Big, bu­colic and be­spoke: the vi­sion be­hind that amaz­ing Grand De­signs home in Man­gawhai.

When in­dus­trial met rus­tic: a new build with big ideas uses re­claimed ma­te­ri­als from all over the coun­try


When one of Patty and Ge­off Co­ley’s builders told them he’d felt in­spired to in­cor­po­rate the out­line of a map of New Zealand into the bag­ging of the brick­work in the main liv­ing zone of their Man­gawhai hol­i­day home, they were ner­vous. “I thought it could look rather tacky,” says Patty. It didn’t. It’s so sub­tle that vis­i­tors en­joy­ing a cof­fee or wine at the kitchen bench sel­dom no­tice un­til it’s pointed out (to the left of the range­hood, pre­vi­ous pages).

But it’s no sur­prise the builder pro­duced some­thing so fit­ting. The se­cret to the suc­cess of this am­bi­tious project, in­sist the Co­leys, is hav­ing a great team and never veer­ing from the vi­sion. The process ran so smoothly that the crew film­ing for TV show Grand De­signs may have been a lit­tle dis­ap­pointed. There were no dra­mas or hor­ror sto­ries.

The lay­out of this house with its sep­a­rate gabled liv­ing and bed­room wings wrapped around a cen­tral court­yard may be classic but what el­e­vates it is scale, the qual­ity of the ma­te­ri­als and Patty’s flair for styling. Ev­ery­thing is big, bu­colic and be­spoke.

Ge­o­graph­i­cally, it’s not far from where the cou­ple used to hol­i­day. Phys­i­cally, it’s a gi­gan­tic leap.

“We used to kayak over to this piece of land we had our eye on from our per­ma­nent car­a­van site on the other side of the es­tu­ary,” ex­plains Ge­off. In De­cem­ber 2012, that piece of land, and the jetty they of­ten tied up at, be­came theirs.

Two Por­ta­com cab­ins (the for­mer site of­fice for the sub­di­vi­sion) be­came their hol­i­day hang-out while Patty gath­ered her thoughts – and a mass of clip­pings from mag­a­zines and Pin­ter­est. Hiring an ar­chi­tect to con­cep­tu­alise a de­sign was never on the ta­ble. Patty knew what she wanted: noth­ing pre­ten­tious – “no mar­ble bath­rooms” – just rus­tic hon­esty, with an in­dus­trial ware­house aes­thetic. They had a lo­cal ar­chi­tec­tural de­signer draw up her ideas and en­gaged a Man­gawhai-based build­ing com­pany. “We in­sisted on us­ing lo­cal peo­ple,” says Ge­off. “It made it eas­ier for them to be on site and we also wanted to be­come part of the com­mu­nity.”

With a line-up at the ready, they were itch­ing to be­gin. Four years later, the first spade broke ground. For Patty, it was a frus­trat­ing wait but it meant that by the time the con­crete floor­ing was poured (un­usu­ally, it went down first), she had al­ready sourced the ma­te­ri­als, fix­tures, fit­tings and pretty much all the fur­nish­ings for the home.

Hook­ing up with de­mo­li­tion ma­te­ri­als en­thu­si­ast Mike Ut­tinger was a game-changer. It was through Mike that the Co­leys sourced many of the defin­ing fea­tures of the home. >

The red brick was once the Real Groovy record store in Auck­land’s Queen Street, the door frames are re­cy­cled rimu from Whit­coulls Welling­ton and the mas­sive iron­bark trusses that form the soar­ing skele­ton of the open-plan liv­ing area came from the cap­i­tal city’s ferry wharf. “We knew that once the roof went on they wouldn’t change colour so they were left out in the sun of Mike’s yard to weather for as long as pos­si­ble,” says Ge­off.

The hefty trusses re­quired met­al­work to match. The pit­ted brack­ets that join the beams were orig­i­nally in the cyanide tanks of the Waihi mines and the bolts have new large steel caps so they are in pro­por­tion with the beams.

“To make them look old, it was my job to ‘blue’ them,” says Ge­off. So 1300 steel caps were con­sci­en­tiously put into chip bas­kets to heat up in a fire and then tipped into a drum of the dirt­i­est diesel oil he could get to seal them and make them darker.

Patty also got stuck in, rust­ing the front door and the 3.5m is­land bench. That bench was just one of sev­eral items – along with side­boards, dressers, van­i­ties, basins, lamps, or­na­ments and cop­per cook­ware – that was stored in a con­tainer ready to be moved into place as soon as the house was fin­ished.

“The spa­ces were de­signed around the fur­nish­ings,” says Patty, who has such an eye for de­tail that she only slipped up once. “I bought a head­board when I al­ready had a sleigh bed for the mas­ter bed­room.” >

Patty has no for­mal train­ing but years sourc­ing prod­ucts for the cou­ple’s hos­pi­tal­ity hire busi­ness has given her in­valu­able in­spi­ra­tion and ex­pe­ri­ence. The house looks the part on the water’s edge, with one builder call­ing the fin­ished prod­uct “a cross be­tween a Wanaka lodge and a boat­shed”.

In­side, the house eas­ily ab­sorbs the up­beat en­ergy of vis­it­ing friends and fam­ily (the cou­ple have six grand­chil­dren). When Patty, who is known for her Asian and Ital­ian meals, first cooked in the kitchen she thought she had made it too big. “It was like run­ning a marathon, gath­er­ing up all the tools and in­gre­di­ents.” Now she has learned to get ev­ery­thing out of the walk-in scullery first.

Liv­ing large may be a cor­ner­stone phi­los­o­phy of these party peo­ple but there are also many in­ti­mate corners to re­treat to: the hang­ing chair on the deck, a win­dow seat near the fire­place or the free-stand­ing French tub. On win­ter evenings, they snug­gle in­side and watch the spoon­bills poke about in the mud; in sum­mer the lawn is the per­fect place to sprawl.

“We have no re­grets about what we spent as we have ev­ery­thing we wanted and we love it,” says Ge­off. Patty agrees. “Would I do again? Yes. But not right now.”


Best build­ing ad­vice: In­clude the cost of com­pli­ance in the bud­get. All the safety re­quire­ments seemed never-end­ing. We had to pro­vide silt fenc­ing, scaf­fold­ing, hard hats and high-vis jack­ets for every­one on site. And when we wanted to bury the water tanks, what a per­for­mance. It all re­ally adds up. (Patty)

Get­ting through chal­leng­ing times: Patience, tenac­ity and a say­ing that our son had framed for us: “Never give up on some­thing that you can’t go a day with­out think­ing about.” (Patty)

Best thing about the lo­ca­tion: The bird life is fas­ci­nat­ing – there are larks, shags and spoon­bills. And we can kayak to the pub and over to our old car­a­van park to see friends. (Ge­off)

Ge­off and Patty Co­ley

THIS PAGE (from top) The steel por­tal is po­si­tioned to frame the view from the en­trance. There were many chal­lenges when build­ing, such as the in­clu­sion of pil­lar­less corners where the win­dows slide back and even achiev­ing the cop­per aes­thetic for the chim­ney: “We weren’t al­lowed cop­per so used porce­lain tiles in­stead,” says Patty; the ex­te­rior of the home is clad in Nu-Wall alu­minium, which mim­ics board-and-bat­ten but is durable in the salt air.

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