Character building A design-savvy couple stamp their distinctive retro style on their brand new Tauranga home
This quirky Tauranga new-build is proof that brand-new doesn’t have to be boring
MEET + GREET
Carly Ward, 37 (co-owner and manager of Nourish Cafe), Cameron Ward, 39 (general manager of clothing company You Know We Ain’t Ltd), Jackson, 9, and Mia, 7, plus Bruce the cat and Bella the dog.
IN PLAIN SITE
When Carly and Cam Ward first saw their Tauranga section in 2014 – just before property prices soared – they were baffled. Why was the large, sloping parcel of land, hugged by a lush reserve and with views of Tauranga’s northern inlet, still available, they wondered.
“We couldn’t believe the section hadn’t been snapped up,” says Carly. “But we could see its potential straight away.”
The couple and their two small children had outgrown a much-loved, character-filled 1950s bungalow and were “really worried” about the prospect of building new, even though it seemed like the right thing to do.
“I wanted to recreate the same feel [as the old house],” says Carly. “I like nooks and crannies, interesting spaces.” Her fears about not being able to make a home with character worsened when the builders the couple first approached showed them standard house plans, including brick-and-tile options which were entirely alien to their taste.
Then the Wards discovered Federation Homes. “They didn’t come with any plans; instead they offered a listening ear, visited our site and drew up plans,” says Carly. “They just got it and we love the result” – a 160-squaremetre home of white pine and weatherboard.
> One large wardrobe divides the kids’ bedrooms and can be opened on both sides to create one massive play area (the shelves and rails run widthways and only occupy each end of the giant wardrobe, leaving the middle clear to walk through). “It’s pretty cool and takes up no more room than regular wardrobes,” says Carly.
> The house may be new, but the front door is old. Carly and Cam found their 1930s villa door at a demolition yard, complete with kauri frame, distressed paint, leadlights and original doorbell. “It’s so pretty and I love the light it lets in. It provides a point of difference as it contrasts with the newness of the house,” says Carly. “The doorstep is also characterfilled. We love to think of all the people who have stepped over it. Now our family and friends will be part of that door’s history.”
> The dining room lights are a blast from the past. Carly spied them in an op-shop for $10 each and they are identical to the ones in her childhood home.
ROOM WITH A VIEW
The Wards moved into their new home early in November 2015 and, boy, does it make the most of those views. The open-plan living area features large, stacking doors on one corner that open up to a wraparound deck and the glorious view beyond. There’s plenty to look at, with the reserve below including little ponds, tributaries and wetlands, as well as boardwalks. The scene is especially gorgeous when the tide is in, Carly says, and the sunsets are dreamy.
Their section includes a fenced-off bank leading down to the reserve, which will soon become home to beehives (inherited when Cam’s mum passed away), fruit trees and other edibles, and a picking garden of flowers.
THE KIDS’ ROOMS
Mia and Jackson both enjoy bedrooms with loads of personality. Jackson’s room is creature-themed, with fish-identification charts, a vintage fish door knocker and a plastic grizzly bear (an op-shop win) at his bedside. He is the creative force behind a cross-stitch shark which he made at school. The messaging on the wall outside his room reads: “All good things are wild and free.” Lego and crystals also have their special place in his room.
A hot pink desk and a four-poster bed are the heroes in Mia’s room. Carly found Mia’s floral duvet cover in perfect condition at a garage sale. Her feature wall is covered in fruit salad stickers and bunting provides additional quirkiness. Both rooms have Himalayan salt lamps which emit a lovely soft light at bedtime.
Carly believes her decorative style is best described as “eclectic and positive”. “I began buying things way before we started building,” she says. “I trawl vintage markets and op-shops, as well as designer stores… I love anything quirky.
“I seem to have lots of pops of yellow, which wasn’t my intention, but maybe I’m just drawn to sunny items? I also have lots of green against white with all our plants – the great thing about white is that you can’t go wrong with other items. It all works.”
Cam plays an active role in decor choices, too, bringing back little items from his business trips through China and India.
“We have quite a collection of Chinese propaganda posters now, and strange little statues he finds at back-alley markets. His other main input is Steve the stag, who now resides in our kitchen. He was a congratulatory gift from a friend after Cam completed his MBA last year – the high ceilings really lend themselves to something big on that wall, and Steve is big!”
Cam’s mum was a collector of beautiful things such as plates, vases, books and anything to do with beekeeping and nature. “Many of our items have stemmed from her collection,” Cam says.
Even though their home is new, the Wards have already imbued it with soul, and Carly likes to use positive affirmations in artwork and signage to inspire her family and friends.
“We have a large ‘welcome’ sign at the front and inside is the message ‘All is well with my soul’. A cross-stitch in the master bedroom says ‘We rise by lifting others’ and the dining room art says ‘Live your life in colour’.” This is one family home with a colourful life ahead.
ENTRY, DINING, LOUNGE This new house was never going to contain only new
objects – the reclaimed leadlight front door (above) offers a hint of the eclectic vintage furnishings within.
KITCHEN CRUSH The kitchen is one of Carly’s favourite zones. “The black sink and tap add something different – add some drama. I think it looks very sexy,” Carly says.
TOTALLY TUBULAR Carly loves cooking so she wanted her stovetop to face the room and the views beyond. “We had to get a little creative with the extractor fan,” she says.
JACKSON’S ROOM Bruce the cat is far from fazed by the wildlife in Jackson’s room. The children enjoy their separate spaces but also like the fact that their double wardrobes open up to create one big room.
MASTER BEDROOM, BATHROOM A standard bedside table was never going to cut the mustard in the master bedroom.
Left Carly found the retro bathroom mirrors and a first-aid cabinet in op-shops.