The next chapter

A couple ushers in a new phase of life with a move closer to town and into a tailor-made home.

When their three adult children had all left home, rather than brood about their empty nest, Nicky and Mark van der Poel decided it was the perfect time to make a change. Their plan was to move off their coastal dairy farm where they’d lived for 26 years and buy a home to renovate.
Their preferred location was the picturesque seaside settlement of Oakura, 10 minutes from New Plymouth. “It has a lovely atmosphere and nice cafés,” says Nicky. “Each time we went to New Plymouth, we’d drive through the village and visualise living there.”
Unfortunately, when it came to finding a suitable new home, their search drew a blank, forcing them to expand their horizons. They realised the solution was a 2600m2 sloping section near the sea in Oakura, which they’d first seen two years before.

ABOVE Nicky in her new garden, just past the home’s entrance, where a laser-cut aluminum screen helps to guide visitors to the front door.

Making the purchase in 2013, with a new build now on the cards, the couple took their ideas to architect Tony Biesiek of Imagine Building Design. Their brief: an understated yet unique home where visiting family and friends wouldn’t have to fuss about taking their shoes off. Other must-haves included a high stud, polished concrete floors, indoor-outdoor flow, a large garage and two driveways connecting the home’s two levels.
The resulting dwelling constructed by Hofmans Builders is sleek and sophisticated, with multiple sheltered outdoor living areas and a creatively landscaped garden tying it all together. The split-level home’s white Rockcote and honed concrete block exterior gives it a fresh, contemporary feel.
The sloping section had its moments during construction. “Once it was excavated, it seemed much steeper, which caused a few engineering challenges,” says Nicky. “But the upside now is the bird’s-eye view we have of our terraced garden.”

TOP Décor highlights in the main living area include an IO Drum pendant light by Mat Macmillan of Maker, and an artwork by Michele Bryant from The Poi Room. Louvre windows allow for ventilation and a seamless view of the garden through the adjacent pane. ABOVE A louvre system above the outdoor dining table ensures this space is functional all year round. The decking here is Vitex.

Interior designer Megan Ekdahl provided guidance on everything from paint colours, to tiles, to carpet, with Annika Rowson of Rowson Kitchens brought in for the kitchen, bathrooms and laundry. Annika’s kitchen design went on to become a winner in the National Kitchen and Bathroom Association’s 2016 Excellence in Design awards and is a hit with Nicky too, who especially likes the walk-through scullery.
The keruing plywood featured in the kitchen also appears in the master bedroom. In fact, the scheme of timber, concrete and matte black accents has been repeated throughout the home to great effect. The extra-height ceiling creates a lovely sense of spaciousness – and Nicky enjoys seeing first-time visitors’ surprise as their gaze turns upwards when they enter.

TOP The rangehood and vents in the matte black and white, Corian and plywood kitchen were powder-coated to match the cabinetry. Nicky says the furniture from their previous home “just seemed to fit in” – though a few new items have been added, including some Bistro dining chairs from Città. The large black pendants above the table were also a Città find. The Atlas pendant lights above the island are from French Country Collections. ABOVE Behind the kitchen, the scullery houses ample storage, along with an integrated dish drawer and beverage fridge. The mirrored splashback reflects the light and creates a feeling of space.

One of Nicky’s favourite moments during the build was when Plantation landscape designer Michael Mansvelt presented his ideas. “Mark reckons I was as excited looking at Michael’s garden plans as I was looking at the house plans,” she says.
Michael also designed the outdoor areas, suggesting louvred roofs for privacy and protection and the eye-catching laser-cut aluminium screen that helps direct guests to the front door. Lighting the outdoor fire when visitors stop by is a real pleasure and has become a cherished ritual. “We’ve had a few fun nights trying to perfect our pizza-making skills,” says Nicky.

TOP The warm plywood seen in the kitchen is repeated in the upper-storey master suite – behind this wall is a walk-in wardrobe. The bed linen here is from Thread, with pillowcases by Penney & Bennett. The bedside table is from Biance Lorenne and the Contrast light shade is from Città. ABOVE The couple’s ensuite includes marbled Corian basins atop a plywood vanity.

Mark tackled some of the landscaping work himself, including the paving and raised vegetable beds, which he boxed up with rough-sawn wood to leave rustic-looking imprints in the concrete.
Nicky says she and Mark have no regrets about making such a big transition: “Every time we come home, we’re filled with excitement and that pinch-me feeling.” Having a lot of space has made the rural-to-urban move seem easier. “Coming from a farm, we wanted this feeling of privacy, and having a large garden was really important too.”

TOP Mylee the cat is pictured on the balcony on the other side of the kitchen. The little spiral table beside her was made by Mark. ABOVE Nicky sits on the L-shaped inbuilt seating beside the outdoor dining table. A keen sewer, she made the cushions herself.

When everything was completed, certain members of the family couldn’t wait for the couple to move in. “Mark and I wanted to wait until after Christmas, but [the children] insisted we celebrate in our new home. It decided to rain and I hadn’t finished my Christmas shopping, but in the end it was totally worthwhile.”

Words Vivienne Haldane
Duncan Innes

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