Home Tours

Take a look at this coastal home in New Plymouth

Much-loved travel mementos find new life at a coastal home in New Plymouth

Meet & greet
Delwyn McCurdy (real estate consultant) and Craig Hooper (truck repairs) and their two dogs, Ted and Oscar, and Marley the cat.

For Delwyn McCurdy and Craig Hooper, it didn’t matter what their next house looked like, it mattered where it was located. The couple, having raised their now-grown children on a sprawling lifestyle block, wanted the convenience and comfort of living in New Plymouth for their next stage of life. “We wanted a smaller section with minimal lawns to mow, but I really wanted it to be by the beach,” says Delwyn.

They set their sights on the popular coastal suburb of Fitzroy, but having already missed out on three houses in the beachside community, Delwyn and Craig moved fast on the next newly listed property.

“We didn’t care what the house looked like, we just wanted the land. It was all about being in the right location and the right position,” Delwyn says. In fact, her first viewing of the sunshine yellow, two-bedroom bach wasn’t until after purchase. “We said we’d live in it for six months to decide what we wanted to do, like knock down or renovate, but I had the architectural designer in two weeks later,” she laughs. That was 14 years ago, and the pair are now proud owners of a contemporary oasis, minutes away from the call of the ocean.

Tranquillity calls
One of Delwyn and Craig’s renovation necessities was a main bedroom away from the hustle and bustle of the house. A step-down into the space was created for both physical and mental separation, producing a private sanctuary that overlooks the picturesque courtyard.

The guest bedroom radiates the same sense of calm and is painted in Resene Karen Walker blues for added depth. “Out the front, the garden is a bit like a jungle so it’s important to have that tranquillity in the bedrooms,” Delwyn notes. Creamy linens from Bianca Lorenne adorn the bed – a “must-have” since the kids have left home.

While the urge to build anew was tempting, the couple fell in love with the stunning structural elements of the original house, opting to extend the art-deco abode seamlessly into the new millennium. The ornate ceilings and original floorboards still remain, pops of history sitting alongside the sleek modern touches.

The bathroom is wallpapered in a playful pattern of fish darting amongst coral, a surprisingly moody note for the coastal abode. Delwyn says she wanted something that “when you’re busy and have a quite stressful job, it’s nice to come home and instantly feel relaxed. Home should be somewhere that comforts you, so I like the darker colours for that reason.”

The house is now centred around the generous, intimate courtyard, with some of the plantings taking years to establish. A few well-placed queen palms lend much-needed shelter and privacy, creating a pocket of serenity in the family home. “It’s a very modest house from the front, but once you come in it opens right up, like a hidden sanctuary. People walk in and it just envelops you,” Delwyn says.

The pair love to entertain and host potluck family dinners, so the indoor-outdoor flow on the deck was essential. Wooden chairs are playfully scattered around a fire pit, acquired from Koko Classics.

Living well
Large, floor-length sliding doors greet visitors from the courtyard, ushering them into the sunny living room. Grasscloth wallpaper, from Plantation Design, is an instant focal point of the space, providing tropical texture to the surrounding white walls.

There’s a world of stories to be found among the tabletops, from carrying leather Sardinian masks through flash floods in Rome, to packing Jemez pottery in socks and underwear. Most are displayed on what appears to be an ordinary wall unit at first glance, until the eye reveals it to be an old Egyptian door propped on oak table legs. A wooden propellor gifted to Craig’s grandfather for his service in the war leans in a corner, with avid discussions about the piece one day becoming a light fixture. Lovingly hung among family portraits sits a framed 1800s photograph of an unknown gentleman, picked up from a seaside market. He’s referred to as “Great Uncle Festus” with a wink to enquiring guests. The living room is a constant curiosity shop – a delight in every glance, a memory in every step.

“I’m a vegetarian and I don’t eat meat, but I love animal hides,” Delwyn laughs. These soft furnishings drape luxuriously over the chairs, including an iconic secondhand Paul Frankl cane chair. “You should have seen the look on my husband’s face when I came home with that.”

The living room flows to the modern monochrome kitchen, the nucleus of daily life. A thick wooden benchtop was encouraged by the couple’s love of chunky, natural products “because wood never dates”. With the exception of the herringbone splashback, which has changed three times, much of the space has remained the same since the renovation. “The kitchen is the hub of the home, so when we have parties, a lot of people comment that they feel like they’re on holiday or that they’ve escaped somewhere.”

A collector’s paradise
Delwyn is the first to admit she isn’t a follower of trends. “I like to think that all my treasured items, no matter what size and how insignificant they are, tell a story that has a meaning or invokes a certain feeling,” she admits. “I wouldn’t just go out and buy a couch, I would rather have no couch until I find the right one or the right one finds me.” The result is a collection of repurposed and op-shopped treasures from all corners of the globe, thanks to Delwyn and Craig’s many travel adventures. Her foraging started out with shells from beaches in the islands, but once the kids were independent, the dynamic duo went on weeks-long motorcycle tours of the US, Canada and Italy, where Delwyn would put small treasures in the side saddlebag of her bike. “What some people might consider rubbish, I deem as decor.”

The real estate agent’s best home hack stems from her love for cushions. “Go to a couple of op-shops and look for feather inners, which you can often pick up for around a dollar,” advises Delwyn. “Don’t look at the cover of the cushion, you can swap them out for nicer covers.” She loves to change these soft furnishings, even lending some to clients.

While cushions come and go, the house has remained largely the same over the years thanks to the classic design choices. There’s some small work to be done to lower the front gate to improve kerb appeal, but for the most part Delwyn and Craig are content with their coastal oasis. “As a family, we had moved five times before planting ourselves here,” they say. A move is always possible in the future, but the pair plan to never sell this home due to its blissful seaside location. “It’s nice to be settled and now feel at home.”

Words by: Caroline Moratti. Photography by: Gina Fabish.

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