Turning their bach into their permanent home means the holiday vibes don’t stop for this family. See how they redesigned the house to chase the sun and warmth
It’s not uncommon to be on holiday and remark, “If only I could live like this every day.” Reuben and Amy Nicklin said the same thing about being at their Foxton Beach bach – and then they made it a reality.
They bought the bach – which was just a half-hour drive from their then-home in Palmerston North – in 2016. The search for the perfect getaway spot had taken years, but when they finally found it they realised the possibilities were huge.
“We saw this place but thought it would be way out of our price range,” Amy says. “It was advertised as five bedrooms, two bathrooms, but we checked it out anyway. It turned out that it was two separate dwellings: a three-bedroom and a two-bedroom which was tenanted with an income. We couldn’t believe it.”
The couple drove out every Sunday to every open home to check on interest and eye up the competition. They ended up being the only people at the auction. “It was just before the market took off; it was the best timing in the world,” Amy says.
For months afterwards, the family would pack their bags and head off to the bach for the weekend, driving home on Sunday night or Monday morning. “It eventually got to the point where we wondered why we didn’t just move out here full time,” says Reuben. “We both work from home so we didn’t have that holding us back.”
Initially they planned to renovate the three-bedroom bach but the builders and architect advised against it. “They said it was a big job and we’d be going so far back to come forward,” Reuben says. “They recommended we just demolish it and start with a clean slate. So we kept the original foundation and added on a few little pockets for extra space.”
“We’d already lived with the layout for a year so we knew where the sun was and how each room worked and the eco footprint and how to utilise the rooms correctly,” Amy adds. Having lived in cold, draughty houses before, the couple were determined to create a home that was toasty year-round. “We basically designed the home to chase the sun and warmth.”
Two areas the couple earmarked for a bold statement look were the bathrooms. “We wanted to create two totally different spaces and I’m stoked with the result,” says Reuben.
The main bathroom has a more feminine vibe with light grey tiles, a blond oak vanity and white mermaid tiles in a long niche running all the way above the bath and into the shower. The couple chose brushed gold tapware and edging to add a touch of class to the room.
Despite being reluctant at first to have an ensuite (“We don’t use it at all!”), Reuben and Amy were excited about designing it because they knew they could take some risks and do something a bit different.
With the moody green wall and forest-like ensuite, it feels like a hotel room
“We fell in love with Alex and Corban’s room makeover [on The Block NZ] where they used dark greens and mustard, and decided to use that as our inspiration,” Reuben explains. “We knew it was the right thing to do because we got butterflies when we thought about it.
“Now it’s like stepping into a forest, with its dark grey tiles from floor to ceiling and black geometric tiles in the niche. We used matte black tapware to get even moodier and had a Michel Cesar Moode vanity custom-painted in Resene Seaweed to complete the look. We then pulled that dark green through into the master, with our feature wall.”
Amy says their master bedroom is their sanctuary. The dark green creates a relaxing, cosy vibe, making it an easy place to curl up and chill out. “It’s a lovely natural colour, the colour of leaves,” says Amy. “It was a bit of a risky choice but an easy one because we could always repaint if we didn’t like it. Thankfully, we love it – with the moody green wall and forest-like ensuite, it feels like a hotel room.”
Videographer Reuben had one must-have for the build: a ‘butler’s office’, set off the kitchen. “In our previous house – with four bedrooms and a big office – I’d still gravitate to the lounge and dining table to do my editing every night,” he says. “Being out here with the family makes sense.” To keep the office clutter at a minimum, they made the entire back wall a storage space. “All my gear, our camera gear, papers – it’s your usual messy workspace but it’s all behind closed doors. That space works perfectly.”
Bang for buck
Amy, who was pregnant with their third child, Louie, during the build, spent a lot of late nights looking online for the best deals possible. She snagged their statement wooden chandelier from online shop Williams Road for a fraction of what the designer version cost. She scored the white tap for the kitchen from AliExpress for $100, but the brushed gold tapware for the main bathroom was the biggest score. “I found an Aussie supplier and managed to get it all from them – even with Customs, it ended up being a quarter of the price,” she says.
“This will probably be our forever home,” says Amy. “Both sets of parents are in Palmerston North so it’s easy to get a babysitter when we go to shoot weddings. The most important factor for us is to be with family; having our children near their grandparents is number one.”
They may not be selling but change is afoot. The couple have just finished renovating the two-bedroom flat next door, turning it into a cool little coffee shop and gallery called L’arte, displaying some of Reuben’s work. “Being creatives, I guess it’s in both of us to conceive and create beautiful things,” he says. “So this won’t be the last place we dream up.”
Words by: Debbie Harrison. Photography by: Nicola Edmonds.