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This clever couple have built their dream home in Northland by balancing cost effective materials with architectural style. We get the details on their new-build tips Best lessons learned?Don’t sweat the small stuff – some of the thin...

This clever couple have built their dream home in Northland by balancing cost effective materials with architectural style. We get the details on their new-build tips

Best lessons learned?Don’t sweat the small stuff – some of the things I freaked out about during construction I don’t even notice now. Oh, and newly painted walls and small people are not compatible – we learned that the first time around!

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What would you never do again?Have my hubby build our house while we’re both working full time, and with young kids. That is way too stressful to repeat.

Any DIY disasters?Definitely lots of thorough problem solving, but no disasters.

One thing you would change about your home if you could?Louvre openings on our west-facing bedroom window.

Most memorable experience you have had in your home?Our first Christmas spent here with our family was pretty special, as was sharing the house with the lovely team from YH&;G!

The build cost was around $550K, excluding cost of land, external works and landscaping. Kitchen: $28personalized toys,000 Bathrooms: $10,000 each Annwen Thorne: “We saved a lot because Kane worked full time on the build for six months and after that at weekends/evenings. We spent our contingency but haven’t had to go back to the bank yet!”



Annwen Thorne, spatial and interior designer, Kane Thorne, builder and project manager


“Whangarei Harbour and the coastline have always been part of our lives,” says Annwen. “Kane is a keen surfer and has spent a lot of his life on the water, sailing, fishing and surfing. We were already living in Parua Bay, in the first house we built together, when we started looking for another section in the area where we could build our next house.”


Afternoon light floods the living room, making it the perfect spot for Annwen’s latest vintage find – a 1970s cane lounge chair, which she has layered with cushions and throws from Wallace Cottonand Father Rabbit.



“I’ve always been drawn to casual, relaxed and practical spaces, and I like my hometo feel comfortable and easy to live in”


Add colour and warmth to a neutral interior with vintage rugs in warm shades and natural textures.



The second level consists of a main living area running from the northern side (where the kitchen splashback window looks out over a terraced grass area) to the southwest side, where a more formal living room gazes across the harbour.



Annwen has designed bespoke pieces for her home, including a built-in plywood headboard in the main bedroom which creates a ledge for displaying artwork and objects.



Hang a length of dowel from two ceiling hooks then drape a length of fabric overit for an instant bed canopy.



The bathroom tiles are laid in an unexpected ‘stack’ pattern, rather than the traditional offset style, creating a distinctly modern feel.


Counter the boxy feel of a small space with round accessories, tapware and basins.


The family moved in at the end of last year and have been putting the finishing touches to their home. Now, it feels complete and Annwen, Kane, Bella, Pippi and Lennox are enjoying the result of their three-and-a-half-year journey from breaking ground to ‘all done’.


Create a functional outdoor room by adding festoon lights, cosy textiles and inviting occasional furniture.



Floor plan

View next gallery: These forward thinking parents designed their home for the ‘;teenage years’; View Gallery

Words?by:?Tina Stephen.?Photography by:?Helen Bankers.

Have your kids or students make an adorable little Easter keepsake – let them paint their hands and make a bunny handprint art.

St. Patrick’s Day is on March 17! Are you ready? Some people may not consider this Irish holiday to be that major but our research shows that nearly 122 million Americans (39% of the population) say they celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. 83% of us wear green, 34% make a special dinner, 31% attend a party, and 25% of us decorate our homes or offices. St. Patrick’s Day spending reaches up to $4.14 billion in America alone! I think it’s safe to say that St. Patrick’s Day is no small holiday. This makes us wonder though, how many of us really know why we celebrate this March holiday? I am happy to say that has the 411 on good ol’ St. Patty’s day and I’m here to share it with ya! Patrick was originally born in Britain, not Ireland. He was kidnapped at age 16 and sent to Ireland as a slave. He eventually escaped but later believed that he’d been called to spread the word of God, so he went back to Ireland. Patrick was successful in bringing Christianity to Ireland and was said to have baptized 12,000 people in a single day! Patrick eventually died but his name lived on forever! Now we celebrate all over the world by turning everything green. We aren’t very sure where the color green plays a role in this holiday but hey it’s fun! How much green you ask? About 40 pounds of green dye are used to turn the Chicago River green.

Valentine's Day. AP Photo/Anjum Naveed

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