The Needham family spared no expense when they designed and built this spacious home, which departs from the average new-build template
Meet and greet
Todd Needham, Kylie Needham, both owners of TN Electrical, and their daughter, Blake, 4, plus Rosie the cat.
This Rototua new-build shows what’s possible when space is no object
Kylie and Todd Needham are consummate creators of beautiful homes. Their new house near Rotorua is their tenth to date and the first new-build, although it is unlikely to be their last. The Needhams don’t get attached to their houses, Todd says, and “forever home” is not in their vocabulary. But this 457-square-metre house with striking views of the landscape around Lake Rotorua isn’t too shabby a place to call home for now.
With previous projects including a large, colonial-style house and a lake-front homestead, the Needhams have tried their hand at all sorts of renovations and have altered their decor style to suit each, says Kylie, who is passionate about interior design. Moving from renovating to building seemed a natural progression and it was time to give a new-build a go. However, it was never going to be a run-of-the-mill house. “We don’t like normal,” Todd says.
Kylie and Todd approached their architect, Jason Douglas of Millennium Architecture, with clear ideas and sketches. Jason wasn’t exactly instructed to be economical with space – the house sits on a 6000-square-metre site and there was “no need to cram anything in”, Todd says, hence the masses of storage, generous passageways, and room for daughter Blake to have her own ensuite and walk-in wardrobe.
The house contains three wings. The guest wing, featuring two bedrooms and a bathroom, can be separated from the main living area via cavity sliders. The master bedroom and Blake’s room comprise another wing. Double doors shut off a third wing which houses the office, media room, laundry and access to the spacious garage. At the heart of it all is the open-plan main living area.
The plan was always to maximise the view from integral parts of the house. The master bedroom, family room, main living area and guest bedrooms all open out onto a 35-metre deck – a perfect vantage point from which to enjoy commanding views of Mt Ngongotaha and Lake Rotorua. But clever design ensures other areas of the home also enjoy the view.
The different segments of the house are linked by glass-walled sections. Approach the front entrance, for example, and walls of glass offer a view through the guest-wing hallway to the lake. Another glass-walled link can be found by the master bedroom, enabling a view from the internal courtyard through the hallway to the city and lake beyond. This design feature adds to the openness and ambience of the house, Kylie says.
Kylie was keen for the house to feature an industrial feel with a 1970s vibe. The industrial influence can be seen in the polished concrete floors, the scaffold-like office shelving and some of the lighting. Examples of ’70s style include conduit lighting in the bedrooms and the chunky spotlights in the hallway outside the master bedroom. Adding to the nostalgia are peacock bedheads, crocheted rugs, a Seth Thomas kitchen clock, original boomerang tables, genie glassware, geometric string art (in the dining area) and crockery from this era. Other decades are represented in the 1920s chandelier in Kylie’s dressing room and a 1950s wheelbarrow and scooter in the living area.
These details are mixed in with more contemporary pieces – such as the Kartell Ghost chairs at the dining table – and intriguing, unexpected items like the deer-antler chandelier from Sweden. “I do like a mix of things and that includes taxidermy, although it grosses a lot of people out,” Kylie says. The foyer is home to many of the se critters – a bat, an armadillo, a duckling and a frog skeleton. There was a stuffed gecko, too, but the kitten took a fancy to that. Reindeer and possum furs also feature.
Kylie says she acquires things for her house from a variety of places such as antique stores, EziBuy, Farmers, expensive design stores and secondhand shops. “Style doesn’t have to be dictated by price but I’m not into reproductions. I’d rather go to the secondhand store and get the real, old leather suitcases, for example.”
Todd says he and his wife are “pretty particular” about the details of their homes, and this one was no different: Gas infinity boxes on the exterior of the house are powdercoated and the heat pumps painted to match the house. The power points in all the bedrooms, the kitchen and scullery include USB outlets.
Bling in the walk-in-wardrobes. Kylie enjoys her 1920s chandelier, and a smaller version illuminates the dress-ups and clothes in Blake’s wardrobe. Drawer handles are Swarovski crystal. Taps are fitted into the mirrors above the bathroom’s vessel basins. Kylie is not a fan of tiled bathroom splashbacks, opting instead for large mirrors specially made to incorporate the taps.
Continuity is crucial. The engineered stone kitchen benchtop is repeated in all bathrooms, the laundry, media room kitchenette, and the master suite’s walk-in wardrobe. Similarly, the bedside tables and lamps in the spare bedrooms and master bedroom all match.
Words by: Monique Balvert-O’Connor. Photography by: Rachel Dobbs.