A desire for "something a bit different" saw Ingrid and Matthew Buchanan looking backwards rather than forwards when it came to planning their family home in Kaipara Flats.

Textile designer Ingrid, who likes 70s style, describes the result as vernacular.

The house was built a few years later than its mid-century retro vibe would suggest, but it has all the qualities of the era that the family wanted.

It was designed by a local architect whose brief was to come up with a plan for a north-facing house with lots of natural light, warmth, and an open plan living area.

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Functional and simple were other requirements.

"And I wanted it to nestle into the landscape, not to be a blot on it," Ingrid says.

The family was living in Wellsford where Matthew worked in a bank, so they had a bank house.

"But we were looking for a property," Ingrid says. "We'd been looking at land around Matakana and Leigh, and then we came across to Kaipara and were taken with the wetlands and the bush here.

"We also liked the feel of the Kaipara Flats community."

They wanted rural land but nothing as large as a farm. When they came across this 2.4ha block they loved it for its fine views, native bush and wetland.

The house is, as planned, unobtrusively tucked in at the end of a native tree-lined driveway.

The open plan living/kitchen/dining area, which is the hub of the house, has a studio wood burner, and french doors opening to a paved patio.

The master bedroom also opens up to the patio, which is a favourite spot for outdoor living with a barbecue at one end and a pizza oven, built by father and son, at the other.

The boys had the luxury of their own bedroom wing with a rumpus area adjacent.

Ingrid and Matthew chose corrugated Colorsteel for their cladding, and sourced recycled joinery from the Trade and Exchange magazine for the windows and doors, and rimu for some of the flooring.

A splashback of bright orange tiles in the kitchen follows the 70s theme and there are other clues throughout the house, such as the timber ceiling beams, the upholstered window seats and the bespoke timber bookcases in the living room. Interior design elements such as mid-century textiles, light fittings and furniture pull the style together.

The design of the house has worked so well that in the 21 years since it was built, they've never changed anything, other than adding a small porch.

However they did build a separate, self-contained studio where Ingrid has worked on her textile designs.

"It's really nice because it has an upstairs area which was originally for the kids, and its own bathroom. So now it has scope as an Airbnb," Ingrid says.

Apart from big, flat lawn areas where the boys played cricket, the land has been largely planted in low-maintenance natives.

There's an orchard and a garden, room for grazing, and a protected wetland in the valley which encourages birdlife.

"I've always been passionate about this house — it has such good bones — but there's only two of us now so we've decided on a change," Ingrid says. "We're going to buy my family's bach so we can keep it in the family, and be closer to the sea."

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