Open hearted and all about family

Echoing the sunny Mid-century Modern Californian vernacular, this light-filled David Reid Homes courtyard-centric residence combines style with flowing family functionality

Design by David Reid Homes 

Story by Claire McCall

Architectural masterstroke

Courtyards may have existed since ancient times but the California Modernists claimed this built form as their own when they wrapped a house around it and inserted a pool. 

In this home, in Auckland’s Westmere, the courtyard is an architectural masterstroke: the blue slash of pool is minimal and cool, a study in geometric precision against a granite-wall backdrop. 

But it’s also a touch of human genius. 

The owners have three daughters and knew this courtyard with its sunken outdoor living room would be a drawcard for gatherings. 

“We’re a social family and wanted a home where the girls would bring their friends so we could keep a distant eye on them,” says one owner.

The couple are no strangers to the excitement and challenges of the design-and-build game. 

Owners with experience

As David Reid franchise owners for 18 years, the pair have built three times. 

“It’s a big deal building a house – one of the most emotional things most of our homeowners will do – we understand that because we’ve lived it,” says the same owner.

So they expected to rent during the construction phase, they understood the council-consent process and anticipated the myriad decisions that would need to be made but… they hadn’t counted on a COVID-19 crisis. 

Full credit to the wraparound team, particularly builder Andy Marshall, because their plans were not derailed. 

“We scheduled 12 months for the project and moved in one year plus one month of lockdown later – on the dot,” she says. 

This gently sloping 960m² site was a rare find for the area. 

The land is narrow but a generous size and backs onto a bush-fringed creek. 

Mid-century Palm Springs aesthetic

The couple sold the little old house on the section to the removal company and set about working with their favourite team to craft a contemporary dwelling, inspired by the Mid-century Palm Springs aesthetic. 

From the street, the home with its horizontal roof planes looks decidedly modern. 

The cladding of narrow cedar board runs vertically in gentle counterpoint – in size and appearance, it’s all very low key. 

“We didn’t want anything ostentatious,” says the owner. “That’s not our style.”

Once through the front door, there is an inkling of something special to come. 

An open-tread suspended timber staircase floats in the entry space and Chief, the Labrador cross, gives one and all an ebullient welcome. 

Courtyard centrepiece

From here, the design reveals itself slowly – until a corner is turned and the ‘wow’ moment that takes in the courtyard becomes apparent.

The same owner, who has a marketing background, has picked up spatial and interior design skills by osmosis along the way. 

She knew she needed to soften the structural envelope. 

So while concrete floors, black-framed glazing and white walls in the main living areas are minimalist almost brutal, they are not stark. 

On the fireplace wall, the paintwork has subtle texture that reflects the abundant light that streams through floor-to-ceiling glass sliders. 

A built-in timber ledge is both a hearth and bench-seats that flank the fire and bring symmetry to the space. 

Teen friendly

Dark-gold squabs are a colourful, warming element against a pair of custom-designed white sofas – which was a brave choice for a family that encourages teen parties. 

“I had them specially treated in case of mishaps,” the owner says.  

The Tom Dixon pendant, a beautiful golden orb, is a statement piece that casts patterned shadows onto the white backdrop at night. 

A sophisticated (and well-ordered) kitchen

In the kitchen, she wanted to capture the sophistication of an upmarket hotel – with a practical slant. 

Appliances are integrated behind American oak cabinetry and a tiled splashback has brown veining in an urbane twist. 

Open shelving that hangs above the island would look the part in a chi-chi bar and the design team had to be inventive to insert LED lighting into its base so there was enough light for food preparation. 

“It’s a great space to have coffee or a wine and also acts as a breakfast bar for the kids.” 

However, where the owner's touch is most evident is in the butler’s pantry with a toaster, jug and blender on one side, to contain the teen-and-tween morning mayhem, and a wine and cocktail making station on the other. 

In-between is the open-shelved pantry, where a line-up of labelled jars is so organised it would make Martha Stewart envious. 

“I have to admit to being a bit OCD,” she says. 

Just as well then, that the house allows some separation between the generations. 

While two of the girls sleep on the main floor, the couple's oldest daughter has a bedroom and bathroom downstairs with direct access to the lawn and its backdrop of native bush. 

“We made the doorways in this lower level of the home over-height and added an extra side window so the spaces felt lighter and bigger.” 

Upstairs sanctuary

For their part, the couple can retreat to their sanctuary on the upper level where there’s a window-seat for reading in the sun, a built-in desk for unexpected work-from-home times, an en suite and walk-in wardrobe where, surprise surprise, the owner quoted has arranged her clothes by type and colour. 

Just one month after the family moved in, the couple hosted a surprise birthday party for their youngest daughter's 16th. 

The group of gorgeous partygoers settled into the spaces just as the owner-couple had anticipated. 

Some spilled out into the TV room and grassed area in the downstairs zone, but soon they were grouped in the sunken outdoor living area around the fireplace. 

From their exquisite eyrie upstairs, the adults kept an ear on proceedings: it felt like the right time to raise a glass to the success of this meticulous and very personal project.

Contact David Reid Homes today

If you and your family want a new home that responds to your specific needs, down to every detail, then visit the nationwide homebuilder here

You can also see more of this home here – or check out David Reid Homes' broad range of custom designed homes here

Designed by: David Reid Homes

Story by: By Claire McCall

29 Jan, 2023

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