This beautiful, yet robust, family home in Nelson is built for maximum sun, catching rays all day long from its lofty spot
Brooke and Andrew Strang’s home is maximised for sunlight. They do live in Nelson after all, a city renowned for being one of the sunniest places in New Zealand – and the house is sure to catch every last ray with its decks positioned for the morning and afternoon sun, and large windows in every room.
But it’s not just the sunshine they were aiming to capture; it was also the view. Sitting high up on a hill in Britannia Heights, the Strangs’ sleek new home enjoys an incredible outlook across Nelson and out to the sea. Only a 15-minute walk away from the beach and a five-minute drive to town, the site was a dream location for Brooke and Andrew.
The build started in January last year and the couple and their three children moved in just in time for Christmas. They used Potius Building Systems, a company which constructs floor, roof and wall panels off site. “It all came in on cranes and within a couple of days all the walls were up and we could see our house,” says Brooke.
The section was steep, so they built the house 25 metres down the hill and constructed a retaining wall at the top to create space for a big front lawn, driveway and garage.
Now they have a lawn for the kids to play on and, once the trees along the roadside have grown, there’ll be some privacy, too. “It’s the best of both worlds,” says Brooke. “We’ve got amazing views on one side of the house and we’ll have a little private oasis on the other.”
Brooke, who describes her style as “a bit of a mix”, wanted warm, welcoming and functional spaces with clean lines and a modern, contemporary look. The rich naturals and whites she chose allow the rooms to breathe, creating the calm feel she was after and providing a great background for the pastel accents in the decor.
“The beauty of having a neutral house is that it works so well with texture and different furniture,” says Brooke, who admits she has a tendency to often change things around.
“I found it difficult when we were moving in, because I wanted to fill all the spaces straight away,” she says. “But it doesn’t quite work like that; you’ve got to take your time. And towards the end of the build you don’t have a lot of money, so all those dreams are crushed quite quickly!” In fact, some of Brooke’s favourite pieces, such as the cane tables, came from local op-shops.
When it came to the layout there were two non-negotiables: the house had to be open-plan with plenty of space, and every room had to have a view. “We have a loud family, and loud kids,” says Brooke. “There’s very rarely a weekend when we don’t have people over, so we needed the house to be able to accommodate all of that.”
In fact, they have visitors so often they included a guest room downstairs, alongside the three kids’ bedrooms. Upstairs, you’ll find the main bedroom, an office, toilet and the open-plan kitchen and living space, which is sandwiched between two impressive decks.
Decking gave the Strangs a way to achieve their dream of large, open interior spaces and make the most of the views. The pair didn’t hold back, including two upper and one lower deck on the plans.
In the morning, the sun shines on the eastern deck, which extends off the kitchen and dining area and looks onto the lawn. In the afternoon, as the sun moves across, so do the Strangs, who can then enjoy the breathtaking hill and ocean views from the deck on the opposite side of the kitchen/dining space. The third deck runs alongside all four bedrooms on the lower level.
A new-build can often feel like a precious gem that shouldn’t be touched, but not in the Strangs’ case. “The last thing you want to do is tell the kids, ‘You can’t run around. You can’t do this, you can’t do that,’” says Andrew. “We wanted it to be a functional family home, not a show home.” Besides, there’s now a playful puppy in the mix, too.
The flooring choice, for these reasons, was especially important. “We used to have a house with black carpet and I was vacuuming twice a day,” says Brooke, who had no intention of doing so in their new home. In the end they opted for a light grey carpet, which has exceeded expectations when it comes to hiding food stains, mess and puppy fur.
The Strangs also used a washable paint. “I was so worried that the kids would be up and down the stairs, smearing fingerprints all over the white walls,” says Brooke. “But this paint lets you wash any marks off super easily.”
They’ve considered how to protect their furniture from all that sun, too. Although this isn’t a problem during the peak of the day, they did install block-out blinds to reduce the risk, and the carpet is fade-resistant. “I also love a good throw, so if there are any areas in direct sunlight, I whip a throw over it,” says Brooke.
Well settled in by now, the family love the unbroken connection to the outdoors afforded by the views and decks, and the home’s generous, open spaces – as do their guests. “We can have 25 people in the main living area with all the doors open, and you wouldn’t even know,” says Andrew.
Words by: Bea Taylor. Photography by: Daniel Allen.