Basketwork, rattan pieces and plants in every room lend a soft boho touch to the no-fuss surfaces in this super-practical, eclectic home
Sometimes, opportunity presents itself when you least expect it. Just ask Jecasta South and her husband, Pat. The couple moved to Rangiora seven years ago, after their Christchurch home was ruined in the 2011 quakes. They eventually built a house there, designing it themselves and spending months scouring salvage yards and Trade Me for demolition building materials.
“We wanted an industrial, eclectic look,” says Jecasta of the 260-square-metre design. But it turned out that the project chewed up most of their time and energy. “We were spending every evening and weekend finishing it. We loved it but it was high-maintenance and took for ever to clean!”
Then Pat landed a job as a sales manager for New Style Homes and suggested they downsize to one of the company’s new-builds. “I wasn’t convinced because we’d put so much energy into building our house,” says Jecasta. “But when I saw the plans, I knew a low-maintenance, minimalist space built by someone else would not only provide financial freedom, it would also give us back precious family time.”
Change of plan
The couple opted for a 219-square-metre home with four bedrooms, two bathrooms and a media room in a new subdivision across town. Pat was able to project-manage the build, which started in December 2018 and finished five months later. The Souths made a few minor tweaks to the plans, including getting rid of a study nook (which increased the size of their butler’s pantry), adding oodles more storage and a built-in laundry.
“When you have four children and two pets, you need to do a lot of laundry,” Jecasta says. “Having a dedicated laundry space, rather than just a washing machine plonked in the garage, makes my life so much easier.”
This is the third house Jecasta and Pat have built together, but in the past they’d been hands-on with painting and tiling, whereas this time their only responsibility was choosing the colours and fittings. This left Jecasta with more time to tackle the fun task of designing the interiors. In a departure from their previous homes, she went for a neutral palette of grey, black and white, which was repeated on the exterior too. “We also opted for grey carpet and tiles, because they’re really forgiving with kids and animals,” she says.
Because of the high stud and larger scale of their previous house, most of the Souths’ furniture was too large for their new home, which meant Jecasta got to pull out her wallet for the brown and black leather sofas in the sun-splashed family room. True to form, she chose sofas that were both on sale.
“I’m really conscious of saving as much as I can and tend to only buy things secondhand or on sale. The brown sofa, for example, was down from $10,000 to $1900 at Nood, and even that was more than I’d normally spend.”
Evidence of Jecasta’s keen eye and bargain-hunting instincts is evident throughout, from the vintage school stools she found on Trade Me (now clustered around the kitchen island) to the $18 picture frame from The Warehouse that makes the poster on the kitchen wall look as though it was professionally framed.
Jecasta’s style runs the gamut of mid-century modern to industrial, stopping off at vintage on the way. You’ll find 1960s rattan headboards and Crown Lynn swans mingling with sleek black lighting and A&C Homestore concrete stools that she has repurposed as bedside tables.
While Jecasta was happy to keep the walls in the children’s three bedrooms neutral (eldest daughter Onika doesn’t live at home), when it came to the generous master bedroom, she was keen to include more texture.
One way to do that was by installing sheets of tongue-and-groove-look plywood behind the bed. “The plan was to paint them white, but then I decided I quite liked the grain so we ended up whitewashing them,” Jecasta says.
In the adjacent walk-in wardrobe, she also added a wall of open shelves, where bins hold items such as T-shirts and jeans. “It looks so much better than a cupboard and you can find everything more easily.”
Jecasta says the key to wrangling a husband, four kids and two pets is to have a place for everything – and to make sure all family members know where that place is. “Using jars and baskets helps in the pantry, while in the laundry it’s all about maximising storage space. It helps that we haven’t been in this house long, so we haven’t had a chance to accumulate too much clutter!”
Green-fingered Jecasta was unhappy she couldn’t bring a lot of the larger indoor plants from her previous house (“they were just too big for this space”) so she’s turned her attention to the garden, planting olive and feijoa trees around the edge of the lawn.
She’s also in the process of levelling a space in the far corner of the section for a crafting studio. “I do a lot of upcycling and crafting and currently my stuff is scattered all over the place. It will be great to have a dedicated space where I can make as much of a mess as I want.”
This house has proved such a hit with family and friends that Jecasta’s sister is building a home in the same style in Christchurch. “She loved the flow and practical aspects of our house so she’s going down the same route, with a few tweaks, such as a higher stud in the entrance and more sliding doors to maximise space, which we probably should’ve done too.”
Not one to sit still, Jecasta has now turned her attention to the interior of the bach they are building at nearby Waikuku Beach. “It’s just about finished so I’m starting to plan the interiors and scouring Trade Me and secondhand shops for bargains to furnish it with. That’s the bit I really love.”
Words by: Sharon Stephenson. Photography by: Sarah Rowlands.