An unexpected move into a new-build in Auckland’s Beachlands was the catalyst for a fresh approach to life for this busy family
The Bannisters are no strangers to lifestyle changes – this is their third time in the pages of Your Home and Garden in three years! We first met them in West Auckland at a bright and colourful new-build. However, with work commitments in the east of the city, they then took advantage of an opportunity to live in a small cottage on the grounds of Adam’s work.
“We were loving living in the eastern suburbs; it was a whole new side of the city to explore and we really enjoyed the proximity to central Auckland,” remembers Dawn. While there, the Bannisters often explored the beautiful Pōhutukawa Coast southeast of the city centre. Swimming, walks and visits to local markets reconnected the family with the Beachlands area, where Dawn’s parents used to moor their boat a few decades earlier.
“Driving along the coast road and through the country villages, we always had a real sense of departure from the busyness of life,” says Dawn.
What surprised the family was that even with the recent boom in development that has seen many Aucklanders moving away from the central city to outlying spots, the coastal town of Beachlands had retained its calm holiday vibe and strong sense of community.
“When we learned the area around the marina was to be developed, we decided to make the move,” says Dawn. “We picked our plot, but over the next couple of years the project was passed from one company to another without ever breaking ground, so we decided to walk away from the idea.”
Instead, they looked into getting an investment property in the same area, eventually purchasing a two-level townhouse pre-build. But due to a rapid change in circumstances, the family decided to move in themselves, and are loving their new home.
“The marina has a very relaxed and social vibe with markets and restaurants,” says Dawn. “It’s a very family-friendly place and we always meet someone to have a drink and chat with while the kids play.”
While the home was originally pegged as a lock-and-leave rental and the family’s initial move was primarily for convenience, Dawn has nonetheless been busy stamping her style on the home.
“My style has evolved from full-on colour and lots to look at when the children were small, to a simpler, cleaner look,” says Dawn. “I like a neutral palette with lots of white and pale wood with subtle colour additions.”
Working with a pristine, brand-new home, Dawn set about balancing the bright white interior with touches of colour and contrast. While confident with most of her decisions, she enlisted an interior designer to help with the palette for the snug at the front of the home.
“The professional advice saved me the angst of thinking my ideas wouldn’t complement the spaces. And there was no deliberating over paint samples – we got it right first time!”
The snug is now a dramatic dark grey, contrasting with the bright and breezy aesthetic of the central living area where the kitchen is set off to the side and the dining table occupies a tidy space large enough for the family of four but small enough to keep clutter-free. Dawn has moved her much-loved turquoise Smeg fridge and kettle from their previous home, adding a zing of colour to the otherwise pared-back space.
Dawn cites the living area as her favourite place as it’s where the whole family can congregate and spend time together without the distraction of the TV and kids’ devices which are relegated to the snug.
“It’s so light and spacious, and we purposely didn’t put a TV in there so it would be a social area. [Daughter] Eliza has also commandeered a large cupboard under the stairs as her own personal play space, which suits me fine as it’s a great spot to tuck away toys.”
Despite all that moving around in the past five years, the Bannisters now feel settled in their new abode, which has set Dawn on a more focused decorating path.
After initially concentrating on the build and ensuring it was finished with high-quality lighting and snowy walls, she has been able to turn her attention to choosing appropriate furniture to fill the four-bedroom home. Along with many existing pieces, new items have been selected to fill the larger spaces, including a huge sofa for the snug, which can fit the whole family for movie nights – including Bonnie the puppy.
Upstairs, the personality of each family member comes to the fore, with 7-year-old Eliza’s room decorated with a soft peachy pink dado to complement her growing collection of unicorns. The master bedroom sits at the back of the home, overlooking the garden, its walls painted in a strong grey-tinged blue that makes a perfect backdrop for the white and soft-pink linen bedding.
The Bannisters have quickly made their stylish mark on this new-build and although the interior is largely monochromatic, a clever use of texture and pattern has softened the overall feel, giving the home warmth without fuss or clutter.
Dawn’s style has evolved and become more considered, with items chosen for their enduring good looks rather than their currency. The result is a calm, contemporary home that’s as welcoming and laidback as the beachy suburb surrounding it.
Words and styling by: Tina Stephen. Photography by: Helen Bankers.