A sup­port­ive sis­ter­hood was in­dis­pens­able when mak­ing de­sign de­ci­sions for a Tau­ranga new build.

Cre­at­ing this new build which nes­tles into a Tau­ranga com­mu­nity was a group ef­fort


Liv­ing on the edge of a Tau­ranga pri­mary school field is a nat­u­ral ex­ten­sion of Lee-Ann Tay­lor’s daily life. The com­pany di­rec­tor and mother of two teenagers has spent years head­ing Par­ent Teacher As­so­ci­a­tions, man­ag­ing chil­dren’s sports teams, flip­ping sausages and mas­ter­mind­ing school fundrais­ers, such as the an­nual com­mu­nity fire­works event that bangs and pops over what is now her back fence.

“I love the lo­ca­tion,” she says of the house she and hus­band An­drew cre­ated along­side the St Mary’s Catholic School pool and cricket nets. “I love to be able to hear the kids laugh­ing and play­ing.”

The Tay­lor fam­ily also ap­pre­ci­ates the leafy, cen­tral city spot, the Tau­ranga har­bour views and ex­cel­lent neigh­bours that in­clude the nuns next door. Daugh­ter Bella, 17, and son Toby, 15, learned to kayak in the es­tu­ary they can now see from their kitchen and liv­ing room win­dows. >

Ar­chi­tect Fraser Cameron was asked to cre­ate a hand­some, mod­ern home that did not sprawl and was re­spect­ful of the wellestab­lished neigh­bour­hood. Care­ful thought went into us­ing ev­ery part of the site, and most spa­ces within the three-bed­room, 230sqm home serve mul­ti­ple func­tions or can be adapted for al­ter­na­tive uses in fu­ture.

The car­peted garage is fit­ted with a com­fort­able pull-down bed so it dou­bles as a spare room, and the sculpted white kitchen is­land can be a com­mer­cial-length bar, a food prepa­ra­tion or lean­ing area, a ban­quet ta­ble, a home­work desk or a ca­sual din­ing zone. On the ground floor, the teen lounge is also ideal for en­ter­tain­ing, with its con­crete floors and stacked slid­ing doors open­ing onto a walled court­yard with a swim­ming pool. Even the main floor bath­room is clev­erly de­signed to pro­vide both a mas­ter bed­room en suite and a guest pow­der room, di­vided by a cav­ity slider.

And it is built with the fu­ture in mind, mind­ful of teenage par­ties and the empty-nester lock-up-and-leave years, right through to el­derly ail­ments that might re­quire lift ac­cess to the up­per storey.

“This house can be many things but, at the end of the day, it’s not much big­ger than a lot of town­houses,” says Lee-Ann. “It is a home built for us, not for re­sale, and it’s ab­so­lutely the op­po­site of any house I’ve ever had.” >

She says all their other houses have been full of colour – turquoise and pinks, whole walls of colour – but this one’s about ro­bust el­e­ments. “The bones are neu­tral but it’s still warm and strong.”

Af­ter meet­ing in Lon­don more than 25 years ago, the fash­ionlov­ing Aus­tralian girl and truck-mad Bay of Plenty boy opted to live in his home town so he could ease into the fam­ily’s trans­port busi­ness, Tay­lor Bros. He is now man­ag­ing di­rec­tor. Ini­tially, LeeAnn con­tin­ued to work in high-end cloth­ing stores.

The cou­ple’s first home had strong school ties, too – bought from An­drew’s for­mer pri­mary school teacher in Katikati. LeeAnn launched into a rev­o­lu­tion­ary home ren­o­va­tion in­spired by the cobalt blue and vi­brant yel­low decor she had seen in Eng­land. “Lots of colour and fab­ric and tex­ture: it was rad­i­cal to paint rooms in bright colours back then,” she says.

