They say good things come in threes and that’s certainly the case for this family, whose rural property on the outskirts of Greytown was completed in three very different stages
“We didn’t have an ultimate plan for this house,” says Jo Lysaght, a graphic designer and co-owner of online homeware store Caravan Homewares. “But over the past 10 years it’s evolved from a 90-square-metre cottage into a five-bedroom 320-square-metre house which works perfectly for two adults who work from home, two children and any number of animals!”
Jo and husband Dave Murray bought the nine-hectare section in 2000 but only built the two-bedroom cottage when they returned from their OE in 2004. One year on and they’d added a dining room. In 2009, they were at it again, with the addition of a new kitchen, dining and living space, three bedrooms, a family bathroom and a laundry.
Where possible the couple have used recycled materials, including the matai floorboards, which came from a Government building in Wellington, and vintage doors. The large dining table was up-cycled.
“I got the tabletop from a play group for $100 and the legs are made from old totara beams that my father salvaged from a Carterton supermarket,” says Jo.
Given their careers – Dave owns a 3D illustration and web design company – it’s not surprising this couple has firm ideas about design, colour and texture, which is evident as soon as the front door opens.
In the entrance they opted for a wall of kiln-dried cedar, which looks a little like old-school sarking.
“We were going to paint the wall, but when you build new you run the risk of having a characterless home so this was a way to add texture.”
The new bathroom also received the same treatment, which works well with the claw-foot bath found on Trade Me that Jo had repainted and the vintage-style wire wall unit sold in her shop.
However, it’s the latest extension that really brings the wow factor. Fans of generous open-plan spaces, they’ve gone large in the kitchen, dining and living area.
“We were so cramped in the old cottage that we’ve almost over-compensated by building bigger than we really need,” says Jo. The floor-to-ceiling pantry, built by a local carpenter, is also on the generous side and has no handles to ensure that it “looks like a blank wall”.
Anchoring this super-sized space is the Baltic pine kitchen bench which originally came from a French sweet shop.
“We bought it in Greytown before we built the extension, so although it was in storage for two years, we designed the kitchen around it.”
A similar story applies to the 2.5-metre wooden wall unit which the couple bought while on holiday in Picton and which took several burly blokes to move. It is now home to pottery that Jo has been collecting since childhood.
Overlooking the impressive vegetable garden is the master bedroom, where more of Jo’s ceramics are stored in a china cabinet which came from a local secondhand shop. Jo found a good use for vintage doilies by sewing them onto cushion covers, while an old record cover with interesting graphics was framed and hung next to the bed.
Next door in son Baxter’s room, a bright orange feature wall contrasts with a china cabinet which Jo swapped with a local secondhand store. “The back was ruined, so I replaced it with a sheet of peg board that I painted bright blue.”
Jo’s handiwork is also evident in Evie’s room, from the duvet cover and cushions to the bedside tables that received the white-paint treatment. A set of teal and white drawers were Dave’s as a child and have accompanied the family on several moves.
The old cottage flows seamlessly into the new build, with the cottage’s former dining room transformed into Jo’s office and the master bedroom now used for storage for Jo’s shop. The former living room has become the setting for movie nights.
The cottage’s kitchen remains as it was – but it isn’t idle. “Dave makes his own bread, so having a second kitchen where he can spread out is great. It also helps to have two ovens at Christmas, when we often cater for 23 people. And I use the benchtop to work on my pottery.”
While most of the property is planted in natives, the couple set aside a chunk for an orchard and vegetable garden which supplies the family with peaches, plums, apples, cherries, beans, carrots and herbs.
For this family, three really was the magic number.
Words by: Sharon Stephenson. Photography by: Elizabeth Goodall.