For this savvy couple, building from a pre-designed plan allowed them to realise their vision of a light, bright home near Auckland’s eastern beaches
Meet and greet
Giovanni Luca, technical support manager at StayinFront, Becks Luca, interior stylist and owner of Designroom, Brianna, 11, and Santino, 10, plus Chipper-Wilson the kitten.
This couple have created a light and bright home in the Eastern Bays
Sometimes just having a dream isn’t enough – you also need the courage to see it through. While living in their first home in Flat Bush, a new development in South Auckland, Becks and Giovanni Luca often found themselves driving to the nearby suburb of Beachlands to see family and friends who lived there. The couple daydreamed of one day making a move to the area themselves. In the meantime, it was becoming apparent that the couple and their two young children – Brianna, now 11, and Santino, now 10 – needed a home with more space.
In early 2016, encouraged by Auckland’s hot property market, the couple decided to sell their Flat Bush property. Buoyed by the generous land sizes on offer further east in Beachlands and excited about the prospect of building again, Becks and Giovanni took the plunge and made their daydreams a reality.
Family at mind
After a great deal of research, Becks and Giovanni chose to build their new home with local construction company Stonewood Homes. They looked for a floorplan that was well suited to their site’s northeast orientation, and settled on the Linkwater, an open-plan, five-bedroom package with two lounge areas, allowing for both casual and formal living.
“We are a close family with young children, so being together is important to us,” says Becks. The couple were able to modify the plans to meet their family’s needs and style. “We made some changes including a higher ceiling, larger storage spaces throughout and an increase in size for both living areas,” recalls Becks. They also opted for a larger kitchen island bench which can comfortably seat six. “We are so grateful we installed a larger island as we spend a lot of time there as a family, eating, chatting and doing homework,” says Becks.
Although Stonewood Homes managed the whole design, planning and consent process, the couple weren’t completely immune to challenges. One of the biggest came about because they were using a pre-existing floorplan and had to remain within the home’s designated footprint. This wasn’t a problem per se, but it did require many hours of brainstorming and space planning to ensure the layout didn’t extend beyond the council’s building-area maximums. “We spent hours working and planning with Stonewood Homes and we did a lot of thinking about how and where we spend our time to ensure we got the perfect layout for us as a family,” explains Becks.
Once the couple had decided on their layout, and to help them understand how their new house would be situated on the site, Giovanni made a 1:100 scale model of the new home. “It was invaluable to be able to visualise our home in 3D and it helped us with planning the outdoor spaces and the interior and exterior paint colours,” says Becks.
Having sold their property in Flat Bush, the family rented a house in Beachlands while their new home was being built. “We love the building process so, for us, the year of renting was an opportunity to learn from past mistakes, and to plan and research how we could implement clever ideas into the new-build,” explains Becks.
Even though Stonewood Homes was responsible for the design and build, Giovanni and Becks were very hands-on during the building process. Giovanni visited the site most weekends, proving he was a dab hand on the tools by transforming a Citta oak dining table into vanity benchtops for both bathrooms. Additionally, he pre-wired the ethernet and all the audio/visual components throughout the house, cleverly hiding them in cabinets or behind walls. “This means that all our devices can be remotely accessed, allowing for more space inside the home,” says Becks.
Future-proofing was an important element to this build and the couple researched tirelessly until they found the right solutions for their family. “We wanted to make this home as smart as we could, so we incorporated features such as the Ring video doorbell, Schlage smart lock and alarm, remote-operated garage door, home security system and wireless lighting which allow for both remote motion detection and easier accessibility,” says Becks.
Becks is a stylist by trade and favours the Scandinavian design aesthetic.“For me it’s about incorporating a sense of light and nature into the home, while keeping it simple and uncluttered,” she says. Becks has used layers of texture, natural elements and a simple paint palette to create a real sense of homeliness and warmth.
Her favourite space to decorate was the master bedroom, where she has used a combination of calming natural tones that create a restful haven. “I love knowing that everything in the room has been chosen for its quality,” says Becks. “I’m a huge fan of linen and it appears everywhere in our house, from sheets and duvets to cushion covers and curtains. Not only does it wash well, it always looks and feels robust and earthy.”
Her neutral palette flows through to the children’s bedrooms where art, textured furnishings and pots of greenery add life and colour to their spaces.
The Luca family have lived in their new abode for about eight months and they couldn’t be prouder of the new home they’ve built. There’s work still to be done, but no house is ever truly finished.
“We are now making landscape plans to include subtropical planting, an edible garden with fruit trees and herbs, and a designated area for composting,” says Becks. Sometimes when dreams come true, we miss having something to wish for – is that true for Becks? “As daydreams go, we’re living ours and we couldn’t be happier!”
Words by: Annick Larkin. Photography by: Helen Bankers.