Your Home and Garden - - Front Page -

Art is a vi­tal part of Doug and Shel­ley McConaughy’s life – they col­lect it, Shel­ley cre­ates it and their home is an ex­ten­sion of it. So when Your Home and Gar­den vis­ited them re­cently, it wasn’t a sur­prise to find the fam­ily Christ­mas tree adorned with a de­light­ful col­lec­tion of hand­made trea­sures. Equally un­sur­pris­ing is that this cre­ative cou­ple opted to sell their re­cently ren­o­vated villa in or­der to build a brand-new home.

In early 2016, Shel­ley and Doug bought a five-acre block on the out­skirts of Dunedin. Part of a work­ing farm right up un­til the time of sale, the site was still fenced into three pad­docks when the cou­ple took pos­ses­sion. Just a few months later, in Septem­ber, the prop­erty, which had not a stick of plant­ing on it and pos­sessed breath­tak­ing har­bour views, be­gan its jour­ney from blank can­vas to stun­ning con­tem­po­rary home.

With Doug’s back­ground as a struc­tural en­gi­neer and artist Shel­ley’s nat­u­ral flair, com­bined with a wealth of house-build­ing ex­pe­ri­ence (the pair have clocked up an as­ton­ish­ing 11 new-builds and one ren­o­va­tion), the McConaughys de­cided to de­sign their new home en­tirely on their own. That’s right – no ar­chi­tect and no draughts­man, just a blank piece of pa­per and their joint cre­ative pow­ers.

“We de­signed ev­ery­thing from the floor plan to the cladding; from win­dow place­ment to in­te­rior de­sign. Even the coun­cil con­sent lodge­ments were done by us,” says Shel­ley. They were also keen to build a home that ex­ceeded cur­rent build­ing reg­u­la­tions for in­su­la­tion and ef­fi­ciency. “When con­sid­er­ing a new-build, it’s im­por­tant to think about fu­ture­proof­ing – such as in­stalling an elec­tric car plug out­let and choos­ing fit­tings and fin­ishes that will last the dis­tance,” she ex­plains.


The build took six months and the fam­ily lived in their for­mer villa home in Dunedin while it was un­der way. Not sat­is­fied with sim­ply de­sign­ing their home, the cou­ple also de­cided to project man­age the build, de­spite be­ing well aware that the role would re­quire mak­ing daily – and of­ten dif­fi­cult – de­ci­sions on-site. But they weren’t daunted by the prospect and thor­oughly en­joyed the whole build­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

“We tried to help out on-site as much as pos­si­ble – to­gether we laid the cork floor­ing and stained over a kilo­me­tre of weath­er­boards,” says Shel­ley.


Art is def­i­nitely the fo­cus of this im­pres­sive home. Clever light­ing has been used through­out to high­light beau­ti­ful pieces cre­ated or col­lected by Shel­ley. The colour pal­ette is earthy and nat­u­ral to en­sure the vast col­lec­tion of paint­ings, pho­to­graphs and sculp­tures are able to shine.

Shel­ley’s favourite de­sign fea­ture is the cin­der-block walls be­tween the lounge and din­ing area and the hall­way and older son Os­car’s room. Not only do they look beau­ti­ful and pro­vide an in­ter­est­ing back­drop, the blocks help to heat the home dur­ing win­ter.

“Just as stones soak up warmth, the cin­der blocks ab­sorb heat from the fire or the sun and re­lease it through­out the day,” says Shel­ley.

As well as be­ing de­signed with pas­sive heat­ing in mind, this home also takes max­i­mum ad­van­tage of its po­si­tion. Sun­light floods through huge win­dows which also frame views of rolling green pas­tures and the sparkling Otago Har­bour, cre­at­ing nat­u­ral art­works that can be en­joyed from ev­ery room.


Ev­ery year, the McConaughy fam­ily Christ­mas tree tells a story. “I have some of my grandma’s dec­o­ra­tions that she hand­made and I love that we think about her ev­ery year when we dec­o­rate the tree,” says Shel­ley.

The fam­ily also trea­sure trin­kets made by Os­car, 15, and his brother Eli, 13, when they were at Play­cen­tre and pri­mary school, baubles given to them by friends, and oth­ers that Shel­ley has made or re­paired. “Dec­o­rat­ing the tree this way is a lovely way to link some re­ally spe­cial times and peo­ple to us ev­ery year,” she says.

Christ­mas this year will be spent at home with fam­ily, many of whom will be trav­el­ling to Dunedin from around the coun­try and haven’t yet seen the fin­ished house. A white linen

table­cloth kept for spe­cial oc­ca­sions will be draped over the din­ing table and Shel­ley will for­age for green­ery to ar­range on top, along­side vin­tage deer or­na­ments, can­dles and fairy lights for a truly fes­tive feel.


Although the McConaughys show signs of new-build ad­dic­tion, they say this house may well be their last.

“We have a his­tory of build­ing, but this home is ab­so­lutely my favourite as far as lo­ca­tion, func­tion and form goes,” Shel­ley says. “We can never say never, but we have no in­ten­tion of build­ing again at this point.”

Christ­mas is sure to find this har­bour house look­ing its best, and Shel­ley looks for­ward to many more within its walls.

“We ab­so­lutely love it here. It’s peace­ful,

• beau­ti­ful and end­lessly chang­ing.”

> Find the things you love from this home on page 176.

TOP Over­sized win­dows frame the beau­ti­ful view. “I re­mem­ber stand­ing in the house once the frames went up and be­ing su­per-happy with the win­dow placements,” says Shel­ley. ABOVE Vin­tage ce­ramic deer add to a mid-cen­tury table.

TABLE Ev­ery year, Shel­ley for­ages for leaves, wild red berries and sea­sonal flow­ers to make a lush Christ­mas cen­tre­piece.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.