Moving on up
Designing and building their ultimate family home in Waihi Beach was the realisation of a long-held vision for this creative couple
This creative pair fulfilled their dream of building a family home at Waihi Beach
MUST-HAVES (AND NOT-NECESSARIES)
> An expansive deck (100 square metres, in fact) was essential to provide play space for the children, as was the inclusion of an outdoor fire. The deck feeds off the main upstairs living area, and its magnitude was important, Mel says, as she didn’t want the children to feel confined. A substantial portion of it is covered, making for an excellent play and entertainment zone.
> Plenty of accommodation including four main bedrooms, two bathrooms, an ensuite and a rumpus room (which also functions as a guest room) – perfect for a family of five.
> Non-standard bathrooms. The ensuite floor tiles resemble wooden planking while the downstairs bathroom features frequently commented-upon tiles that look like aged weatherboard. Concrete tiles were used on the floor in the children’s bathroom and also form the walls of the Japanese-inspired bath.
> John was keen for a house that stands out, “not like a house in Lego Land”. The couple opted for an exterior featuring a mix of stone block and black Linea and Titan boards.
> No walk-in wardrobe. John believed the space could be put to better use, so the couple have an entire wall of wardrobes instead.
> No carpeted stairs from the front entrance to the living area. Mel loves their architectural staircase with wooden treads.
BUILDING THE DREAM
John and Mel Kaczon’s Waihi Beach home isn’t their first new-build, but they think it’s their best. So much so that it might well be their forever home. The couple had their hearts set on a house in Bay of Plenty’s Waihi Beach for many years but it took some time to get there.
“Waihi Beach was always where we wanted to bring our children up,” Mel says. “We searched and researched and decided on the subdivision at Maranui Estate – it was close enough to the beach, but far away enough to be safe. It was also walking distance to the shops, schools and restaurants.” Using the same architect and builder they’d used for their previous new-build in Athenree, the couple drew up plans for a fun, future-proofed family home with heaps of storage. In 2015, the foundations were finally laid on their dream site with ocean views.
The home has been designed to grow with its youngest inhabitants, with plenty of spill-over space and bedrooms that can be reconfigured to give the children more privacy. At present all three kids sleep in rooms feeding off the main upstairs passageway, with the two girls sharing a bedroom. However, the room downstairs, currently housing gym equipment, has been earmarked as son Miller’s future bedroom. The large rumpus next door, with ranch sliders opening into the carport, will be perfect for gatherings of teenagers.
Mel owns and runs Koru Florist & Home in Waihi and says she learned early in her retail career that you don’t buy everything you love and bring it home. Or at least, you try to keep the shopping under control. “It’s absolutely true that lots of pieces have made their way home!” she says. These include carved skulls, a leather butterfly chair, tin wall planters in the entranceway, and some of the artwork adorning the walls.
However, it’s not just Mel’s shop that has influenced her decor. A pencil sketch of her mother, who passed away in 2016, has pride of place in the lounge. Mel loves that her home includes many items inherited from her mum and nana. Vases, items in the china cabinet and an old lamp are some of those treasures.
Mel was keen for the main living area to have a “loft look” and feels the area is a mix of industrial and mid-century styles. Wood adds a rustic ambience, used most noticeably in the kitchen shelving, benchtop and the Mel-designed, attention-grabbing light above the kitchen island.
“I got the wood from a friend’s farm and had it water-blasted and dried,” she says, referring to the major component of her light. “That piece of wood nearly got put in the skip by the builders a few times. People thought I was crazy but I got the look I wanted, thanks to other friends who did the metalwork and the electrics.” The wooden dining table was the first piece Mel and John bought together and the mismatching metal stools at the kitchen island were sourced direct from a supplier.
White walls (Dulux ‘Sea Fog’) provide a blank backdrop in this home. John and Mel’s previous home featured plenty of colour, which Mel has mixed feelings about. “I got bored with the colour quickly, but now I look at photos of the old house and think, ‘Oh, that was so yummy!’”
Prettiness rules in Janina and McKenna’s room. Mel styled the room around the pinks and peaches of a ballerina picture on the wall which was her mother’s and her nana’s before that. The girls think the history of the print is pretty special – it reminds them of their nana’s house.
An equal amount of attention has been paid to Miller’s room with its grey, white and yellow scheme. “Miller is a keen rugby player who has been sitting on the fence over whether to follow the Hurricanes (his dad is from Wellington and is a ’canes fan) or to be loyal to his district and support the Chiefs. The yellow and black fits with both. Plus, he now has his idol, Richie, in a massive painting in his room,” says Mel.
MEL AND JOHN’S HOUSEBUILDING TIPS
> Take time to communicate properly with your builder. We received great advice from ours along the lines of “Here’s a way you can do this for the same effect but less cost”. It was invaluable.
> Take your time to think about things. Mum’s death made us slow things down and we rethought a few of our decisions as a result.
> Don’t be afraid to speak out to your builders and contractors.
> If you have a vision and you have faith in it, stick to it even if others can’t see where you are going (the wooden light fixture in the kitchen is a case in point). > Be prepared for some tough decision-making. We found choices were easier with our last home. Now there seems to be more great product around.
“Landscaping is absolutely worth investing in,” says John. “It’s worth every penny to get a quality result.” The couple were keen to create several different outdoor zones that felt good and wanted lowmaintenance landscaping that worked for both children and dogs.
Gabion walls were used to create terraces, timber was chosen for the distinctive fencing. “The thinking behind the fence was to create an area where the kids knew their boundary, but it was still open, so we came up with the idea of posts at different levels and diameters,” says Mel. “We also left a gap big enough to future-proof for boat storage. It creates a talking point for sure and definitely adds character.”
OUR PIECE OF PARADISE
This home is the product of a long journey but the Kaczons feel sure it will carry them through to the next phase and beyond.
“We have been in our home for close to two years and there is nothing we have found yet that we wish we had done better,” says Mel. “We have had many happy occasions when the house has been bursting at the seams – it has been so fun having family and friends around. Even the view is more than we bargained for! We just loving coming home at night to our piece of paradise.”
KITCHEN Mel chose a sliding barn-style door for the pantry as it fits with the loft theme she envisioned for the kitchen and dining areas.
OUTDOOR LIVING There is no shortage of outdoor spaces to lounge in due to the careful thought Mel and John put into their massive deck and various garden areas.