A former bach had the right flow for modern family life, while the coastal location and backyard sealed the deal
Meet & greet
Ilze (head consultant and director at The Tile Room) and Ethan Leggett (director of Cutting Edge Tiling NZ), Travis, six, Mia, four, and Zeus the huntaway-staffy cross.
Four-bedroom, three-bathroom ’80s-style former bach in Stanmore Bay, Auckland.
No words were required. Once Ilze and Ethan Leggett stepped inside the Whangaparāoa Peninsula house with sea views, they looked at each other and instantly knew. They’d hit the jackpot – this was the house they had been searching for.
The couple, who have two young children, had already missed out on a number of homes and had just about given up hunting when, soon after the first lockdown in 2020, they found the former bach at Stanmore Bay. Within the hour they’d put in an offer for the 174sqm house, and the next day the deal was sealed – before it had hit the market.
“The coastal location stole our hearts,” explains Ilze. But there was much more about the 80s-style home on a 817sqm section that appealed. It had four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a double garage, study, a good-sized backyard – and that dreamy big blue outlook.
It matched up in other ways, too. “We had quite a lot of boxes to tick because we were searching for that ‘family’ home,” she adds.
First up, the bedrooms and living area were all on one level and close together, something the couple didn’t have in their previous home. The backyard was another plus. “We didn’t expect to find anything with such a big space for the kids to play and grow up.”
They could move in without having to do a thing as previous owners had carried out a good deal of the work and “with a baby and a three-year-old this was extremely appealing. We kept all the layouts the same, because why change something if it works, right? It had flow, it just needed our stamp put on it to make our house feel like our home.”
It didn’t take long for the couple, experts in tiles and tiling, to get cracking on their renovation. One of their good friends Zane Dykman from Ze Build came around, and together they formulated a plan. In previous renovations they’d attempted “small jobs here and there”, but this time, Ilze says, “We knew we needed the big guns to do it once and do it right.”
The couple decided to split the project into stages to accommodate the budget and family life. They tackled the backyard over 2020 and 2021, followed by the interior last year.
“We only stayed within budget because towards the end we decided to pull some things from our original plan to make it work,” Ilze says. “The inside renovations had to be on a tight schedule because we remained living in the downstairs part of our home.”
The couple’s additions included a new splashback, shelves and slider window in the kitchen, renovations of the bathrooms, new interior paint, feature walls and a laundry that opens to an outside bar. The entire backyard was revamped with planting, a fence, gate, lawn, deck, pergola and spa pool.
Ilze and Ethan faced a dilemma during the planning phase. They had a modest-sized main bathroom, but were keen on adding a shower and a bath. “We wanted something a little more luxurious. I stood inside the bath one night, while Ethan was trying to work out the layout, and we decided then and there to tile it. We felt it ticked our brief of wanting a tiled shower but not losing the bath.”
It was the right decision and adds a feeling of luxury. “It’s like having a wellness hub at home – there’s something about sitting in it that just feels like bliss.”
This part of the project was a prime opportunity for the couple to apply all their expertise, knowledge and passion to their own home and showcase their work. “We’re big advocates for tiles given what we both do for a living, and future-proofing was a must for us. So fully tiled bathrooms it was.”
Ilze chose travertine-look tiles because texture was a linchpin of her design. “It’s definitely the best place to start. Tiles set the tone for your entire bathroom and they make up the majority of the space, so getting this right is kind of crucial.”
The kitchen layout remained the same, but the couple enhanced the space by changing the tiles in the splashback and adding shelves. “It’s incredible seeing the difference tiles can make
in a space.”
Sea for miles
In keeping with the house’s location with sea views across to Tindalls and Manly beaches, the decor was designed around a modern coastal aesthetic incorporating texture and colours from nature.
“Colour was a huge driver for me when I began working on our room designs – the fun part,” explains Ilze. “I have a studio filled with amazing tiles so you can only imagine how exciting this was.
“We wanted a calm feeling across the whole house so I took a lot of time selecting the perfect tones to achieve this. We chose soft hues to help the mood. My expertise with tiles helped me to appreciate colour and its use in the design world.”
One of her favourite pieces of art hangs in the dining room. “I think it’s because the textures and tones have a fun feel to them. It’s like this warm fuzzy feeling of sunshine and happiness.
“My other favourite is the beautiful pencil sketch my great grandmother did many decades ago, a piece that has stayed in the family for many years. It hangs next to my bedside table.”
Her favourite rooms are, without doubt, the bathrooms. “I work with the most gorgeous tiles every day and I was able to use these in our home and create our perfect designs. I love that we could be especially creative with the bath,” she says. “Without Ethan’s knowledge we could not have pulled it off. It’s about having an idea but ensuring it can be done.”
The children chose their own wallpaper for their bedrooms. “Travis opted for a jungle vibe, while Mia couldn’t look past the peachy pink flowers. I love how these work with everything else we’ve done.”
The couple’s outdoor kitchen and bar is another favourite place. Having a space to gather friends and family with ease – and without having to use their main kitchen – is a real bonus.
The backyard, she says, was disconnected from the house when they moved in, so linking the two was important. The outdoor kitchen, plus a new staircase that links the wraparound top deck to the backyard, do the trick. The couple also have a laundry/bar area out the back and Ilze is also keen to do more gardening and grow her own fruit and vegetables in the future.
There’s a lot to look forward to in a family house that enjoys beach access just across the road and top-notch vistas. “The sea view and beach access stole our hearts – and the fact we overlook no houses, just pōhutukawa and the ocean.”
This is probably a long-term home for the Leggetts, if not a forever one. “We plan on staying here for a while,” says Ilze. “In saying that, we’re busy bods and we’re always up for new challenges and growth so I don’t know, maybe the goal is to build one day.”
Words by: Fiona Barber. Photography by: Babiche Martens