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Country living suits this family of four in a stylish new build

Adult and children pods separated by a large living space has resulted in perfect family harmony

Meet & greet

Lucy Wildman and Fran Frost (founders/co-owners of Little Flock of Horrors), their son Iggy, 13, and daughter Frankie, 12, and three griffons, Leroy, Stevie and Bonnie.

The property

Single-level three-bedroom new-build on a two-hectare lifestyle block in Ramarama, Auckland.

Deciding to downshift from the suburbs to a lifestyle block can sometimes be a bumpy ride. Especially when one of you is a little bit country, and the other is a little bit rock ’n’ roll.

To be fair, both Lucy Wildman and her husband Fran Frost have a cool vibe about them. They met while snowboarding in the US, where Fran is from, before opening a snowboarding shop in Vermont. After returning to Auckland in 2008, the couple launched a children’s clothing company, Little Flock of Horrors.

But when it came to putting down roots, Fran was a strong advocate for the rural life. “Fran always wanted the same rural lifestyle for our kids that he had in Vermont,” says Lucy who grew up on
a farm near Palmerston North but much preferred city living.

The couple launched their merino wool business in 2014, in response to their son Iggy’s medical issues. “Merino wool clothing can help to regulate temperature so it’s much better against children’s skin than polyester. It really worked for Iggy so that was the starting point for our business,” says Lucy, who now designs the clothing while Fran looks after sales.

Moving to the country

The couple started their Kiwi journey in a three-bedroom house near their shop in Papakura, Auckland before moving to a bigger house nearby after having children. But a desire for more room and the peaceful country life prompted them to house hunt in Ramamara, south of Auckland.

“We’d never really thought about building our own home but there weren’t many houses for sale when we were looking in 2021. So, when a two-hectare section came up on Trade Me, we jumped at it,” says Lucy.

Living in a tiny cabin on a friend’s property while their 268sqm home was designed and built wasn’t the easiest, but it gave Lucy time to clarify her vision.

“We wanted lots of bright, airy spaces, especially after being squashed in the cabin for 14 months. That included a large communal area because we tend to hang out a lot as a family.”

The design the family settled on, with the help of Pukekohe architect Mark Ravening of Ravening Design, was a one-storey property, divided into three pods – a large living space book-ended by the children’s and adult wings.

They chose macrocarpa battens for the front of the two end pods to break up the black-on-black of the house and seamlessly integrate with the natural tones of the surrounding landscape.

Furniture finds

Lucy put her time in the cabin to good use, sourcing furniture for their new home. That includes the curved grey sofa, which comes from Koko Classics, and the ’70s mustard sofa and red chair Lucy found on Trade Me. “There’s a guy in Devonport who upcycles old furniture and, when I saw these, I knew they’d be perfect for the space.”

Ever the savvy shopper, Lucy also found numerous bargains at Kmart, from the kitchen island stools to planters. The wooden dining table came from Lucy’s sister while the matching chairs were gifted by a friend who no longer required them. The vintage sideboard also comes with family history – it once belonged to Lucy’s great grandfather.

The original plan was for the roof to be clad in plywood to match the kitchen. But they had to go to Plan B when it was inadvertently omitted from the consent process so Lucy opted to cover one wall of the expansive living/dining space in plywood to balance out the design.

That symmetry continues in the kitchen island, where the front of the island features the same plywood as the living/dining room wall. Both Lucy and Fran love to cook, so the generous work space and adjacent scullery mean they’re able to feed a crowd.

Pod living

Behind the kitchen is the media room, which is perfect for family movie nights. The third pod is the kids’ domain, containing Iggy and Frankie’s bedrooms, the music room and guest bathroom. An unused nook was converted into a homework space with two desks and can be closed off to hide clutter and school bags.

The music room at the far end of the space, which is equipped with a drum kit for Iggy, guitars for Fran and Frankie, and keyboards for Lucy, is a favourite with them all. “Every New Year’s Eve we have a talent show at our Coromandel bach with friends so we spend lots of time practising for that.”

The main bedroom, in the first pod, is Lucy and Fran’s sanctuary, with views over rolling hills and wandering livestock. Lucy sourced the striking wallpaper from UK company Hovia after falling in love with the wave-like imagery.

Dotted throughout the house are floating steel shelves from Made of Tomorrow, most of them crowded with the house plants Lucy loves.

Up next

Having moved into their home in late 2022 the couple have spent the past few months clearing banks and planting 1000 trees such as kōwhai, mānuka, pittosporum, akeake and lucerne to create privacy from the road. “We also want to add more of an entrance with a proper driveway.”

The family say their first attempt at building has turned out so much better than they could ever have imagined.

“We absolutely adore this house. It’s not just a roof over our heads, it’s like our own little haven where all our prized possessions and memories reside, making it the perfect definition of home. We don’t plan on moving anytime soon.”

Words by: Sharon Stephenson. Photography by: Helen Bankers

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