood deck facing east, and a large tiled patio with outside fire and louvres facing west. It’s a place the homeowners like to call their ‘French Quarter’.
Switched On were determined to not only meet but exceed building guidelines. Items such as argon double glazing, superior insulation, polystyrene panels in the concrete floor and sound baffling between rooms were utilised. Level 5 stopping was requested throughout, including in the garage and wardrobes.
The simple but effective architecture of the home is the handy work of Jason Walker, managing director at Walker Architecture. The design encompasses the homeowners’ brief of creating a smart, contemporary home, with a layout – indoors and out – that delivers spaces for family life to play out and for entertaining friends. Jason was able to capture our vision ‘to perfection’, says Geoff.
The couple wanted ‘to have openness to a point, but for the entertaining spaces to have a somewhat traditional degree of separation’, explains Jason. The result is a house with simple cross geometric forms and a limited palette of natural materials. ‘These two intersecting forms essentially demarcate the functions of the house, by splitting the public and private zones and giving the main living spaces the best views and plenty of natural light.’
The use of only two materials on the exterior, cedar and tray roofing, achieves a simple, yet striking appearance. ‘Cedar is a warm monolithic cladding, but is still extremely sharp in appearance’, says Jason.
The interior contrasts with the exterior, and the words ‘light on its feet’ come to mind. The use of neutral Resene paints, including Half Wan White on trims, Resene Surrender in the main bedroom, and Resene Half Casper in the guest bedroom, creates a light, bright interior. The no-fuss décor accentuates the less-is-more approach and reflects the homeowners’ style.
Awning windows and double doors throughout the home not only allow light to reach the far corners, they enable the homeowners to look to the garden and lake with a fresh perspective depending on the lookout spot.
‘We have multiple areas to utilise’, says Sue – ‘from reading a book in the main bedroom with its beautiful views, to sitting out on the deck that is cantilevered over the lake, to enjoying a wine in front of the outdoor fire as the sun goes down. On sunny days we can open the sliders in the informal dining area on both sides and have a very nice inside-outside flow. Our new house has a lovely homely feel, which was exactly what we wanted’, she says.
Jane Swinard from Jane Swinard Design was tasked with making the interior flow. A wide range of finishes were used, from flooring, wall colour, wallpaper and furniture, through to bedding and accessories, to achieve a sense of ‘unpretentious comfort and style’. Jane worked closely with kitchen and bathroom designer Ingrid Geldof to perfect these finer details.
Jane says that Geoff and Sue had ‘a real appreciation for quality and fine detail’, sharing that she sometimes pushed them ‘beyond their comfort zone’ in order to create a house ‘with soul’.
Warmth was created throughout the home with the use of timber that adds richness and interest, and lighting, supplied by Accent Lighting. The lighting design was carefully considered to enhance the home’s sleek, modern style. Accent Lighting is known for its unique fittings sourced from all over Europe, and the choice of lights provides the home with appropriate illumination to create a flattering ambience and subtle glow.
The kitchen needed to be extra special. ‘Our daughter is an accomplished cook with professional experience, and we envisaged many good times preparing meals together’, says Geoff. A recommendation from the architect put Ingrid Geldof, award-winning kitchen and bathroom designer, into the playing field.
Ingrid’s expertise drove the design of the kitchen and walk-through scullery, which needed to be spacious and have effective functionality with multiple ovens and bench space. ‘We discussed all the couple’s needs and wants in depth’, says Ingrid, ‘and decided upon creating a central core with the kitchen and scullery spaces’.
Formulating a design in a relatively narrow area proved challenging, particularly with the clients’ storage requirements. So, Ingrid designed the scullery to be ‘completely hidden on the side so the space reads as one box’.
She chose to wrap the room in a dark-stained crown-cut American oak veneer to add contrast to the neutral backdrop and ‘bring a bit of the outside in’. Coated in lacquered Resene Wan White is the kitchen island joinery with Caesarstone Osprey bench. ‘The black frame at either end of the island emulates the top of the chimney on the outside of the house’, she adds.
The bathrooms were designed to be private, but also to allow more than one person to use them at once. In favour of a touch of drama and character, patterned walls were achieved in the guest bathroom using Cole & Son Malabar Bronze on Black wallpaper.
Stylish fittings and tapware from Oakleys Plumbing Supplies provided the final key touches. Oakleys’ consultant Ashlee Marsden worked alongside Ingrid Geldof and co-designer Rachel Barnes to select smart, high-quality bathroom products and plumbing supplies. The guest bathroom features a Victoria + Albert Amalfi basin made of Quarrycast, a material made using finely ground volcanic limestone; meanwhile, a Cupid bath adds ‘a sculptural element’, says Ashlee.
When it came to the kitchen tap, the homeowners sought one that lit up, and Oakleys had just the ticket. ‘The Italian-made Gessi sink mixer, from Plumbline, lights up the water coming out and changes colour as the temperature changes.’
From the neutral, glistening porcelain floor tiles in the open-plan kitchen and dining rooms, to the textured Porcelanosa tiles that offer a sleek twist in the bathrooms, Nextdore ensured the home makes a timeless and impressive statement. The surface specialists know how to add a touch of European luxury with innovative design and supreme quality – combining first-class materials in a natural and well-thought-out way.
Outside, Morgan + Pollard Landscape Architecture set the entire garden on the right track – achieved in part thanks to the couple’s forward planning in reclaiming part of the existing lake, and their preliminary effort planting natives to attract the bellbirds, quail, pheasants and fantails.
Adam Pollard, managing director, describes how he had to work with a site that was particularly wet with peat soil. With this in mind, Geoff and Sue decided to raise the whole floor 300mm following water level concerns raised post-earthquake.
Adam selected a range of plants that were suitable for wet conditions, sourced from all over New Zealand. The shrubs around the garden help to ‘connect the home to the ground, softening lines and providing a natural feel to the house’, says Adam.
Everyone involved in the project, from the builder to the landscape architects, made the entire experience a pleasure from start to finish.
‘Let’s face it: you hear stories of how building was “a nightmare”. An honest and trusting relationship has to be built and developed throughout the process, to ensure all parties are happy with the outcome’, Geoff says.
‘We’re really proud of our Switched On family who were helpful, polite and professional. The subcontractors delivered excellent service and everyone worked well together.
‘The finished result is of an extremely high standard, which has allowed us to enter the house into multiple awards this year for painting, building and joinery’, he continues.
Switched On couldn’t be happier with the outcome. ‘We came out with a high-quality home that everyone should be proud of’, Ray says. ‘Geoff and Sue were excited about the progress of the build, and appreciated the time we took to communicate with them at every stage. They had been dreaming up their new home for a very long time and knew exactly what they wanted. We are proud to have been able to deliver a home that they love.’
Words: Davina Whitcher Photography: Clinton Lloyd Photography & SNAP! Photography