After years of renovating villas, designer Rachel Newnham loved the freedom of a new build in Grey Lynn.
"It's nice to build fresh and be able to create big spaces without the constraints of old villas," she says. "But we have an affinity for this neighbourhood and wanted something that responded."
She and partner Cameron Ireland teamed up with architect Jack McKinney to develop a striking home on the former Bethany Home site.
"Jack's tuned into our architectural programme," explains Cameron, "and we wanted to build a house we'd like to live in."
As the first of seven new homes on the nearly 0.4ha site, the timber-clad house sets the tone for architectural excellence. Although modernist, the design took cues from the surrounding bungalows.
"We didn't want a concrete box. The cedar is softer and textured, more like weatherboards."
Those vertical cedar boards are randomly layered, emphasising the casual layering of the house forms. "Even the slatted fence reflects traditional pickets," says Cameron.
Cameron was influenced by the minimalist style of Brazilian architect Marcio Kogan. "I love the cantilevers and floating spaces," he says. "It's all about the strong materials - concrete, steel."
Hidden steel beams enable the dramatic cantilevered master bedroom to float above the north-facing deck. In the adjacent living area, an elegant steel column supports the corner when massive sliding doors are open.
The simple palette of materials creates a luxurious calm, anchored by the polished concrete floors (heated, of course). The polished vertical Kwila lining the entry and hallway provides a transition from the exterior's rough cedar.
"The staircase is a real feature," says Cameron, pointing out the simple steel balustrade and sculptural timber risers.
As the mother of three boys, Rachel relished including a generous laundry with tons of storage. "Imagine piling in from the garage and dumping dirty sports gear," she says.
The carefully designed kitchen was another chance to go all-out on storage, as well as double doses of Miele appliances.
"We've always wanted a scullery to hide the mess," she says, "and there's even a second dishwasher."
The thick marble benches and glossy black cabinets - from Kitchen Visage - ensure the kitchen is the glamorous focal point of the two living areas. "I always tinker with the design," admits Cameron. In this case, he added an under-lit coved ceiling in the family living space, complementing the dramatic steel chandelier.
"We always use ECC light fittings," says Rachel, while Cameron adds that they went with a mid-century vibe in the copper and glass pendants in the living room and stairwell. Oversize glass sliding doors soundproof the second living room.
The covered terrace becomes the sunny third living area, flowing to the easy-care landscaped lawn. The heated pool's stone waterfall terminates the long view from the front door.
Upstairs, the combination of stylish luxury and practical planning continues. Three spacious double bedrooms have fitted wardrobes - with sandblasted glass doors - and tree-framed views across the neighbourhood. Even the luxurious bathroom's walls are sandblasted glass, admitting light and privacy to the compartmentalised shower, toilet and oval tub.
The over-size polished stone tiles are repeated in the skylit master bathroom with its three separate showerheads. No villa could compete with the walk-in wardrobe, nor the master bedroom's expansive views across Grey Lynn Park to Sky Tower.
"We've already designed the next door house to work with this one," says Cameron. This pocket of inner-city infill is destined to be a 21st-century architectural showcase.