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The living is easy – A contemporary seaside home by Michael Mansvelt

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A contemporary seaside home by Michael Mansvelt

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Coastal properties are highly sought after and generally don't stay on the market for long. When such properties do change hands it can be an uneasy time for neighbours as they await any development of the site.

For Harvey and Kaye Dunlop, development of their seaside block was a long time coming – they have owned the property for 10 years. In that time, the couple were able to establish a good rapport with their neighbours, which they wanted to preserve when they eventually set about building a new home.

"When we bought the property it had a 1920s American bungalow and a small 1970s-era bach. We on-sold the bungalow and retained the bach as a holiday home," says Harvey Dunlop.

"About six years ago we moved into the bach full time and thought long and hard about the home we would build. Local planning allowed for up to three dwellings on the site, which as a commercial developer, I have to admit did appeal to me. However, that would have required each to be multistorey, blocking the view for the properties behind."

That's where friend and architectural designer Michael Mansvelt stepped in.


"I had visited Kaye and Harvey several times over the years and had formulated in my head what I thought would be the perfect house for the site, and told them so. One day, I ran into Harvey in town and he basically told me it was time to get something down on paper.

"Later that day he called round and I showed him my design," says Mansvelt.

Comprising three pavilions staggered across the site, the house offers easy circulation within and seamless connection to the outdoors from just about every room, the designer says.

"It is an uncomplicated design in that the spaces just flow into each other naturally. I'm not a fan of internal hallways – I consider them dead space, and with such an expansive view, it made sense to create open, flowing spaces with the potential to adapt to changing needs."

In keeping with the theme of simplicity, minimal ground works were carried out, and the house follows the contours of the site.

"The site falls from right to left, so there's a step up between the bedroom and kitchen pavilions," says Mansvelt. "Increasing the height of the ceiling in the living room pavilion by the same amount maintains visual continuity."

Continuity of a different kind was also high on the agenda, says Mansvelt.

"As a landscape designer I am mindful of the connection between the built and natural environments.

"With this project it was important not only to provide a seamless transition between indoors and out, but also for the house itself to have an affinity with its surroundings."

The designer chose a palette of local split stone and cedar for the exterior cladding, which is augmented by polished concrete floors and aluminium joinery.

"The stone accents tie in nicely with the rocky shoreline, while the cedar will acquire a grey patina as the property ages. The polished concrete mimics the look of wet sand and the aluminium joinery is a nice, neutral material.

"Given the coastal environment, I wanted materials that would age naturally. I didn't want the house to be in conflict with the elements."

For the owners, the success of the property lies in being able to carry on with the lifestyle they were already living.

"When you live in an 80m2 bach for any length of time, you develop a way of life that makes you aware of all the superfluities you tell yourself you couldn't possibly live without, but really don't need. This project was about building a house that would allow us to live comfortably and stay in tune with that ethos, without infringing on other people."

"It's not an ostentatious house or precious in any way," says Mansvelt. "It's been designed to mature and evolve over time as Kaye and Harvey require – nothing more, nothing less."

First published date: 30 July 2012

Credit List

Architectural and landscape designer Michael Mansvelt, Plantation Design Studio (New Plymouth)
Interior designer Alisha Mansvelt, Plantation Design Studio
Builder Neil Barnes Builders
Kitchen designer Peter Baylis CKDNZ, Vogue Kitchens & Appliances
Kitchen manufacturer Vogue Kitchens & Appliances
Cladding Custom powdercoated aluminium barge flashing from Rivet; Waiwakaiho River stone from New Plymouth Quarries
Stonemason Andrew Benton
Roofing Millwards Roofing
Flooring Polished concrete by Fraser Flooring; Ecostrand Sundancer from Cleggs Carpet Court
Paints and varnishes Resene
Heating system SunFlow radiant underfloor heating from Climate
Doors and windows Sovereign Series satin anodised with clear double glazing from Nulook Windows & Doors
Audio visual Apple TV and Mac mini; Onkyo AV amp, Tannoy speakers and sub-woofer from Crane Audio
Television Samsung 58in 3-D plasma
Benchtops Corian Iceberg
Splashback Frangipani glass mosaics
Taps Mico
Vanity American oak and Corian
Shower enclosure Metro GlassTech
Bath Napoli by Victoria + Albert
Toilet Villeroy & Boch from Plumbing World
Blinds Metroshade Dove blockout blinds from Blindz Direct
Entry system DataTalk
Garage door Sectional door by Garador from Omega Garage Doors
Pathway tiles Granite from SSL Group
Fireplace Custom gas fire from Living Flame
Stainless steel capping Rivet
Lawn Regal Staygreen kikuyu instant turf from Turf workz