With a Scandi-look Christmas tree wall hanging, presents wrapped in brown paper and native foliage in vases, this Muriwai Beach home’s Christmas style is simple yet stylish
This Muriwai Beach home is all about laid-back Christmas style
When Dharlia and Ty Lynch returned from an extended OE in Margaret River, Western Australia, deciding where to settle was a no-brainer. Muriwai on Auckland’s west coast is where Ty grew up, as well as where he and Dharlia first met. With its famous surf beach, as well as a location and community vibe that suited them both personally and professionally, it was a match made in heaven.
“Muriwai is a pretty special place for us,” says Dharlia. “Ty grew up out here, I moved here 15 years ago, we met here 14 years ago and our son has lived here since he was born. We’ve hit the jackpot as far as our lifestyle goes, plus the community here is unreal. There are bush walks, a bike park, skate park, golf course and the beach, all just minutes from home.”
Serendipity played a hand in the Lynches’ journey to home ownership. While living in a rental, they watched as the Auckland property market escalated and even the most modest Muriwai baches quickly became unaffordable. But the township’s tight-knit community didn’t disappoint and it wasn’t long before the family found a solution within their reach. While out walking one morning, a casual chat with friends in the driveway led to an offer for Dharlia and Ty to purchase an 1800-metre section next door to the home they were renting.
“Funnily enough, we stored all our belongings in the owner’s shed next door years before, when we were living overseas,” remembers Dharlia. “I used to fantasise about building a house on the plot where our neighbours now live. It’s funny how things come full circle. We made a private offer to the owners in January 2015 and by March 2015 it was ours.”
Nearly two years of clearing invasive weeds followed, revealing groves of mature nikau, kanuka and ponga in the process, and allowing the couple to map out a building platform.
The idea of bringing a relocatable home to their site was ruled out early – a covenant protecting native trees on the property meant Dharlia and Ty were limited as to where they could build. Instead, they began researching building companies. Building a new home seemed daunting, especially with limited funds, but then the couple discovered Durapanel, a flatpack system which would enable them to design their own home and have it manufactured off-site.
“We designed all the aspects of the house ourselves, from the kitchen through to bathroom layouts and wardrobe design, and spent many nights doing cut-and-paste mock-ups of our home,” recalls Dharlia. “Durapanel took care of the concepts and building-consent drawings, which were included as part of the package.”
As luck would have it, the covenant was then lifted under the new Auckland Unitary Plan, meaning resource consent was no longer required, but by then the Lynches were happily committed to their home design.
Dharlia and Ty enlisted Nest Builders to bring their vision to life and the home quickly took shape on-site. The couple worked with Nest to outsource to local contractors, which was another cost-saving factor.
“Nest worked through the most horrendous winter on record and delivered a home we are so proud of, in record time,” says Dharlia. “Kris from Nest was also happy to hand over as much or as little of the outsourcing for subcontractors as we wanted. Apart from Durapanel, all our contractors and subcontractors were locals, whom we felt really good about supporting.”
Ready for living
The finished house is fresh, open and modern, with the white Durapanel system providing a clean canvas for the Lynches to add their personal stamp. Describing their home as a “mash-up of eras and styles”, Dharlia and Ty say their aesthetic is inspired by mid-century ranch homes but has a modern coastal twist that includes heaps of vintage furniture and local art.
“Just about all our furniture has either been inherited, gifted, found by the side of the road, upcycled or made by us. People have told us that for a new-build, our home has soul, which I think is due to the nature of our inherited goods. We like the fact that these things were made to last and we’re still enjoying them decades later,” says Dharlia.
Art is a major focus in the house and the couple have chosen some large pieces to create drama against the minimal white walls. “We love art and tend to go for large pieces imbued with colour. We’re lucky in that there’s a talented pool of local artists (and friends) out here and we have invested in or been gifted pieces by Catrina Lloyd and Matt Sinclair, and we also love Tanya Blong and Cherise Thomson.”
A casual Christmas
With the house completed in time for Christmas last year, the Lynches decided on a casual approach to festivities and invited family over to enjoy their new home.
“Last year we hosted our first Christmas in the house and it was really lovely,” remembers Dharlia. “Intimate but fun, with all the food served up on our island bench and then casual eating around the table. Ty’s mum makes a beautiful ham, and my mum and the rest of our family put together lots of fresh salads and some yummy desserts. I’m a sucker for pavlova, a berry fool or an Eton mess, so there’s definitely one of those on the cards.”
This year, the Lynch family are excited about continuing their new traditions. Weather permitting, they are planning a lazy beach afternoon at Muriwai, with hopefully a surf and a few family games.
“We plan on doing archery with a homemade target again,” says Dharlia. “We had a ball doing this with the whole family last year, followed by some hammock time in the sun. Ty and I always hope for a Christmas Day surf, too. We just love it if we don’t have to leave the beach!”
This year, Dharlia intends to move the dining table outside for an al fresco meal with the nikau providing a natural backdrop and all-important midday shade. Decorating is likely to remain minimal, with a focus on natural materials. Dharlia loves foraging for local flowers – hydrangeas are abundant in December in her area and provide a relaxed reminder of the warm summer days to come. Driftwood, linen, simple wrapping and a pared-back table setting will complete the picture and, since Dharlia and Ty are both allergic to pine, they’ll be thinking outside the square when it comes to a tree.
“Dusty and I decorate the tree together each year,” says Dharlia. “Last year we used a fake one, which I loathe, so this year we’ve got a cool printed banner from Pony Rider. We also love using linen bows and lovely wooden ornaments we inherited, plus a bit of tinsel and baubles for good measure.”
The home’s 145-square-metre floor area provides ample space for family gatherings, while the pitched ceilings and big windows create an organic sense of flow out onto 100 square metres of decking. Proving to be functional and warm during winter, the house has shown it’s well up to the challenge of life on the wild west coast, but summer is when this special home really comes into its own.
“The flow of our home works beautifully and we wouldn’t change a thing,” says Dharlia. “We love how sunny and private it is, as well as the wide wraparound deck and the gorgeous outlook of native trees and the abundant birdlife. It is a very calming space as it is so nestled in the bush. We love seeing our son and his friends playing outside while we socialise or make meals. It really is a house that’s all about family and community.”
Words and styling by: Tina Stephen. Photography by: Helen Bankers.