A dated A-frame right on Papamoa Beach was the perfect project for this creative couple, who have transformed it into a nostalgic holiday retreat
Meet + Greet
Rachel Dobbs, 33, Jared Dobbs, 33 (both photographers at Swift & Click), Charlise, 14, and Joy, 2.
It’s been a while since A-frame homes were all the rage. While they were everywhere in the 1970s and ’80s, these distinctive abodes have since been thought of (by some) as C-list real estate. However, photographers Rachel and Jared Dobbs have an eye for a bargain and, while hunting for a second home that could also supply an Airbnb income, the Mt Maunganui couple were delighted to discover a classic A-frame by the beach at Papamoa in the Bay of Plenty.
“We love A-frames, we wanted to be close to the beach and we like Papamoa,” says Rachel. “The house is super-quirky and authentic, and we felt instantly nostalgic when we went inside. It reminded me of the bach we used to go to sometimes when I was a kid.”
After baulking when the real-estate agent suggested they tear it down, the pair purchased the home and began planning how they would bring it up to date.
They opted for a balanced approach that would retain the building’s retro, Kiwiana feel while bringing it up to a modern standard. As well as replacing the roof and windows, they spent a big chunk of the budget on landscaping. They had a deck built over the old-fashioned front garden and lawn laid all the way to the fence, while a breeze-block wall was added at the side.
“As the renovation progressed, we realised how much we valued the uniqueness of the house, so we wanted to stay true to its design while giving it a new lease of life,” says Rachel.
Light and Brighter
Although the A-frame wasn’t intended to be a family home, at least to start with, Rachel and Jared wanted to modernise it.
The interior was given a fresh coat of white paint to brighten it up. Next, the couple tore down a half-wall to create an open-plan kitchen and living space. In its place, they built a breakfast bar on a decorative breeze-block base, which not only links to the wall outside but also fits perfectly with the retro charm of the kitchen with its open shelves and original yolk-yellow splashback.
Apart from these changes to the kitchen, the couple left the interior in its original state in order to keep their budget under control. After all, they told themselves, it was bought as a holiday home.
“The house has interesting character and the nostalgia factor, with a homeliness that makes you feel okay about actually using it,” says Rachel. “It’s not trying to be a bottle of Champagne; it’s like a good mid-range rosé that you want to enjoy every day, and it knows that.
“There’s something appealingly unpretentious about that.”
Hunting and Collecting
Since she knew the house would be rented out on Airbnb for some years, interiors-obsessive Rachel decorated it with a charming, yet low-maintenance, mix of new and vintage objects, furniture and soft furnishings.
“Rachel just loves op-shopping and she’s a bit of a low-key design nut,” says Jared. “I just do what she says, so in came the plants – a lot of plants. After that, came the 1970s furniture, the ’70s nostalgia (like the gumball machine and the arcade game), and books including piles of old National Geographics and one about toilets of the world.”
Candlewick bedspreads, rattan and bamboo furniture, and retro kitchenware were some of the other results of Rachel’s searches. Her advice to novice op-shoppers is simple: keep looking, and slowly collect the things you love the most.
While some might have prematurely consigned A-frames to the architectural trash heap, the Dobbses are on a mission to preserve theirs. While the house now functions as a popular short-term rental, (book your stay at airbnb.co.nz) Rachel and Jared are already looking ahead. There are plans to renovate the rumpus room next and get its 1970s spa up and running.
And although they bought it as a holiday home, they can now see themselves and their two daughters calling it home in the not-too-distant future.
Words and styling: Tina Stephen. Photography: Helen Bankers.