The owners of this ultra-simple home near Tutukaka achieved their goal by building exactly what they needed and no more
Meet and greet
Marcelle Flude, owner of The Beauty Room, Tutukaka, Brendan Flude, forestry health and safety manager, and Marlow, 8, plus Burmese cats Boston and Poppy and rabbits Odin and Thor.
This robust new-build near Tutukaka is a minimalist’s dream
When you live in a place like Tutukaka on Northland’s east coast, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to picture-perfect bays and stunning sweeps of coastline, but hopefully never complacent about the beauty of your environment.
As the long drive winds up to the Flude home, situated on a hilltop between Tutukaka Marina and Matapouri Bay, bush views spread out below and a vast sky stretches to the distant sparkle of the Pacific. Marcelle and Brendan Flude and son Marlow, then 3, made the move north from Auckland five years ago, and have embraced the local lifestyle, surfing, paddleboarding and spending long summer days out on the ocean.
Wanting to put down roots in the area and build a home that suited them perfectly, the couple purchased their hilltop section in early 2014. Although Brendan does not have a background in architectural design, he began drawing up plans for their new abode.
The brief was simple: they both wanted a cost-effective, warm and efficient family home which reflected their love of minimalist design. And this is exactly what the couple achieved – and more. Sitting discreetly on the top ridge of the property, their brand-new home is attuned to the modern bach vernacular with its long, lean proportions and a design of perfect simplicity.
Marcelle and Brendan’s vision of clean lines, bold shapes and robust materials, combined with their desire to create a minimal footprint, have resulted in a striking home: a simple, black, rectangular box surrounded by lush, sloping paddocks, with a backdrop of protected native bush. The property is only a few minutes’ drive from the hub of Tutukaka and yet it feels wild and remote, nestled on its private outcrop and looking out towards the ocean.
With their plans in hand, the couple engaged a building company on a fixed-price contract to build the house and garage but reserved the tasks of painting the interior, landscaping and deck-building for themselves. After input from the builder’s draughtsman, the plans were finalised and the build began in April 2015; 10 months later the family moved in.
The goal was to build a modern, architectural home within a fairly modest budget. “We built the house to suit the needs of our small family,” says Marcelle. “We focused our resources and efforts on creating a large living area rather than having extra bedrooms.”
By limiting the floorplan to just two bedrooms and a shared family bathroom, the couple kept the build costs down without losing a sense of spaciousness. The interior luxuriates in clean lines and a natural colour palette provided by the fuss-free building materials the pair selected. From the early stages of the design, Marcelle and Brendan had favoured an unembellished palette of three key materials – concrete, natural pine and pure black Colorsteel – and they have stayed true to this vision, confidently creating a cohesive and delightful interior.
With massive walls of triple-stacking sliding doors facing northeast, the home’s aspect maximises passive heating via the exposed concrete floor, double-glazing and insulation. Despite the raw element to the interior with the extensive use of concrete, the rooms are warmed with honey-toned pine and have been lavished with an attention to detail that gives them a finished, luxurious feel. The overall effect is of a perfectly formed small home graced with generous space and light.
The floorplan reads like a simple Lego project with block-like spaces organised in a line with each room maximised for views and spilling out onto a deck which runs the length of the building. A separate garage, clad in the same black Colorsteel, is seamlessly connected to the house by a deck and a single continuous roof. This covered deck area houses a long dining table and is often the scene of dinner parties and late-night drinks with friends.
With Brendan’s love of cooking, the kitchen is naturally the hub of the home and, being connected to the deck, also serves as the obvious entry point to the house, neatly avoiding the addition of an unnecessary grand entrance. The kitchen, which occupies a corner of the open-plan living space, was designed by the couple and built from the same palette of robust materials as the rest of the house. Its simple lines have been configured for minimal fuss and maximum workspace. The hero of this area is an exposed concrete-block wall, which cleverly doubles as a splashback (it has been coated in a specialised waterproofing product).
At the opposite end of the living area – linked by a dining table and sliding doors on either side – is a lounge created to evoke a sense of hygge (the Danish concept of cosiness). Here there are fewer windows and a dark painted feature wall which envelops and defines this zone. A large sofa and soft cowhide on the floor bring textural warmth, with cushions and throws in soft, muted blues and mustards adding layers of comfort. A stack of architectural magazines and a standard lamp finish off this favourite spot for curling up in front of the roaring fireplace. A precision-hung line of frames showcases art by Brendan’s late grandfather Gerald Flude.
Beyond lies the hallway with the two bedrooms, storage and bathroom stacked along it; each will be fitted with a sliding barn door to match the one for the loo, when funds allow. The master bedroom, at the end of the hallway, offers a lesson in minimal living. A concrete-block wall separates the sleeping area from the wardrobe space and provides a feature backdrop to the bed, its practical texture providing a nice juxtaposition to the duvet of emerald green velvet.
The family bathroom has a luxury aesthetic with floor-to ceiling marble tiles, a walk-in shower and natural light streaming in from a long and lean window. A floating vanity and a vintage freestanding industrial cabinet keep clutter to a minimum.
Thanks to ample outdoor space there is also room for the home to grow and evolve, with a sleepout for guests already envisioned, alongside the outdoor living and camping areas planned as part of the landscaping.
This home is a testament to its proactive and involved owners who gave each detail careful consideration and supervised every stage of the design and build. What has resulted is a stunningly simple, future-proofed home with all the trappings of an architecturally designed building yet held in check by a small – but smartly allocated – budget.
The family have been in their home for 18 months and, although the landscaping is an ongoing project slotted in between the couple’s day jobs, the vision is complete: the home is just how they wanted it to be, easily coping with visiting friends and family and, at other times, quietly taking care of the three of them, and the local nesting kiwi.
Created by: Tina Stephen. Photography by: Helen Bankers.