OUR COVER HOME WAS ONCE A PIGGERY
Alarge, stuffed boar’s head on a cakestand has pride of place on the dining table in Mandie Taylor and Dan McGovern’s home. Having “Uncle Albert” in their home and in such a place of prominence is fitting, says Mandie, given their abode is a former piggery.
The story begins nearly 40 years ago, when Mandie’s parents bought a block of land, complete with a piggery, 20km north of Tauranga. The land was converted into a kiwifruit orchard, and the piggery faced conversion number one: the roof was raised and a few lean-tos were added to stabilise it so it could be used as an implement shed. >
Meanwhile, Mandie and Dan were settled in Auckland. Dan, who was lecturing at Unitec, held Men Can Cook classes in his spare time and Mandie ran a cafe named Long Black and owned a catering business, Queen of Tarts.
Things were ticking along happily enough in their respective kitchens, until a friend’s terminal cancer prognosis was the catalyst for a sea-change. They knew they wanted to leave Auckland, but mulled over a variety of options, such as indulging Dan’s longtime truffle-growing fantasy or buying a restaurant in Rarotonga. Mandie’s mother, fearful of losing her daughter to the tropics, suggested they come home and take over the Pahoia orchard.
The idea of converting the former piggery into a home made sense to nobody, other than Mandie and Dan. It seemed even more nonsensical that they would need to construct a new shed to house the implements coming out of the dilapidated building.
But Mandie and Dan have vision by the bucketload, an appreciation of the charm of a history-laden building, and a quirky approach to life. They concede, however, that the former piggery was hardly pretty. Mention the 35 mummified rats in the ceiling and people get the picture, says Mandie with a laugh.
The intrepid house renovators slept in the piggery’s old office on weekends as they commuted from Auckland to tackle the transformation. As things progressed, they moved into one of the lean-tos that had once garaged the Massey Ferguson tractor. Fortunately, they found a creative local tradesman to share their vision and get stage one of the renovation trucking along.
Although they would eventually add an additional 125sqm, stage one involved doing up the old building.
“We kept the whole original 130sqm footprint including the concrete slab base and the board-and-batten exterior,” says Dan. “We bought second-hand wooden joinery to add to the stuff already here, some of it found in the rubble. We also poured concrete over the dirt floor of the tractor shed lean-to, and we relined the building with beech plywood oiled with linseed. Ceiling trusses had to be scribed in as none were straight.”
For two years, the couple lived with a kitchen, shower and toilet hailing from the 1970s piggery days. The toilet’s handbasin was super-small, says Mandie. Now, she has a large old concrete laundry tub as the new bathroom’s basin.
An outdoor fire area with pizza oven was created early in the piece because the kitchen was tiny and lacked an oven, and the sociable duo needed an entertainment area.
Stage two of the renovation meant calling in the builders, removing the old kitchen and bathroom and pushing the building out to add a master bedroom, swanky en suite, office, kitchen and dining area, family bathroom, laundry/boot room and outdoor bathroom. Timber from the land was used as beams and in the kitchen’s striking joinery, and is inlaid among the new concrete.
Wherever possible, building materials were reused. The old roofing iron has been used on the new implement shed. An abandoned triangular window is now at the gable end of the home’s “grand hall” – where the pigs once lived. Concrete posts from those pig-pen days remain, as Dan and Mandie relish touches that remind them of the building’s origins.
The property includes other sheds: two inhabited by two of their three sons, Jake, 29, and Tom, 27. The old kitchen was transported to Jake’s shed and Tom scored the toilet door for his music studio. Should son Max, 24, ever return, the former piggery now includes two spare bedrooms.
THIS PAGE (clockwise from top left) Mandie and Peppe Le Poo in the master bedroom; the doors ensure the room captures the morning sun and open out to the spa; a lap pool will one day be located nearby. The deck off the kitchen/dining area is the latest project to be completed. The chair in the master bedroom was a vintage shop find and the dresser a gift from Dan’s mum.
OPPOSITE Mandie and Dan’s home – the old piggery with extensions: “You just can’t build what we’ve got. It is full of memories, and is just magic,” Dan says.
There’s also another riverside house, soon to be a bed and breakfast, where wooden French doors and floor joists have been repurposed. This suits Mandie’s vision, as she’s keen for the B&B to reuse as much as possible from the piggery.
Dan credits Mandie with adding much of “the magic”, as he calls it, to their new home. A cello case and the furs draped over chair backs, couches and dressing tables are the results of regular op-shop fossicking. The numerous doll body parts, plus the taxidermy guinea fowl, all have their genesis closer to home: Mandie’s mother Pattie was a porcelain-doll maker, and the guinea fowl residing on a window ledge used to roam outside.
There’s more fun ahead. A lap pool is planned, and a studio for Mandie and Pattie, who are launching a foliage-growing business. Jake’s large shed will one day become a wedding venue.
The gardens are currently getting attention. Dan’s built a dovecote and raised vegetable beds have been established – with a dual purpose. When Mandie and Dan say this is their forever property they mean it: they plan to rest eternally in those flourishing beds. ■
THIS PAGE Mandie and Dan are both foodies and the dining area, where this issue’s cover was shot, is a favourite part of their home; keeping them company are Peppe Le Poo, a wheaten terrier, and Bear Dog, a cross-breed.
OPPOSITE (clockwise from top left) The new bathroom features a laundry tub that was found on the property; the cabinet is mahogany and was a second-hand shop find. The doll in the bathroom came from a friend’s vintage shop. Mandie wanted a timeless look in the kitchen and informal dining area; eucalyptus gum milled from the orchard was used for the kitchen joinery.