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Why this black-clad Taupo home was designed with two master bedrooms

On an idyllic outcrop with stunning views of Lake Taupo, this couple built a bespoke home perfect for their way of life. Get inspired with real-life tips for your own home journey with our downloadable new-build worksheet below

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We’ve all experienced that feeling of arriving at the top of a hill only to have our breath taken away by the view spread out before us. But after admiring the view, most of us have to turn around and walk away, back to our normal lives. Not so for Sharyn Dodds and Tony Moan, who beheld the view from Loch Eagles by Lake Taupo for the first time in 2016 and, one hour later, owned the property.

“We drove up the hill not knowing what to expect,” says Sharyn, of the first day she and her husband saw the site of their new home. “But it was love at first sight. We purchased within an hour of seeing it.”

We wanted a home with a classic design

...but that was unique to us

The couple had decided to build a home to suit their unique needs and settled on Taupo as an ideal location due to its centrality and ease of access for family members. “We know the area well and love the community, which helped with our decision,” says Sharyn.

1. Design

When it came to deciding between buying or building a home to share, the couple knew they weren’t prepared to compromise on any of their desires. “We had looked at other homes but had not found anything that met all our needs,” Sharyn tells.

An online search led them to Design Builders, a New Zealand company that specialises in architectural design and building. Sharyn and Tony met with Sam and Matt at Design Builders Taupo with lots of inspiration and that particular list of must-haves which included plenty of room for visitors, spacious bathrooms (and plenty of loos), an open fire – and an unconventional bedroom arrangement.

“We wanted a home with a classic design that would last over the years but that was unique to us,” says Sharyn. “And as my darling husband is a bad sleeper (my kind, gentle Tony turns into Bruce Lee when he is asleep!) we wanted two master bedrooms with a large interconnecting ensuite.”

Over many dinners, phone calls and visits to the Design Builders team, a vision for the couple’s dream home started to emerge. The plan was to create a large central living hub with high ceilings, oversized doors and plenty of windows to maximise the lake views, a double-master bedroom wing and a generous guest bedroom wing.

Sharyn and Tony wanted to spend as much time as possible on the design and planning phase so they could hand it all over to the Design Builders team for the duration of the build phase, which all got underway in September 2016.

“The planning stage was incredibly important for us as we were living four hours away in Orewa, so entrusted the build completely to our team.”

2. Materials

When it came to deciding on the materials they wanted to use in their home, Sharyn and Tony put themselves in the hands of the experts – the Design Builders team. “Product throughout the house was recommended to us by our builders and we trusted their recommendations,” says Sharyn. “We wanted products that would last and require minimal upkeep.”

To create a heritage feel inside the home, HardieGroove Lining was selected for its tongue-and-groove effect in the living area and entryway spaces.

The outside of the home was a different story. Due to the home’s location on a hilltop exposed to the elements, a truly durable solution was required to keep it snug. HardieFlex sheet cladding was chosen for its toughness and resistance to fire and damage from moisture and rot. This material in combination with James Hardie RAB Board, which provides structural strength, insulation and noise proofing, means the house is encased in a rigid air barrier system that protects it from anything the Lake Taupo weather conditions can throw at it for many years to come.

HardieFlex also came to us with a 15-year warranty. We chose to paint it black and are so happy with the end result. It looks stunning!” says Sharyn.

3. Decor style

With a style she describes as “classic and comfortable”, Sharyn has created a modern yet timeless interior that suits the couple’s lifestyle perfectly. Details such as stone benchtops and waterfall taps add a touch of luxury, but cosy corners for curling up with a book are easy to come by, too.

“I adore my window seat with its tongue-and-groove detailing, built-in bookcases and that fabulous view!” Sharyn says. Because despite being stylish and inviting on the inside, this home is really all about what’s happening outside.

“The outdoor space of this home, specifically the view, is extremely unique, which we love,” says Sharyn. “Our outdoor area was designed to make the most of the view. Our outdoor spaces themselves are still evolving and maturing but the grandchildren love to run all over the place.”

4. Future plans

Since moving in, the Dodds-Moan family have been rapt with their home and still get that special feeling when they come up the hill to Loch Eagles. “This house feels amazing from the minute you walk in the door,” says Sharyn. “It works so well even when full of grandchildren! Whether we stay or not really depends on my health. But for the moment I’m just loving being here. It’s a joy to live in.”

5. Your new-build worksheet

To help you on your own new-build journey, the Dodds-Moans family have shared contacts, finishes and hard-won tips and advice on budgeting in this handy, downloadable worksheet. Simply click here or on the image below to download yours now.

Sharyn’s tips for building a new home

  • Do your research on your builders and build trust with them
  • Follow their recommendations and remember, they know more than you do
  • Stick to what you want, it’s your house
  • Enjoy the process – the end result is so worth it


HardieFlex™ Sheet cladding

Low-cost and durable, HardieFlex™ Sheet requires minimal maintenance and resists both fire and damage from moisture and rot.

HardieGroove™ Lining

Ideal in semi-wet areas such as bathrooms, HardieGroove™ Lining also offers outstanding impact resistance so it retains its good looks for years to come.



Words by: Sally Conor. Photography by: Simon Wilson.

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