Inside homes

Artist and illustrator Greg Straight’s North Shore home

Someone else’s half-finished, non-compliant reno didn’t deter an artistic couple who have brought their cool design aesthetic to this family home on Auckland’s North Shore

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Who lives here?

Greg Straight (artist and illustrator), Hannah Bancroft (owns and runs online art-print store Duett Design with Greg), Chloe, 9, and Leo, 5, plus Pebbles the cat.

Background

A few years ago it became apparent that artist and illustrator Greg Straight’s workspace needed something of a rethink. He’d been working from the corner of the family living room, but what he longed for was a space of his own where he could focus on his work as a freelance illustrator and also frame and store his art. In 2012, Greg and his wife, Hannah, set about looking for a new family home: somewhere with enough outdoor space for their two young children and an interior layout that would accommodate a much-needed work studio.

The new house 

It didn’t take long before the couple found a newly renovated home that fitted their requirements. Situated in Beach Haven on Auckland’s North Shore, the home was close to schools, shops and family, and only an easy 20-minute drive to the city centre. “We instantly fell in love with the home’s contemporary vibe,” says Hannah. “The natural light poured in through the extensive windows, and the indoor-outdoor flow was amazing.”

We instantly fell in love

with the home’s contemporary vibe

The couple loved the contemporary mix of bleached timber and polished concrete flooring, plus the expansive views over lush native bush and towards Auckland Harbour. However, the renovations started by the previous owners were not finished, and the work which had been done did not comply with council regulations. On the positive side, the couple knew that the home had some good basic elements. For instance, the kitchen, although not fully installed, was modern and of a good standard, as were the bathrooms.

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The challenge

Undeterred by the home’s lack of a Code Compliance Certificate (CCC), Greg and Hannah put in an offer, which was promptly accepted. Once they’d moved in, they wasted no time in tackling the task of getting the home to comply with the original building consent. The couple had to track down past tradesmen to obtain the appropriate documentation for the work that had already been done. “It was extremely challenging to come in at that stage of the process,” says Greg.

In some areas, the pair literally had to tear walls down and start again. “In order to get the CCC, works had to be carried out in very specific ways,” explains Greg. “It was very frustrating as a lot of the money we spent was on work that made no visible difference to the house.”

After a couple of years of problem-solving, large amounts of stress, numerous tradesmen and many dollars spent, the couple were able to pop the Champagne when the renovations were finally signed off at the end of 2015.

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The art

Beautiful artworks feature heavily throughout this home, which is unsurprising given the owners’ artistic talents. Greg has been creating artworks for about eight years in his signature ‘contemporary Kiwiana’ style. His works are vector-based (a technique using geometric shapes) and typically use a bold, yet limited, colour palette. His art is on the walls of many Kiwi homes and baches and is often inspired by beach culture.

Early last year, trying to find the perfect piece of art to hang on the main living-room wall, and with something quite specific in mind, Hannah asked Greg to translate what was in her head onto paper. What began as a small, one-off design project grew into a husband-and-wife collaboration now known as Duett Design.

This trend-based art-print brand (with its own online store) has a strong geometric core but the colours are fully customisable to suit all tastes. “The geometric aesthetic is what the brand has become known for, but we’ll veer off course on occasion as new inspiration comes, and to keep things fresh,” explains Hannah.

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The look

This design-savvy duo have a self-described “mishmash aesthetic” of Scandi, beachy and mid-century. They chose a pared-back colour palette mixed with natural elements, clean lines and geometric shapes. Having spotted a paint colour in a magazine, Hannah painted a couple of feature walls in Resene ‘Breeze’, which provide the perfect backdrop for the light timber tones and blue accents found throughout the house.

It’s not everyone’s cup of tea,

but it works for us at the moment

The open-plan master bedroom and ensuite definitely has wow factor. The couple opted to leave the space open to make the most of the abundant natural light as well as the beautiful views. “For now, it’s staying as it is. It really opens up the space and gives it a luxe feel,” says Hannah. “It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it works for us at the moment.”

As for the children, they both had a fair amount of input into the design of their bedrooms. Chloe wanted hers to be “grown up” and she has taken on her mother’s love for crisp mints and aqua blues. Like most young boys, Leo asked for Batman and Star Wars – and his fun and playful room totally hits the brief.

The end

Having always been inspired by modern interior styles, Hannah’s inner modernist was unleashed when she moved into this home. “Everything in our home feels like a true reflection of my taste now.” Although there is more the couple would like to do on the house, the family are extremely happy in their contemporary home-plus-art studio which, like Duett Designs, has been another successful collaboration by this clever duo.

Words by: Annick Larkin. Styling by: Vanessa Nouwens. Photography by: Jackie Meiring.

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