A Bay of Plenty couple spurned big and flashy in favour of stripped back and simple for their charming beachfront house
Meet & greet:
Mike and Laura Bryant (co-owners of Barrett Homes), Maddie, seven, Beaudie, five, and cats Blue and Little.
Mike and Laura Bryant didn’t have to look far for builders to construct their home, given they own a house-building company. Creating bespoke homes to suit clients’ needs is all part of the service.
The couple knew what they did and didn’t want for their beachfront site in the Bay of Plenty’s Papamoa. For example, they didn’t want anything ostentatious.
“I wanted our home to be modest, like a bach,” says Laura. “I didn’t want the typical big house on the beach, so we kept it super simple inside. It’s really about the view and the different spaces we have created for our family and friends to enjoy.”
What they also needed was a home created to the specifications of a removable build, she says.
“We thought that if we built it this way, with a floating floor, then instead of one day knocking it down or adding to it, we could remove it from the site and replace it with something else.
“Having said that, now it’s finished, we love it 100 percent as it is, and it isn’t going anywhere.”
Embracing the bach
Only the green expanse of a reserve separates the Bryants’ new home from the shore. The site was previously home to a bach, which the family had owned for six years.
“It had wooden interior walls and I wanted to keep that vibe,” says Laura. Which is why the ceilings of their new home are made of plywood (with a clear coat of polyurethane) and the walls are grooved ply. Laminate wood flooring was selected for the main living area and hallway, with tiles in the bathroom and carpet in the bedrooms.
“The exterior of the house features black-painted timber, with cedar features. If you were to take everything out of this house it’s a wooden box, in the nicest way.”
The wood, Laura adds, suits her love of a natural decor.
Their house, which they moved into during winter 2020, isn’t super-sized – spanning 140sqm plus a garage – and the design isn’t complex. A central hallway feeds three bedrooms, an office, bathroom and a laundry, which is hidden behind a hallway cavity slider.
The double garage, which was added later on, is at one end of the hall, while at the other, a white barn door divides off the open-plan, kitchen, dining and living area with its plywood walls and ceiling. An alfresco portico beyond, accessed by triple stacker doors, adds to the living area and offers beautiful backyard and ocean views.
“We kept the house super simple so the outside could speak for itself. The view is what we need,” says Laura.
While the property is only a pipi toss from the ocean, the Bryants’ home includes a swimming pool and spacious pool house alongside.
There’s also plenty more that’s appealing – namely a sauna, spa, outdoor showers (one by the pool and one at the bottom of the property for easy access after coming from the beach), a bunk room and storage area.
The pool room has a significant role to play during the warmer months. With a full kitchen that has a pizza oven, dining table and lounging area, it’s “incredibly well utilised” over summer, Mike says. Waterproof clear drop-down blinds open up the wall facing the pool, so the view isn’t obstructed.
“In summer it’s our home. We live out there. Part of our bespoke design was to create separate zones that can be shut off, rather than having all of this in the house,” he explains.
Laura says they’ve ensured their home has details that specifically suit how they like to live.
“It’s certainly been built with good feels in mind.”
Keeping it natural
Dressing her new home was fun and wonderfully easy, says Laura, who feels no compunction to add bright pops of colour.
Her chosen decor celebrates natural hues (the timber and bed linen, for example), plants and rattan accessories such as the lounge table and lampshades.
In the main living area, black venetians and roller blinds blend with the black joinery, while the white barn door and benchtop provide splashes of light in the black kitchen zone. The bathrooms also sport white walls of painted ply.
If the objective of this house was laid-back, low-key flexible and lovely, then mission accomplished.
Words by: Monique Balvert-O’Connor. Photography by: Alice Veysey.