The heart of matters
An unforeseen twist led these first-home builders right back to where they belong.
WHEN YOU MARRY A CARPENTER, IT’S almost inevitable that you’ll build your own home one day. For newlyweds Clare and Simon Cato, that day came sooner than expected when they found themselves purchasing a piece of land in their coastal home town of Snells Beach.
“Simon has been bursting to construct his own home since the day he became a builder and began making homes for other people, just over a decade ago,” says Clare. “But it was quite by accident that we ended up building a house here.”
Having grown up in Snells Beach, Simon has always had an affinity with the area. Clare spent her childhood in Taihape, but when her parents sold their farm and moved to Snells Beach during her university years, Cupid stepped in.
“We got married here and lived on Auckland’s North Shore for our first year. Then my mum sadly passed away, which unexpectedly brought us back up to Snells •
Beach to live with and support my dad and younger sister,” says Clare. “We didn’t have a lot of money, but we knew that if we wanted to get on the property ladder we needed to buy quickly as sections were few and prices were rising.”
Finding a site that was within their budget and close to their families, they turned their attention to making the very best of their changed circumstances. After drawing plenty of sketches to help them nut out the configuration and aesthetic they wanted for their home, they engaged architectural designer Martin Harnish, who tweaked and polished their drafts. Over the next 14 months, they spent evenings and weekends chipping away at the project, saving their pennies by dossing down in a boat shed.
“After knocking off from our day jobs, we’d head to the site to tile, paint or lay flooring. Dinner was often late-night takeaways, and we’d have to drop in on one of our parents on the way home for a shower, because the boat •
ABOVE LEFT Clare and Simon like to linger in the kitchen over coffee in the mornings. ABOVE RIGHT The dining table is treasured for its sentimental value – it once belonged to Clare’s mother. Clare has teamed it with vintage chairs found on Trade Me...
ABOVE Houseplants are an essential for Clare, who incorporates them into vignettes in every room. LEFT This recessed area off the hallway was originally intended to be a cupboard, but the installation of an in-built desk has seen it become an office...