– cre­at­ing a so­phis­ti­cated at­mos­phere in St Mary’s Bay with a sim­ple pal­ette of grey and white


This slick, con­tem­po­rary Auck­land home in white

and grey tones is an en­ter­tainer’s dream.

Nes­tled among the villa-lined streets of St Mary’s Bay, sits a house that sub­tly de­fies the Auck­land sub­urb’s sense of his­tory. The con­tem­po­rary glass and con­crete struc­ture built by Ian Web­ster and his part­ner Jianni Fel­pas is all stylish white fur­ni­ture and straight lines, which should come as no sur­prise given Web­ster’s pedi­gree as the founder and for­mer owner of the Verge women’s fash­ion la­bel.

“The house is a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Jianni and my­self. We al­ways had a strong vi­sion, we wanted sim­plic­ity, we wanted clear and un­clut­tered,” says Web­ster, who since sell­ing Verge last year has be­come a trustee of a char­i­ta­ble trust and is “look­ing for­ward to what­ever the fu­ture brings”.

Prior to finding their cur­rent spot, the cou­ple lived in a tra­di­tional board and bat­ten house in Herne Bay. They de­cided it was time for a change and be­gan perus­ing prop­er­ties in the lo­cal area and neigh­bour­ing St Mary’s Bay. Each time they found a house that ex­cited them, they put in an of­fer but had lit­tle suc­cess ini­tially.

“We went through three at­tempts at buy­ing but none of them worked out,” re­calls Web­ster.

Then, while he was on a work trip in China, Web­ster re­ceived a call about a vacant piece of land for sale in St Mary’s Bay. When he re­turned, the cou­ple went to look at the plot. “As soon as we ap­proached, we knew it would be an in­cred­i­ble place to live,” he says.

The duo had a fairly free rein when it came to the kind of house they could build on the 680 square me­tre sec­tion. The only con­di­tion from the coun­cil

The house was de­signed around the kitchen and out­door pool area, which are lo­cated on the up­per floor to make the most of the city views.

The Frank sofa and Frank square ot­toman from B&B Italia pro­vide space to re­lax, while the con­crete floor in the liv­ing area is soft­ened by the Mov­ing Moun­tains wool rug from De­signer Rugs. The din­ing ta­ble and chairs were de­signed by An­to­nio Cit­te­rio and are also from B&B Italia.

was that the house must be in keep­ing with the ‘grain’ of the area. As far as de­sign went, they knew what they didn’t want. “We didn’t want a bun­ga­low or colo­nial look. We al­ways wanted some­thing more mod­ern and con­tem­po­rary,” he says. “Some­thing us­ing a lot of glass and wood, and some­thing that could nes­tle into the hill with­out look­ing too harsh. We re­ally just wanted the new place to hang to­gether, be easy to live in and ul­ti­mately un­com­pli­cated.”

They chose An­drew Pat­ter­son of Pat­ter­son As­so­ci­ates as the ar­chi­tect for the project. Pat­ter­son had clear ideas about how the prop­erty could make the most of the views and Web­ster knew he had made the right choice. “An­drew is a great visu­aliser, he’s got an amaz­ing team be­hind him and they’ve got a great build­ing team too,” he says.

Weekly meet­ings on-site meant the cou­ple were in­volved in ev­ery stage of the build process. This, says Web­ster, was rel­a­tively stress-free, de­spite the dis­cov­ery of a well which re­quired a pump to be in­cor­po­rated into the build to di­rect wa­ter into a drain.

“I’ve heard the hor­ror sto­ries, but we had a great re­la­tion­ship with the builders and we kept tabs on where we were at ev­ery stage of the project. There were no sur­prises,” he adds.

Three years passed be­fore the cou­ple were able to move into their new home, fol­low­ing the de­sign and plan­ning con­sent pro­cesses and the 18-month build.

“We didn’t want to com­pro­mise on any­thing, so we bought a place in West­mere while we were build­ing so we had some­where to live and wouldn’t feel like we needed to rush,” says Web­ster.

The West­mere prop­erty was sold once the cou­ple’s home was com­plete, and they couldn’t be hap­pier with the re­sult.

The main liv­ing quar­ters are on the up­per floor, which has an easy-liv­ing apart­ment feel with an open-plan kitchen, pow­der room, laun­dry, and mas­ter bed­room with dress­ing room and en­suite. The home’s bril­liant in­door-out­door flow is fa­cil­i­tated by ex­pan­sive doors lead­ing out to an en­ter­tain­ing area and pool. Down­stairs, there’s a bed­room, study, a sec­ond bath­room, and a sec­ond laun­dry. A lift and set of con­crete stairs al­low easy ac­cess be­tween the floors. “All the spa­ces work

Right: the bed and head­board in the mas­ter bed­room are by Po­liform.

Far right: a For­nasetti can­dle is dis­played un­der a bell jar. Be­low: the Tac­cia lamp in the guest room is by Flos, the pic­tures are by Aus­tralian artist

David Weir.

well to­gether, and we re­ally don’t have any spa­ces that we don’t use,” says Web­ster. Ini­tially scep­ti­cal about the need for ex­tra rooms down­stairs, he is now con­vinced, say­ing the study and spare bed­room “are used a lot”.

The lay­out of the up­per floor re­flects the cou­ple’s life­style and was de­signed around the kitchen and out­door area, which is where they spend most of their time when alone or en­ter­tain­ing friends. “When we were de­sign­ing the room lay­out, we were think­ing about how we al­ready lived, so the house fits us per­fectly,” he says.

When asked what they love most about their home, Web­ster quotes Grand De­signs pre­sen­ter Kevin McCloud, say­ing: “Good ar­chi­tec­ture makes you happy.”

“It’s a great house to live in,” he says. “There’s noth­ing we would change and noth­ing that has dis­ap­pointed us. I think when you build, you of­ten hope for the best but ex­pect the worst. But for us it was great.”

Web­ster used Auck­land-based in­te­rior de­signer Adri­enne Sea­ger for the home’s tex­tiles, and when he dis­cov­ered that Sea­ger’s hus­band is an en­gi­neer at Fisher & Paykel, he was happy to have them fit out the kitchen too. The look is tied to­gether by the use of con­crete in three fin­ishes: honed, rough sawn and pol­ished. “The in­te­ri­ors are very sim­ple re­ally,” says Web­ster. “Jianni and I knew what we liked and what we didn’t. We went with the clas­sics and took the style of the Barcelona Pav­il­ion as a start­ing point.”

Plush rugs, deep-seated so­fas, wooden floor­ing, and the pres­ence of minia­ture sch­nauzer Bex, all help to cre­ate a com­fort­able and wel­com­ing at­mos­phere. If proof were needed that min­i­mal­ist, mod­ern homes can also be warm and char­ac­ter­ful spa­ces, then look no fur­ther than this care­fully con­structed cor­ner of St Mary’s Bay.

When we were de­sign­ing the room lay­out, we were think­ing about how we al­ready lived, so the house

fits us per­fectly.

Right: large win­dows on both sides of the liv­ing area con­trib­ute to the seam­less in­door-out­door flow.

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