When a Nelson couple nabbed their dream hillside site, they needed a house that would live up to the lofty views
meet & greet
Chris (commercial construction quantity surveyor) and Dawn Cooper (human resources manager), and Siamese cats Gismo and Nutmeg.
A three-bedroom schist and cedar new build on a hilltop site with expansive views.
When a hilltop section in their Nelson subdivision became available, Chris and Dawn Cooper were ready for it.
They’d been living at the bottom of a valley, and though the spot was sheltered and sunny, it had no view. The outlook from the hill, in comparison, spanned mountains and sea.
“We knew the neighbourhood suited us,” Chris says. “It’s leafy and green with mature planting and houses built in amongst tall trees. The subdivision’s development plan included the hilltop area – we’d had our eyes on the top of the hill for years and had picked a section and eventually it became available.”
In 2021, the hilltop became home base and the Coopers couldn’t be happier.
The house plan
Chris and Dawn opted for a Mike Greer Homes house and land package. They went for the show-home plan at the time, with adaptations, and liked the fact they could physically walk through the prototype, determining what was just right and what they’d like to alter.
The house was enlarged and modified to suit the site, and the cladding was changed – the main body of the house is dressed in schist and cedar, with plaster on the other areas. Storage space was added, the ceiling stud and internal door heights raised, and an exterior door installed between the ensuite and the spa.
“Our builder came up with the ensuite exterior door idea. It may seem unusual but it works perfectly, offering us easy access to the spa,” says Chris. The positioning of the spa was a no-brainer, not only because of proximity to the main bedroom, but also the commanding views from that spot.
The Coopers’ house has three bedrooms and two living areas and includes a large covered deck and a fernery. It has been built to maximise the views, so much so that about 100sqm of wall space is glass, enabling Chris and Dawn to admire the outlook from their hilltop site as well as appreciate their fernery. The glass means the entire living zone can be opened up via stackers and bifold doors.
“Our section drops down, and our view has been described as an ‘infinity’ outlook,” says Chris. The vista takes in the nearby Richmond Ranges, the peninsula subdivision of Monaco, Rabbit Island, the Abel Tasman National Park and plenty of ocean blue.
The abundance of glass means there aren’t many places to hang art, but the panorama more than compensates. “And the sunsets are art,” Dawn says.
Chris and Dawn say there were three givens when it came to the interior design. It could not look like a “typical new-build house with a neutral approach to decor”, it needed to exude a sense of luxury, and the skills of an interior designer would be called upon.
The Coopers had hired Kim Forkert of Parkhurst Design in the past, and she was an obvious port of call. “We said to her, ‘What would you do?’” says Chris.
Kim applied her know-how to many aspects of the build, such as the colour schemes, items to lift the finish of the home, and furnishing advice. All liaison between Kim, who is based in the Waikato, and the Coopers was done remotely – via phone and email – and they say they could never have pulled it off without her.
Wallpaper was used to particularly good advantage. The spine of the house includes a 10m wall that became a striking feature thanks to the bug wallpaper chosen for it.
“It’s polarising, but we definitely wanted to run with it,” says Dawn. “The bugs live by the fernery and bring the outdoors in. It’s especially cool when looking at the wallpaper from the outside through the fernery. Friends with young children thought the bug wallpaper was a brave choice as they may feel the urge to go and draw on it. We’re happy to say that hasn’t happened.”
The entomology-themed wallpaper also served the purpose of determining the home’s colour palette. The kitchen’s olive glass splashback tiles nearby are a case in point, as is the upholstery’s autumnal hue.
As for the main bedroom, knowing the Coopers were keen for a sense of luxury, Kim selected striking green Royal Garden wallpaper by European company Mind the Gap for the feature wall. It features birds, which ties in with the natural-world focus of the bug wallpaper.
Adding the luxe
The Coopers have found wallpaper does an excellent job of providing a sense of luxury. “We feel as if our bedroom has a boutique, luxury accommodation ambience, thanks to the wallpaper and its matching bed linen and lush drapes,” Chris says.
The gold leaf finish on the ensuite and bathroom mirrors also adds a sense of luxury, as does the leather finish surrounding the cloakroom mirror.
“Add to all that the fact we have a door from the ensuite out to the spa, offering a wonderful sense of being on holiday when we’re at home,” Chris says. “We’ve brought some of the luxury travel experience into our beautiful home.”
Words by: Monique Balvert-O’Connor. Photography: Daniel Allen