Design News

How risky design choices have paid off as this new-build nears its end

Article by Homes to Love

With just weeks to go, Oliver and Ella are beginning to see some of their interior design choices come to life. See how the new-build is progressing below.

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It’s only weeks from moving day and our My New Home homeowners Oliver Driver and Ella Mizrahi are waking up at night panicking that their new build isn’t going to be ready in time for them to move in.

They’ve given notice at their rental and booked the moving truck, so their deadline is non-negotiable. But less than a month out, the David Ponting-designed home in the Auckland suburb of Te Atatu Peninsula looks more like a bomb site than a building site.

“It just doesn’t look like it’s going to come together,” says Oliver. “We may be living with the builders.” After months of painstaking work as the team from JR Hosking Carpenters & Co established the foundations, laid the underfloor, raised the walls, added the roof and clad the exterior, all the interior finishing jobs are happening at once.

Tradespeople are on high rotation, installing wiring and plumbing, lining, plastering and sanding the walls, painting, tiling, and laying the flooring and carpet. The custom-made cabinetry from Innovative Kitchens and a brand new suite of Haier appliances stand ready to be installed.

“It’s fun seeing it all come together like a proper house,” says Oliver. “We can finally see whether our decisions have worked or not, and it’s such a relief that they do! We’re lucky that Ella’s really good at visualising – if I had chosen it would be a disaster.”

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The couple had a moment’s stress when the wall linings went up, and suddenly the rooms felt small and dark. “But as soon as the walls were painted, everything felt light and bright.” Oliver says choosing paint colours was tricky. “The first time Ella went to the Resene ColorShop she chose five different kinds of white to be safe, but I encouraged her to be braver and bolder.”

So they booked a colour consultation with Brooke Calvert from Resene, who helped them put together a colour palette that stuck with a low-sheen white (Resene Quarter White Pointer) in the living areas, but enlivened the bedrooms with pops of colour. “The living area is white to showcase our art, then you open the bedroom doors and they’re all different colours,” says Oliver. Otis’ room is soft yellow with a cactus wallpaper, Etta’s is tangerine with a dog print wallpaper, and the main bedroom is a restful sage green (Half Robin Egg Blue), chosen to tone with a favourite artwork.

Choosing carpet for the bedrooms also had its challenges. Wooed by its ultra-soft pile, Ella initially fell for a more expensive carpet than their budget would allow. However, Anthony Gilmour from Carpet Court steered her toward the Rhino Portland range, a more affordable option that still looks great, while providing all the durability they need with a dog and two kids. Featuring SmartStrand Forever Clean technology, it’s super easy to clean. “You can drop red wine on it and the colour just sits on the top and doesn’t soak in,” says Anthony. “That’s why we call it Rhino carpet.”

The warm neutral carpet (Oyster Shell) will tone beautifully with the Nature’s Oak matt-finished engineered wood floorboards being installed throughout the living areas. In a colour called Matterhorn, they’re slightly wider than normal floorboards. “It’s a nice modern width,” says Anthony. “I think it’ll look lovely.”

Before visiting the local Tile Space showroom to choose tiles for the bathrooms, kitchen and laundry, Ella updated her look-book with photos of tiled interiors she liked. “We love it when people bring inspirational photos, swatches and plans into the store so we can help them narrow down a look,” says Mahsa Halajpour, branch manager of Tile Space Henderson. “We also have hundreds of in-situ photos on our website so people can see how a particular tile or look works in real life. Then they can borrow samples to take home before making a final decision – it’s always good to look at them in the space.”

Once I saw how good the tiles looked...

I felt more confident

As well as helping Ella choose tiles, Mahsa shared handy advice on how to install them for maximum impact. “As a rule of thumb, rectangular tiles will make the direction that they are laid in look longer. For instance, if you have a low ceiling you could lay the tiles vertically to make the ceiling look higher.” Inspired, Ella and Oliver decided to install their white rectangular kitchen splashback tiles vertically rather than horizontally.

“When I saw the tiles go up I nearly cried,” says Ella. “I felt like I was making risky choices, but once I saw how good the tiles looked I felt more confident that it was all going to be fine – it made me back myself more. It meant that in other decisions, such as choosing benchtops in two different colours of Cosentino Dekton, I was more confident to push for what I wanted than I would have been at the beginning of the project.”

One of Ella’s braver choices was the white tiles with a blue octagonal pattern that she chose for the laundry floor. Partnered with complementary Resene Shadowy Blue on the walls, they add interest to what might otherwise have been a dull hallway laundry. Once the Haier Direct Drive 8.5kg Front Loader Washing Machine and 8kg Condenser Dryer have been installed one above the other (a Haier stacking kit makes this easy) the room will be so smart that it won’t matter if the sliding doors to the hallway get left open from time to time.

The front-loader washing machine is so quiet that it won’t disturb the kids’ afternoon naps. Its direct drive technology means fewer motor components, resulting in minimal vibration and a quieter, more efficient wash cycle. And the condenser dryer means venting is not an isssue – the water is collected in an internal tank or just drains out into the laundry tub.

The other practical feature Oliver’s looking forward to using is the custom-built walk-in wardrobe that’s recently been installed. “It’s amazing,” he says. “I’ve never in my entire life had a wardrobe like that – I’ve always just had a drawer and a floor.”

Because he’s so tall, The Wardrobe Company tailored his side of the wardrobe to make sure his clothes would fit. “We ascertained that Oliver needed storage for trousers and shirts so we incorporated Hettich pull-out trouser racks with shirts hanging above,” says Darel Clinch of The Wardrobe Company. “His folded items will go into drawers, with open shelving for bulkier items.”

Ella wears a lot of separates, so her side of the wardrobe features double short hanging as well as drawers, open shelving and pull-out shoe shelving. Darel also suggested clever space-savers, such as fitting a full-length mirror into the cavity sliding door between the wardrobe and the ensuite, and added a wardrobe to Etta’s room.

“We fitted out the interior and supplied whisper aluminium framed sliding doors,” says Darel. “The combination of double short hanging, medium hanging and open shelving saves on having to have other storage in the bedroom.”

With the end finally, in sight, Oliver says the last few weeks of the build have been the most intense. “There are just a billion things to decide – it’s quite overwhelming. We’re at the stage now where we just want to be in our house so we can stop having to think about it.

“Everyone’s working super hard. They’re working weekends to get it done because we do have a strict deadline. So whatever state this house is in we’re moving into it!”

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