When a couple of empty nesters decided to downsize, it was a chance to design and build exactly what they wanted
Meet & greet
Kim (database administrator) and Neil Ford (programme manager for a large engineering company) and cavoodle Otten Ford.
1 The Design
After Kim and Neil Ford’s three children left home – one lives in London and two are flatting, the couple agreed it was time to downsize. They had a strong vision of what they wanted and engaged architect Michael Cooper to design a house purpose-built to their specs on the Hobsonville site they bought. It had to be open plan, have high ceilings, a covered patio and underfloor heating to warm up the concrete flooring, as well as an industrial-style staircase in their 238sqm home, 55sqm of which has rental potential possibly for their elderly parents, children, or as an income source. They also wanted somewhere they could “have their music blaring, doors open, drink lots of wine and have lots of family round”.
2 The Materials
The Fords like industrial materials and wanted to incorporate some of those into the house. “We loved the straight line of Stria Cladding by James Hardie,” says Kim. “It’s basically boxes on top of boxes. It’s also very durable and we could paint it dark. A lot of cladding products don’t allow you to paint it black, but you can with Stria Cladding and it looks really modern.”
The black exterior works well with the concrete floors, industrial-looking staircase and is a perfect foil for the brick work used both inside and out.
3 The Interior
Having an open-plan living space was important to Kim and they were committed to some industrial elements without going brutalist. “It allows me to cook and chat to our family and friends at the same time.”
The Fords splurged on heating under their polished concrete floors, as well as the steel and concrete staircase, ceiling-to-floor tiled bathrooms and interior brickwork. “My favourite time of the day is in the evening when we have the downlights on the bricks, which form lots of patterns on the walls, and we have candles going and a glass of wine. “I’m really proud when people say, ‘Wow, it feels so homely’.”
4 The Outdoors
The bush outlook was part of the initial draw for Kim and Neil, as was having a covered outdoor area. “Our last build didn’t have a covered patio, so we knew this time round we wanted something we could sit under to shelter from the weather and the sun.” They created an outdoor area of two parts – a dining space and a section completely given over to relaxation. “We often put a screen up to make it a bit cosier and provide privacy from the next-door neighbours.” They intend living here for another three years before they decide if they sell and downsize further into an apartment.
For now though, they’re happy to stay put.
Photography by: Swell Productions