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The alchemy of architecture & daily life

Wairarapa Cottage

10 December 2017

Building your first home on a tight budget with an Architect on board can be a daunting prospect for many, but for one of our clients this was an opportunity to carefully tailor and design the house around their lifestyle, sustainable values, and needs as a family. We were introduced through our respective blogs at the time, and a shared love of beautiful clean design (a virtual introduction of sorts). Only later we discovered that we shared friendships with their extended family - New Zealand is indeed a small place! We worked alongside Alison and Gregor to develop a concept that met both their brief and their budget, as well as ensuring it sat naturally within the landscape of their Wairarapa site.



Alison and Gregor design and make accessories for the home under the label ‘Prospect and Rye', and you can find them on Instagram. Gregor built the house himself, as well as making bespoke interior timber furniture and external macrocarpa landscaping details. Shelving throughout the house has been made using recycled timbers, and the dining table was made from old scaffolding planks. Alison is a talented fine sewer, and in her light filled studio she works with beautiful natural fabrics. Antique french linens have been used throughout the home,  the cushions and hand sewn lampshades were also designed and made by Alison. 

wairarapa dda




I asked them a few questions about the build and their favourite features.

What were your two top priorities for the build when you started the project?

"Our first priority for the build was that it didn’t go over budget. We knew that we were wanting a lot for our money but believed that we could achieve that if we were willing to have an open mind along with the ability to compromise. We researched every aspect of the build thoroughly and were able to produce a realistic budget plan. We actually came in under budget.

Our second priority was that the new build reflected who we were as individuals and as a family. In keeping the design simple (two separate gable ended buildings joined by a lower roofed atrium),  we were in danger of producing a building without soul. However, by using materials such as tongue and groove for accent walls, carefully placed skylights, cork flooring to add visual texture and pale wall colouring with a touch of warmth,  the end result was exactly what we envisaged. It’s wonderful having a home designed and built around how you live as a family."




What are your favourite features of the home now it is built?

"The light in our home in incredible. Lisa designed the house for winter warmth and we love how the sun heats our home even during the coldest of Wairarapa days. The layout works so well in the living wing.  It allows us to read, cook, watch movies, play and work separately but still be together. Alison’s studio also needed to be a part of this space but by raising the floor level, it has created a degree of separation between home and work."

How do you find the house enables you to have a sustainable lifestyle?

 "The design of the house, being built for winter sun, means that we don’t use as much firewood during winter as the concrete pad holds the heat and releases it throughout the evening. Being fully insulated with thermally broken double glazing ensures that our home is always warm and toasty. We love having a kitchen garden outside and space to grow our own herbs, fruit and vegetables."



It has been such a pleasure collaborating with this talented couple to build their dream.  The home has a wonderful calm feel to it, and fits well within the landscape. We look forward to following their label Prospect and Rye, and seeing the beautiful home accessories and designs they make here to share with others.


Interiors, Furniture and Construction: Prospect and Rye, Wairarapa.

Architect: Lisa Day, Donnell & Day Architecture

Photography: Elizabeth Goodall

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