Sev­eral years later, peo­ple were sim­i­larly shocked when the cou­ple painted the ex­te­rior of a sub­se­quent house teal green with cobalt blue trim. “Are you ab­so­lutely sure?” the pain­ters asked. >

“I’m a be­liever in what makes you happy, what sets your heart on fire. I’m not afraid to step out of the square. I do feel peo­ple’s pain though. Build­ing or ren­o­vat­ing a house is a huge in­vest­ment, so of­ten peo­ple don’t want to get it wrong; they’re al­ways think­ing of the re­sale value.”

She is quick to give credit to the skilled con­struc­tion team, but Lee-Ann is adamant her bold choices are thanks to back­ing from a team of fe­male friends and pro­fes­sion­als. One en­cour­aged her to use cop­per sheets on her bath­room wall, an un­con­ven­tional op­tion for a wet area. Oth­ers helped con­vince du­bi­ous trades­men to cre­ate dis­tressed cop­per sur­faces, or pro­duce sam­ples of six dif­fer­ent tex­tured brick­work fin­ishes.

“I had this core group of women who were my go-to peo­ple,” says Lee-Ann. “They gave me con­fi­dence, sup­port, ex­per­tise. Some were friends and some were be­ing paid but they all went above and beyond and in­jected so much pas­sion into mak­ing this a re­ally beau­ti­ful space.

“Build­ing a new home is ex­cit­ing but it’s hard, too. I read re­cently there are 10,000 de­ci­sions to make in a new house and I don’t care what peo­ple say, that can’t be done on your own.”

Eigh­teen months af­ter mov­ing in, the Tay­lor fam­ily has set­tled in nicely. “When it’s brand new you some­times try to keep ev­ery­thing too per­fect when, re­ally, it needs to be a home. Now it’s feel­ing great – like home.”

THIS PAGE Thin sheets of cop­per were glued onto the wooden doors that hide the of­fice, tele­vi­sion, cen­tral vac­uum fit­tings and more in the liv­ing area: Lee-Ann’s motto is a place for ev­ery­thing and ev­ery­thing in its place; an ar­chi­tect friend helped source the hand-beaten cop­per cof­fee ta­ble; oak flooring by Hur­ford Whole­sale is used through­out the up­per storey. OP­PO­SITE (clock­wise from top) Care­fully se­lected cowhide and teal vel­vet were used to cre­ate the over­sized mod­u­lar liv­ing room sofa cus­tom-made by Fur­ni­tureWorks. A win­dow seat tucked into a sunny cor­ner of the liv­ing room of­fers wa­ter views and an ideal spot to stretch out with a book. Lee-Ann, An­drew, Toby and Bella Tay­lor in their tree hous­es­tyle din­ing and en­ter­tain­ing room.

THIS PAGE (from top) Leather couches down­stairs will with­stand teenage vis­i­tors and the odd damp swim­mer; Lee-Ann couldn’t find a macramé wall hang­ing that she wanted so her friend Lisza whipped up one. An an­tique Chi­nese drum sits along­side planters that help con­nect the gar­den to the ground floor liv­ing area.OP­PO­SITE (clock­wise from top left) Toby’s room fea­tures a mus­tard yel­low vel­vet head­board. The home’s cop­per theme started with the hand­made mo­saic glass tiles on the bath­room wall. Os­borne & Lit­tle Flamingo Club wall­pa­per in the mas­ter bed­room. Lee-Ann found the wood and pressed sil­ver dresser about 15 years ago and drove it home from Hawke’s Bay in the back of her car; it’s now on the top land­ing in front of a Casamance Gre­nat wall panel from West­bury Tex­tiles.

THIS PAGE (from top) The din­ing area on the up­per level pro­vides shade for pool­side loungers be­low. Pre­cise join­ery de­sign max­imises views yet min­imises heat loss, lou­vres cre­ate the all-weather deck space and the garage dou­bles as a cosy spare room.OP­PO­SITE At the front en­trance, Belco Homes builders took great pains with the de­tails, like en­sur­ing all the cop­per nails in the cedar were neatly in line: “I take my hat off to all the trades­men like our site fore­man Chad Grif­fin who lis­tened and made it hap­pen for us and gave his heart and soul to the project,” says Lee-Ann.

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