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

Your Home and Garden - - Contents - Text by Monique Balvert-O’Con­nor. Pho­tog­ra­phy by Rachel Dobbs.

This cre­ative pair ful­filled their dream of build­ing a fam­ily home at Waihi Beach


> 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.


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.


> 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.”


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.

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