Influenced by exotic holidays, one family set about building their own resort with touches of Byron Bay and Bali
Phoebe and Damon Batchelor’s holidays in Bali and Byron Bay left a lasting impression on them. Although the New Plymouth couple loved the diversity of snowy mountains and epic surf breaks their west coast abode offered, they were ready for a change of scene and wanted to create their own tropical oasis in a warmer climate, drawing on those holidays.
While searching for a sunnier spot in New Zealand to call home, they found a beautiful piece of land in 2017 on the east coast surf beach of Papamoa in the sun-drenched Bay of Plenty.
It was the perfect spot for their family to settle down and assimilate into the region’s surf culture – and with Ruapehu not too far off, they were still able to fulfil their love for snowboarding.
For Phoebe and Damon, the vision for their home was pretty clear from the outset. Phoebe reflects, “We tried to create a relaxed and casual, but extremely functional villa-style home that is influenced by Balinese and Byron Bay style, with a minimalist Scandi vibe. We really wanted to continue the ambience of being on a beach holiday while being at home, soaking up the sunshine by the pool.”
And that is exactly what they have achieved – the ultimate Byron Bay-style escape without the need to travel. As co-owners of Iconic Pools NZ, basing their living and outdoor space around
a heated swimming pool was a given. “We love installing pools as we know how much value they add for families, especially with younger kids as they spend time together relaxing and hanging out. It’s one of the reasons we love working in this industry as much as we do,” says Phoebe.
Engaging Andy Smith and his team from DBC Building, the build process of their villa style home was a positive experience, with the cherry on the cake being the help and support from friends and family back in New Plymouth.
Like many Kiwi homes, the kitchen is the centre of the home. The family eat together at the generous kitchen island, which is built slightly wider to allow bar stools to be tucked out of sight. Designed by award-winning kitchen designer, Annika Rowson, this light and white space is partnered with warm keruing timber and a white Corian benchtop. The relaxed, harmonious palette combined with indoor greenery oozes Byron Bay charm. It’s not only ideal for entertaining, it features a number of spaces to unwind, with wide doors opening to the deck outside. Large open windows frame the swimming pool to capture glimpses of sparkling blue water and for keeping an eye on the children at all times.
It’s the perfect spot for cooking for family and friends, as well as the local community in need of a nutritious meal. Phoebe volunteers at Kura Kai NZ, a non-profit organisation providing frozen home-cooked meals for rangatahi (youth) in need of support; it’s an investment of love and time, and one she gets a lot of satisfaction from, as well as Savanah and Boston who also provide hands-on assistance.
Off the kitchen is a compact office nook, a place for Phoebe to work from home and somewhere for the kids to settle in to do their homework with help from their mum close by. Again, keruing timber features prominently with open office shelving in the wood, and gives a point of connection throughout the home as the timber features consistently. A polished concrete floor adds a contemporary edge with lush potted plants inside bringing nature indoors.
The family has also established a thriving vegetable garden outside, with the kids keenly involved in growing the produce destined to be used by themselves and Kura Kai meals.
Green-fingered Phoebe reflects on her obsession with indoor and outdoor greenery. “I’m sure it’s in our genes as my grandmother Adele had up to 200 pot plants at a time and my other grandmother Ruby had a great vegetable garden from which she supplied many people in her community with fresh food.”
The planting concept of the home reflects Phoebe’s desire for an urban tropical oasis. Tropical plants such as tractor seat ligularia (Ligularia reniformis), frangipani, nikau, kentia palms (Howea forsteriana), monstera, bamboo, bamboo palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii), bangalow palm (Archontophoenix cunninghamiana), umbrella palms (Cyperus alternifolius) and Costa Rican bamboo create a lush tropical island feel, with the giant white bird of paradise (Strelitzia nicolai) one of Phoebe’s favourite features.
“I really believe that we have created a beautiful synergy between the crystal-clear water of our pool and the verdant tropical surroundings around the pool itself,” she says. As a backdrop
to the pool and plantings, the couple have used cedar and Stria cladding painted in Dulux Snowy Mountains. The contrasting colours of cedar, white, green and the blueness of the pool create
a tranquil and inviting space.
The peace of the outdoor sanctuary is heightened further by the indoor/outdoor flow through sliding doors to the deck area adjacent to the pool. This is where the Batchelors do most of their entertaining.
For this active family, waking up every day and being able to exercise Island, the family dog, on the endless stretch of white sandy beach and being able to catch waves from dawn to dusk in the balmy warmth of the east coast is a lifestyle they feel extremely blessed to enjoy.
“The only thing missing is the mini skate half-pipe that will be going into our backyard in February to complete our oasis for our children,” says Phoebe. “We plan on keeping this home for now, while our children are loving the culture and thriving in Papamoa. The sun, the surf, the fantastic school the kids go to, the great neighbours, the home we planned and our beautiful pool. Why would we leave?”
Words by Holly Jean Brooker. Photography by Alice Veysey. Styling by Bea Taylor