Paradise reclaimed

Expat owners return from bustling Hong Kong to a crafted new family home oriented for sun and fun and nestled on their own gently sloping patch of the green, green grass of home

Cedar and zinc cladding create ideal cladding partners
Cedar and zinc cladding create ideal cladding partners for this North Shore home by house designers Box.

Designed by Tony Borland-Lye, Box Build

It’s a familiar story: when youngsters enter the picture, the excitement of the big-city dream tends to pale. Childhood memories of beaches, open space and a more relaxed pace suddenly become irresistible.

Expat Luisa Andrew and her Scottish husband Stephen Dewar were living with three young children in a Hong Kong terrace house when they answered the call of Kiwi lifestyle. They decided to build on this Waiake section on Auckland’s North Shore, which they had already owned for several years.

The brief, understandably, included a wish for “as much grassy space as possible”. The old ’70s home that occupied the land was moved off, with the new dwelling pushed closer to the road to make room for a north-facing lawn.

The new home – replacing an existing '70s
The new home – replacing an existing '70s home – is pushed towards the street to make space for a north-facing lawn.

Box design manager Tony Borland-Lye and design lead Tim Hogarth set about crafting a home that was oriented for sun and fun on the gently sloping land.  The only challenge was an overland flow path.

“In a storm, the collected rain flows across the site, so we had to maintain a minimum floor level above the natural ground. We also gently sloped the driveway to channel any water away from the house,” says Hogarth.

The 220m² home was conceptualised as a floating cedar box over a metal box anchored to the ground. The building massing doesn’t dominate the coastal suburban property, even though it enjoys a generous floorplan.

“The top level is cantilevered and interconnected with the lower box, resulting in a less monolithic building volume,” he says.

The ground floor, clad in interlocking zinc metal sheets, contains all the living zones. Upstairs, the cedar box has three bedrooms and a master suite, with a balcony that overlooks a reserve path. A giant 6m-wide glass sliding door opens from the living/kitchen zone to a covered deck created by the floor above, with wide stairs lead down to a backyard where the grass is certainly greener.

The upper floor provides shelter for the downstairs
The upper floor provides shelter for the downstairs outdoor deck/living space.

The ground floor also has a study – a home office that came in super handy during the latest lockdown – plus a flexi room with a built-in, pull-down bed. It was important the couple have somewhere for overseas family to stay.

Box suggested this as a second living room that could be converted to a bedroom when needed.

“If you heat-mapped the home, there wouldn’t be any spaces that we don’t regularly occupy,” says Luisa Andrew.

In the everyday, once the kids walk home from school or return from the beach, the family tend to gather in the kitchen. 

“It was Box’s idea to have a scullery where we could put the jug and the toaster, which makes the main space tidier,” she says.

The bamboo plywood cabinetry material was a practical choice for the kitchen and bathrooms, as other materials could show up messy fingerprints.

Warm yellow tiles to the kitchen splashback match the sunshine shade of the coloured front door. The coordinating yellow mailbox has become a talking point in the neighbourhood.

“Everyone in our suburb identifies us as belonging to the house with the yellow door and mailbox,” Luisa Andrew says. 

Floor-to-ceiling windows mean the living spaces are flooded
Floor-to-ceiling windows mean the living spaces are flooded with light.

Credit list

Box Build
Kitchen manufacturer
Fluid Interiors
Cedar and zinc Cladding
Window/door joinery
Cabinetry bamboo panels
Resene Lumbersider Ultra Deep; Resene Black White on interior walls; Resene Bakora Grey to cedar screen
West City Heating Services
Trends International Design Awards (TIDA) Homes – Highly Commended
Tim Hogarth, Box Build
Kitchen and interior designer
Tim Hogarth, Box Build
Format Landscapes
Engineered wood, by Vienna Woods; Bremworth Overtones in colour Leadlight, from Flooring Studio
MC Tiles
Feature lighting

Designed by: Tony Borland-Lye, Box Build

Story by: Trendsideas

Photography by: Sophie Heyworth

23 May, 2021

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