In this “un-trends” issue we celebrate homes with classic style, homeware that won’t date and secrets of timeless design
Seasoned builders say goodbye to the country and craft a bold contemporary home that makes the most of its riverside setting
It was the chance to live overlooking water that sold experienced home builders Mark and Melissa Prosser on a Merivale site that came with house plans and a ringside seat over a tributary of the Avon river, the Wairarapa stream. That, and just over 2000sqm of space to play with in a private location within spitting distance of Hagley Park and central Christchurch.
“Having lived in the country for many years, we do like our space,” Melissa says. “This is our third build in 22 years and both of the previous two were in Ohoka.”
The house that used to occupy the Merivale land was demolished after being damaged beyond repair in the Canterbury earthquakes. Its owners sold the land with plans for a new home. Mark and Melissa saw much to admire in the sturdy architectural design by Sheppard & Rout, although it was a big shift from the traditional country homesteads they’d built before.
So they made some significant changes to put their own twist on the contemporary home. They added cedar soffits, replaced an indoor pool with an outdoor room, split a huge living area into a family dining area and a media room, and swapped out a lounge space downstairs for a guest bedroom and bathroom.
“We really just changed it to suit our lifestyle as a family,” Mark says, adding that it’s a fantastic city base for their children Jessica, 22 and Alex, 20. “Jessica works on the other side of Hagley Park, within easy biking distance. Everything’s so close.” >
The couple say it has felt like home from the moment they moved in last June: “We had Jessica’s 21st birthday here before we’d even put in the furniture,” says Melissa. “It was a great way to spend that first weekend.”
Mark has been in the building business for more than three decades and Melissa is a chartered accountant with a flair for project management. Together they run Mark Prosser Builders, so this project allowed them to use the skills of their team to create a home that Melissa describes as “so private and relaxing for us as a family”.
Their city retreat is ideal for outdoor living, with a tennis court, swimming pool and decks overlooking the river. >
There are lovely views from the upstairs balconies and plenty of space for the family and visitors, with five bedrooms, four bathrooms, a powder room and an office.
When it came time to decorate, Mark and Melissa put their faith in Christchurch interior designer Ben Lewis of Trenzseater, a process that took some courage.
“I’m a person who doesn’t like to let go and this really took me out of my comfort zone, but we knew Ben was one of the best in the business,” Melissa says.
“We had some debate over things like the finish on the sideboards but agreed on most things. Your house needs to reflect the way you live and I think Ben has really captured that for us.”
The interior is layered with interesting textures and materials – an expansive marble wall features an innovative new material called Neolith by CDK Stone that means the finish can flow through the home to the exterior. In July, the interior was named as a finalist in the SBID International Design Awards 2018.
“It is an interior designer’s dream to be able to put together something like this,” says Ben. >
Melissa loves the sheer functionality of the kitchen she helped create with Ben and joiner Richard Hill.
“We’re busy people with sporty, outdoor kids. I also like to have things that will last for a long time.”
The couple often start their day with breakfast on the sunny riverside. “The best seat in the house is right here,” says Mark, “sitting on the deck drinking coffee in the morning.”
THIS PAGE (from top) Dark chocolate, coffee and cream hues are blended in the guest bedroom, finished with a Henri buttoned bedhead. An Eichholtz table lamp by the bed.OPPOSITE (clockwise from top left) The home’s marble theme is continued in the master bathroom. New Ravenna tiles have been used in Alex’s bathroom: “We love how they run along the floor and up the walls,” says Melissa. The master bedroom suite upstairs, with a tailor-made velvet bedhead, Eichholtz table lamps, Ralph Lauren cushions and a soft fur throw.
THIS PAGE Mark bought the peacock sculpture by artist Sarah Clarke at a whisky tasting night; Melissa says the family has come to love this symbol of protection and eternal life; the house is included in the St Margaret’s College House and Garden Tour on 28 October.