From run down to remarkable, this special Mt Maunganui home shows what’s possible with a bold vision — and hard work
Meet and Greet
John Price, 40 (works in landscaping and construction), Brydie Price, 38 (flight attendant), Miila, 17, and Spencer, 15, plus puppies Pedro and Chica.
If there’s one thing to take from hearing Brydie and John Price’s renovation story, it’s that this couple are not afraid of hard work. Their to-do list to turn their 1967 Mount Maunganui property into a dream home was eye-watering; and included making the house watertight, replacing the roof, sorting out the plumbing, electrics and gas, and repainting the entire exterior. And that was just one part – the landscaping was even more gruelling. But the mammoth job list didn’t faze this clever couple when they bought the four-bedroom, two-bathroom home in late 2015. In its original condition, it was far from a show home, but they saw past that and say it was love at first sight.
“There was no fencing or landscaping, the roof was paper-thin and rusted out, the driveway was all broken in the middle and slanted steeply,” Brydie recalls. “Basically, everywhere we looked pointed to hard work ahead. But the shape of the house was gorgeous and we fell in love with the tall ceilings, the split-level entryway and all the heart rimu.”
John agrees: “The original design of the house was so good, we loved the split level that would give us our own space but not make us feel too separate. And, of course, there was that big backyard. That was such a winner for us – it was a huge blank canvas.” In just four years, the couple used their creativity, vision and work ethic (and the help of a few family members and friends) to turn their run-down house into a completely unique family home.
From outside in
“Our plan for this house was to work from the outside in,” Brydie says. “We moved in at the start of December 2015 and knew we wanted to enjoy the summer outdoors. Our family turned up, tools in hand, and the main deck was built quickly, followed by the covered area.”
The couple put a lot of effort into their landscaping, a decision that has paid off, even if it wasn’t the easiest job on their list. The first steps were to install proper drainage and fix the driveway, which was on such a slant that it caused the bottom room of the house to flood whenever it rained.
“It was a big job,” John admits. “We had to lift the whole front yard by one metre using fill, and add mega soak pits. We formed the back garden with a truckload of boulders that were too heavy to lift and we had no access for vehicles. We had to use a pallet trolley to wheel them down the side of the house, one by one.”
The hard graft was worth it. Today, there are plenty of outdoor spaces the family can enjoy, rain or shine, including three decks, an outdoor bar and, the pièce de résistance, a covered entertaining area featuring a lounge, hot tub, fire pit and swinging hammock chairs, edged by a gorgeous tropical garden.
Beyond that is their backyard, with enough room for a game of volleyball as well as a flourishing vege patch, a super-productive glasshouse (a birthday gift to John from Brydie, complete with a disco ball) and an outdoor cinema screen.
“We use it at every party or to watch big rugby games. We recently had all the neighbours over to watch The Lion King movie – that was an awesome night,” John says.
There’s a feeling of warmth and individuality in the Prices’ home, and that’s due in part to their choice of materials. Wood, brick, glass, bamboo, ceramic, rattan, stone, marble and countless indoor plants all feature throughout.
“When John and I first met, we talked about our dream home being made from mostly raw materials, so that’s what we’ve tried to use,” Brydie says. “We’ve always loved the look of bricks, so we were excited to use them in this house, even though it was a bit of a mission. The ones we used are slices of real clay brick, so we had to hand-lay them like tiles and use mortar in a piping bag, which was extremely messy. We did this in the entryway, hall, kitchen-living and downstairs on the end walls and pillars.”
Bold choices are what set this home apart from so many others; for Brydie, the confidence to choose slightly unusual materials started with some sage advice.
“A good friend of mine once said, ‘If you truly love something, it will all work together.’ Styles and trends come and go, so we try not to follow them too much. We figure if it makes us happy, then it belongs in our home,” she says.
When it came to decorating the downstairs area, the couple wanted it to feel warm and cosy but also a little bit fun. They chose to use gaboon, an African hardwood, on the walls because of its warm, pinky tone. “It also fitted in with our goal to not have many white-painted walls,” John says.
A bespoke kitchen
Having both worked in hospitality, Brydie and John knew exactly the sort of functionality they needed from their kitchen. Their priorities were stainless-steel benchtops, a large sink and high-end cabinetry. With black vanities already installed in the bathrooms, they carried the theme of black cabinetry into the kitchen.
Avid entertainers, the couple needed heavy-duty storage – and lots of it. They devised a kitchen island with a ton of storage but, instead of having one specially built, they bought two tool trolleys and pop-riveted them together and had a macrocarpa bench made for the top.
Fitting in a dining area wasn’t so easy. Space was an issue, so the couple closed off a doorway and created a corner booth, building the wall-mounted seating and doing the upholstery themselves. They also built the adjacent floor-to-ceiling pipe shelving that serves as a pantry as well as looking good. “We’ve always stored our food in jars and, with such a high ceiling, it made sense to make that wall a functional feature,” Brydie explains.
Getting it done
The couple lived on-site throughout the renovation and insist it was no hardship. In fact, it was almost the opposite. “John built a concrete sink outside, so we created the coolest kitchen set-up under the roofed area,” Brydie says. “It was so cool it made us wonder if we needed an indoor kitchen!”
Aside from the plumbing, electrics and tiling, they did everything themselves, with help from family and friends. “Our extended family and friends have all made a massive contribution to renovating this house,” Brydie says. “John’s brother, MJ, and his wife, Emma, have spent so much time here brainstorming, drinking, demolishing, drinking, building and… drinking. Our nieces and nephews did the hard yards, too. Every day we are grateful to them for helping us.”
Don’t buy – diy
Brydie and John were committed to recycling materials wherever they could. John made the dining table from rimu wall-framing saved during the demolition process. Old jarrah telephone poles left by the previous owners were used in the landscaping. The posts for the roofed outdoor area came from the dismantled Portland Cement wharf in Whangārei.
Much of the decor is also pre-loved, found at op-shops by an eagle-eyed Brydie. “As a flight attendant, I’d spend my downtime scouring the op-shops for treasure. I could tell you where all the best op-shops are in every town in New Zealand – but I won’t,” she laughs.
Brydie is “obsessed” with macramé and made all but one of the gorgeous pieces in the house, including the chandelier that hangs in the entryway. She also crafts headboards and lights to sell.
A home to share
“Throughout the renovation, John and I would sit up late, drinking wine outside and coming up with ideas,” Brydie says. “We both have the same style and vision so we didn’t disagree on anything when it came to this renovation. We just keep talking until an idea is created and it’s so awesome to see them come to life.”
The couple have no plans to move, but will soon share the home with loved ones and other families – they’re going to put it on Airbnb while they are off camping and caravaning so more people can enjoy their slice of paradise. “One summer, we had 25 family and friends stay for two weeks,” Brydie says. “We’d all been to Rarotonga together so we thought it would be funny to recreate a Pacific resort. John carved a canoe to eat our buffets out of, we printed gazettes each morning for our guests, listened to island music and the kids made us cocktails. It was so much fun. We love making memories in our home.”
Words by: Debbie Harrison. Photography by: Alice Veysey