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This Wellington new-build imbues Japandi Chic

Article by Your Home and Garden by Holly Jean Brooker

Modern Scandi hygge meets an elegant Japanese design aesthetic in a double pavilion new-build in Wellington

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Meet & greet

Katie Bell (cognitive conditioning coach), her partner, their golden retriever Boy, Lilo the Burmese cat and Indie the Burmilla cat.

The property

Three-bedroom, two-bathroom, double pavilion-style new-build in Wellington.

When Katie Bell found some land 20 minutes drive north of central Wellington, she hoped to build a Japandi style home. She and her partner had just moved back to the North Island, after living in Dunedin on a 2000sqm site to this smaller 600sqm one, and knew they had to be smart about the compact size of the section and subsequent house design in comparison to their previous house.

Planning and design

Katie wanted the house to be simple, modern, uncluttered, and designed to accommodate their family pets: a golden retriever, Boy, and two cats, Lilo and Indie. 

“I had started making lists of all the products I wanted to use before we had locked in the build, so I could get pricing confirmed early on,” says Katie, who started her Project Collective Instagram account to document the build. “I had a clear vision and a lot of my colour choices and materials were based around our pets to ensure our home suited them too.”

Because the section was wide, but not very deep, they needed to be strategic to ensure the home fit the land well, while achieving their wish of double pavilions that could capture all-day sun in the main living areas of the home. The new home was designed with one pavilion incorporating the living, dining and kitchen with the second pavilion dedicated to the rest of the home, including three bedrooms. 

At 210sqm, the house is the perfect size for the couple. Katie also heeded her mother’s mantra of “the bigger the house, the more you have to clean”.

The white fleece Floof chair in the living room is from Kindred Road and the woollen rug is by Nodi.

Open living

The open-plan living is light, bright and spacious with clean, straight lines, soft tones and some fun touches. The openness and drama of this space owes much to the 20-degree pitched ceiling and sliding doors on both sides of the living space for indoor-outdoor flow to the back deck and the front patio. The couple also opted for hard-wearing Quick-Step Impressive Laminate, in White Varnished Oak flooring, which is waterproof, scratch-resistant and cheaper than timber. 

Katie worked with Mastercraft Kitchens to create a timeless kitchen, complete with a walk-in butler’s pantry. The benchtop and splashback is a sintered surface made from crushed stone, glass and porcelain, and is hard-wearing. The cabinetry is Possum Pearl Melteca by Laminex. 

“It was outside of my comfort zone designing a sage-coloured kitchen,” Katie says, admitting if she’d known how big the colour is now, might not have chosen it. “That’s not to say I’m not completely in love with it, and how beautifully calm it is within the rest of the space.”

Integrating all the kitchen appliances was also an intention, but the cost was too prohibitive, so they opted for the elegance of black Fisher & Paykel appliances. She also downgraded from two ovens to one because “apparently I didn’t use the two we had in our previous build”.

The dining table is from Freedom and the dining chairs are from Nood. The linen and rattan pendant light is a Wabi design and the Sakura Mist original painting is by Maiko Nagao.


For minimalist Katie, creating a clutter-free, relaxed main bedroom was essential, hence the neutral colour palette with natural textures and fabrics to ensure a calm environment. “I’m into having a minimal capsule wardrobe so I designed a small walk-in wardrobe to ensure I stick to this ethos,” she says. The wool carpet is Bremworth Samurai, Hada. For continuity, the ensuite matches the main bathroom.


The outdoor space was where the couple spent hours building fences and decks, staining fences, laying out grass and planting gardens. “We did it all ourselves within the first six months of being in our home. The landscaping was probably fast-tracked a little by the impending arrival of our golden retriever, three months after moving in.”

The decks are a generous 100sqm – half the size of the house – to create ample outdoor living and they’re protected by the plantings they did to shield them from Wellington’s famous wind. Retaining walls were used behind the house, with lawn space for Boy to play ball, and a concreted space for vegetable pods and a garden shed. 

The Neolith benchtop and splashback in Calacatta Silk is an engineered sintered stone, which is durable and heat resistant. The cabinetry is sage-coloured Possum Pearl Melteca by Laminex and the oak bar stools are from Dawson & Co.


Katie was in her element styling the finished house. “I’m a real sucker for Japandi style. It blends the smooth, modern lines of Scandinavian design with the sleek, functional elegance of the Japanese aesthetic. It is minimalist yet welcoming and is all about using neutral tones, lots of textures and natural materials. To me, my home is somewhere I feel at peace, so this concept fits well.” 

Three years on it’s easy to forget the ups and downs of building. “I think anyone who’s been through a house build or reno can appreciate the amount of emotional, physical and financial stress involved but I believe all of those stresses have paid off with our end product. There’s so much we love about our home and I don’t think I could list it all, from the street appeal, right through to the efficient use of every square metre throughout our landscaping I think we have executed this build perfectly.” 

Outdoor space is maximised with sheltered decks, which are protected by plantings and retaining walls at the back.

Home truths

Any splurges?
I kind of have expensive tastes. If you spend money on quality items, not only will they last but they will be exactly what you want and there will be no need to replace anything in the future. One upgrade that stood out for me was our tapware – let’s just say I downgraded my car to get those taps.

What about savings?
We definitely saved money on the landscaping and by building the deck ourselves.

What would you never do again?
Project manage the build ourselves. We’d prefer to work directly with subcontractors.

Any DIY disasters?
Originally there were no tiles above the bathroom, but the holes made for our tapware were too big, so instead of re-Gibbing the whole wall, I decided to tile above the vanities. I’m happy with how they look, but it wouldn’t have been my first choice.

Anything you’d change?
White tiles and grout in the bathrooms. They’re a nightmare to keep clean.

Memorable moments?
I came home from work to find cat paw prints down the newly poured concrete, which runs the length of the house. Luckily, the paw prints disappeared once the acid wash was put over it the next day.


Text: Holly Jean Brooker  Photography: Anna Briggs

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