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This dreamy Waikato home was designed for family living – and they nail it

Every corner of this idyllic Waikato home has been precisely planned and perfectly styled to make family living and outdoor entertaining easy

Meet and greet 

Kent Fife, owner of Line & Design Landscaping & Swimming Pools, Olivia Fife, solicitor and administrator for Line & Design, Mila, 9, Luka, 7, and Greta, 4, plus cows Star and Captain Underpants, and five chickens

This dreamy Waikato home was designed for family living – and they nail it

Best lessons learnt?
Olivia: I have learned patience. It takes time to develop a house into a home and it is important to be yourself. I try not to stress about being on-trend – trends are great to add in and I have fun finding clever ways to incorporate them, but you don’t need an entirely on-trend home to feel fulfilled. I’d also suggest making scale cut-outs of furniture and shifting them around on your house drawings. This is how we chose our sofas and their placement. It is important to think about access and workable space. Glassware should be kept behind doors in a kitchen otherwise it will get greasy and dusty. I had my glass buffet made as I was tired of cleaning all my glassware in the walk-in pantry.

What would you never do again?
Use ugly heated towel rails that can’t be removed without retiling, or use white grout on bathroom floor tiles.

Most memorable experience you’ve had in your home?
Hosting the kids’ birthday parties each year. We set up a big party table either on the deck or lawn and the kids all run between the kids’ lounge, the pool and the playhouse.

Budget

What was the cost of your build and extension?
Our original build cost was $380K including decking, and our extension was $150K including cabinetry.

How did your budget forecast compare to your actual spend?
Bang on for both. Our original build was a fixed-cost contract that went smoothly other than the excavation costs being high. With our extension, we chose to pay as we went rather than get an upfront fixed price. We only did this because we had a good handle on costs, realistic expectations and a trusted builder. We think we got a lot of bang for our buck and feel fortunate to have built when we did as costs have gone up so much in recent years.

What areas of your home did you save on?
We saved on the exterior, using a large Firth ‘Manorstone’ brick and a matched mortar colour to achieve the look of stone at a much lower cost. We also saved on the flooring, kitchen bench and simple tile choices.

What did you splurge on?
We splurged on the bones of the house: engineered roof pitch for the wide outdoor portico, a scissor truss in the living area, and lots of bifold doors and large windows. For the extension we splurged on built-in cabinetry, wallpaper and spacious rooms.

Words by: Debbie Harrison. Photography by: Vanessa and Michael Lewis.

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