A residential development north of Auckland provided this family with the ideal blank canvas on which to build new
Nestled between Silverdale and Orewa, just north of Auckland, is a relatively new residential development and the location of this new-build owned by Joe and Lisa Byrne. The once-rural land, formerly known for its farms, orchards, timber mills and botanical reserves, is now barely recognisable. As luck would have it, Joe happened to be in the right place at the right time when he was made aware of the site’s development plans ahead of the general public.
Back in 2010 Millwater Estate was in its infancy and Joe was working as a project manager for a group housing company responsible for building homes on the subdivision. Although he and Lisa already owned a home on Auckland’s North Shore, they decided to put it on the market in order to become one of the first people to secure a plot at Millwater and build a house.
“We loved that there was good infrastructure with plans for schools, parks, shops and bush walks,” says Lisa. “In the early days there was only a handful of people living here – we even had locked gates for security at night. It was like living on a rural property.”
In 2013, eager to build again, Joe and Lisa decided to purchase a new-build off the plans in the same subdivision. “We liked this site because of the lush bush opposite and the close proximity to the children’s schools, as well as the local shops and nearby beaches,” says Lisa.
The new-build took around eight months to complete, with the couple and their children, Sophie and Jack, living at their first Millwater home until it was ready.
Joe and Lisa were able to have significant input into the home’s design and layout, tweaking the original plans drawn up by the housing company’s architect to ensure it met the needs of their family.
With Joe working in the industry, and having already built before, the pair knew exactly what they wanted in terms of layout. “We deviated somewhat from the original plans, mostly moving walls to alter the flow of the house,” says Lisa. “In addition, we opted to reduce the size of the formal lounge, allowing the floor area of the open-plan kitchen, living and dining spaces to be increased. It made more sense as that’s where we spend the majority of our time together as a family.”
Inside, the overall look is reminiscent of a Hamptons-style beach house with the fresh tone of Resene ‘Wan White’ on every wall. Natural greenery, pale wood floors and beautiful timber furniture give the open spaces warmth while simultaneously creating contrast to the glossy white surfaces and surrounding glass.
Taking her cue from an artwork she loves, Lisa chose the punchy accent hues of yellow, turquoise and pink. Rather than buy new, Joe upcycled Trade Me finds with a fresh coat of paint, and together they reupholstered vintage chairs to add texture, colour and personality. “It means that the overall look has really come together and looks cohesive, but I haven’t over-spent,” says Lisa.
Having worked as a designer for a media company before starting her own business, Bright Creative, Lisa’s background made choosing the colour palette, flooring, bathroom fittings and soft furnishings an enjoyable process. For Joe, his expertise as a builder meant he had the skills to design and build custom furniture such as the ply headboard and side tables in the master bedroom, design the kitchen, and install all the decks and planter boxes around the outside of the house.
Joe and Lisa have seen the residential development of Millwater undergo major growth in the past few years. The once-rural land has been skilfully shaped into a thriving community, providing those who live there with an urban lifestyle but without the big-city price tag.
Tips for buying off-plan
- Make sure you get the layout exactly how you want it at the planning stage; don’t be afraid to keep making changes until you get it right. Once you have consent to build, don’t deviate from your plan – not only is it expensive but it will hold up the build.
- Consider using a local planning consultant for your resource consent process. Although it may cost a little more, it will make the whole process easy and stress free.
Words by: Annick Larkin
Photography by: Emma MacDonald