The heart of mat­ters

An un­fore­seen twist led these first-home builders right back to where they be­long.

Homestyle New Zealand - - HOMES - WORDS Alice Lines PHOTOGR APHY Dun­can Innes

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...

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