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Moving to Wellington proved seamless for this family who worked closely with David Reid Homes to achieve the contemporary, detail-rich home they desired

Designed by David Reid Homes and the homeowners,

From the home builder:

This family home in Karori accommodates three teenagers and their sociable parents with ease.

“Well we didn’t move here because of the weather,” says one of the owners. 

That must rank as an understatement of note for this family that swapped the tropical heat of Singapore for the coolest little capital in the world – Wellington.

But the couple and their three children don’t miss the constant humidity. 

And although they do sometimes hanker for the big-city buzz, their new home has more than enough to recommend it over apartment living.

One owner's dad, a Wellingtonian born and bred, who working under direction from his daughter, discovered the section in this corner of Karori they now call their own. 

At 900m², it was roomy in size, just 10 minutes from town but most of all… it was flat. 


A tumbledown Californian bungalow occupied the site. 

“I didn’t love the house and it faced the wrong way, but I did love the piece of land,” says one owner. 

And her partner, a keen surfer, who might have preferred living closer to the sea, agreed.

After shivering through a winter, the couple realised this project was a bigger renovation than they were willing to take on. 

They hadn’t built before but now was their chance. 

“When I left the country 25 years ago, I had never heard of David Reid Homes,” says the same owner. 

But she did some research and was convinced by the aesthetic and the quality of the new-builds she saw. 

“I didn’t want a kitset or to buy off plans. 

"I wanted some involvement in the design, and I liked the security of working with a company that provided a framework around that and would project-manage the job.”

So the process began to create a family home that had 'light, light, light' with big windows to capture the sun and to bring the sense of suburban greenery indoors. 

With three teenagers and their enthusiastic golden retriever, top of mind, she also wanted space and a somewhat bulletproof material palette.

Her brief to David Reid was for a contemporary architectural style: “If I wasn’t going to have an ornate renovated villa, I’d rather go ‘boxy’ and clean-lined so that I could add the character with the Asian furniture and art we’ve collected.”

Demolishers removed the bungalow, salvaging what they could, and the new two-storey 260m² home is sited towards the rear of the section so the living and outdoor areas can face north. 

The influence of living in Singapore for several years may not be immediately apparent but, explains the homeowner, black and white houses (colonial bungalows with dark timber beams and whitewashed walls) are now rare but sought after in that country – and this look is reinterpreted here.   

The lower level, clad in dark-stained cedar board, looks smart and geometric. 

The vertical boards are random width to lend texture to the façade which wraps over the garage and a blade wall that hides the living room from the driveway. 

This downstairs zone has the kitchen and dining room too plus a master suite where the same owner finds the walk-in wardrobe a real treat.

To break up the bulk of the form, the upper level is staggered and pushed back towards the rear of the site. 

Clad in a concrete-look panel, this floor is painted white and a cantilevered section slices through one corner to hang above the entrance, sheltering it from the elements.

Just beyond the front door, the stairwell is concrete but is softened by a handrail and entrance screen crafted from pieces of matai boards rescued from the old bungalow. 

“My dad painstakingly removed them from the floor and then David Reid worked them into the design; they really add warmth.”

If there’s one thing the owner has learnt during the process, it’s this: details count. 

She’s pleased to have been guided through a myriad choices. 

“It’s those little things you don’t normally think that much about that make the difference. 

"For instance, put the electricity points and light-fittings in the wrong spot and you’ll soon regret it.” 

The owner was accompanied to the paint shop, the tile shop and the carpet shop by the interior designer from David Reid to make the selection. 

“It was good to have someone there to guide me as there were so many decisions.” 

And although she made few changes to the layout of the home, she is glad she up-specced from standard where she thought it would make a difference (the marble-look tiles in the en suite are a case in point).

The result is a home that the family has made their own. 

Against white walls, she included elements of colour with orange velvet cushions on comfy sofas and artwork bought from Vietnam, a reminder of their history. 

From morning to night, the house embraces the family's lifestyle – from the time the teenage trio saunter down from their bedrooms sleepy-eyed to make smoothies and toast at the breakfast station hidden away in the scullery, to the evenings when they ask their parents to move the car out of the garage so they can convert it into their home gym.

Essentially – it just works.

Not long ago, the other surfer owner celebrated his 50th birthday: it was a good opportunity to have friends and family around. 

The couple moved the sofas to the sides of the open-plan living area, the wine fridge came into its own and guests spilled out onto the deck and lawn.

It may sound like a cliché but the owners relished the indoor/outdoor flow. 

"Wellington on a good day – you couldn’t beat it." 

After decades away, the couple are truly home.

Family-proof design – some heads-up tips 

Three teenagers and an exuberant dog meant the couple needed a robust home that could roll with the punches of everyday life. 

Here are their tips:

  • Ensure the floorplan provides some separation between generations so that everyone has their privacy – in this home, the teenagers are corralled in the upper levels which also features their own TV room while the parents have an ensuite bedroom downstairs
  • A concrete floor (heated) is forgiving of dirt and means footprints and paw prints are easily wiped away. Learn to be more relaxed with the flaws. “My dad says there are only two types of concrete,” says the owner. “Concrete that is cracked and concrete that will crack.”
  • Extra wide hallways and an extra wide stairwell mean more room for boisterousness.
  • If possible, include a scullery where the children can use a jug, toaster and microwave to make their own meals without the mess being on show. Even if that is only pot noodles!
  • Carpet the garage so it can be adapted as a flexi room. It might be used as an office, or a home gym, or even a studio space.

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 about this showhome here – or check out David Reid Homes' broad range of custom designed homes here

Designed by: David Reid Homes

Story by: Trendsideas

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