Modernism in the Wetlands

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Designing to respond to the particulars of a site is Architecture 101 and this new build in North Canterbury has that part truly sussed. Two courtyards ensure wraparound sun and views from dawn to dusk. One to the east, sits between the living and bedroom wing of the home overlooking the Pegasus wetlands, so it’s the owners’ go-to spot for morning coffee and the paper; another to the north-west comes into its own in the evening, ideal for G&Ts and easy conversation as the day draws to a close.

The house belongs to Box interior designer Sam Elliot’s mum Ali and her partner Dennis. Working with family can be problematic but the intrepid pair made good use of their extended clan – one of Sam’s cousins built the house, another did the tiling. Besides, our Sam knows how to tactfully steer her clients to wise choices.  A prime example is the black suede engineered stone kitchen bench and splashback. “Mum wanted white at first but it wouldn’t have tied in with the space,” says Sam.  Ali had to admit once the house was finished that it looked smart and stylish. “Plus she loves the walk-in pantry which she has never had before.”

Built-in elements further enhance the cohesiveness of the look. The kitchens and bathrooms feature gaboon-ply cabinetry, and the bench seats alongside the living room fireplace are in the same material. Hoop-pine ceilings counterbalance the heated concrete floors to bring warmth to the palette and underfoot. “Mum seldom needs to use the fireplace even in a Canterbury winter,” says Sam.

Where the couple could not be swayed in their decision was in their choice of bamboo for the decking. They researched the options thoroughly and weren’t sold on the lightness of Vitex or red-toned Kwila. Bamboo boardwalks flanking the house are similar to those that criss-cross the extensive wetlands. “It means the backyard seems to flow into the landscape,” says Sam. Ali and Dennis love to get out the bicycles and perambulate along the pathways. But they equally love coming home to their low-key mid-century style retreat.