Leonie and Jan Huisman's favourite home is always the last home they've built. During their 51 years married, they've had five favourites — in Holland, Switzerland, Nelson, Christchurch and here in Northland.

Their latest is the culmination of their dreams, built on land in two titles that overlooks Waipu Cove. This home reflects their lifestyle and a little of each of their other homes, from their native Holland to New Zealand where they moved to in 1981.

The Dutch connection is the fireplace here. The Swiss connection is the view across the sea to the mountains. The valleys remind them of Richmond in Nelson and the northern aspect reminds them of New Brighton in Christchurch.

Leonie and Jan bought here in 2007 to be closer to their son in Auckland. Out looking for a building site, they stayed at a local motel and discovered the owner had land for sale.


They bought both titles, engaged David Reid Homes to create their home and then moved back into the motel for 14 months to oversee its construction.

As seasoned homebuilders, they knew what they wanted and they came to the design meeting with a handful of box-style sketches for the architect.

978 Cove Rd, Waipu Cove. Photo / Supplied
978 Cove Rd, Waipu Cove. Photo / Supplied

"You can have lots of boxes but they have to become a house when you build it," says Jan.

This couple chose a single-level design to see them into their senior years. Now in their early 70s, they have enjoyed the expansive feel that extends outside beneath big eaves which keep the house cool during the summer.

"The only time the sun comes inside is in the early morning and the early evening," says Leonie.

Maintaining scale and proportion was important to Leonie who wanted the same big picture windows on either side of her single front door, rather than the more common double front door with smaller side windows.

On paper and on the landscape, this home is refreshingly uncomplicated — one brick, one tile, one neutral beige paint colour, brown granite in the kitchen and timber in the bathrooms.

978 Cove Rd, Waipu Cove. Photo / Supplied
978 Cove Rd, Waipu Cove. Photo / Supplied

Their choice of rustic, handmade bricks was confirmed with an Albany brick supplier but their order had to be shipped direct from the supplier in Perth, Western Australia, because of the quantity — "all 72 pallets of them" says Jan.

Leonie and Jan chose one floor tile for the whole house including the bedrooms and the separate, self-contained guest wing. They ran the tiles out into the transition deck areas where they can relax on their loungers or sit with a cool drink beside the garden.

"You have a feeling of space if you look out and see the same tiles on the floor right through," says Jan. Leonie recalled the importance of choosing a tile that wasn't too reflective.

"It would have been blinding otherwise. We saw this one and said, 'This is it.'"

978 Cove Rd, Waipu Cove. Photo / Supplied
978 Cove Rd, Waipu Cove. Photo / Supplied

Their instinct and experience paid dividends elsewhere too. They had just enough bricks and tiles left for the matching separate, sheltered 36 sq m garden room off the kitchen that was an inspired, unplanned addition at the end of the house build.

Their native garden is a favourite outlook on one side of the house. Leonie's floral garden near her garden shed is her own favourite spot.

This location has been perfect for them. They have neighbours not too far away, a beach 10 minutes away and Waipu township 5km down the road. "We're private, not isolated," says Leonie.

Now they're leaving to move into their first home built to another's design, in a lifestyle retirement village in Tauranga.

976-978 COVE RD, WAIPU
• 4 bedrooms, 3 bathroom, 2* parking spaces.
• House 469sq m, land 8.82ha.
• Tender: April 4.
• Inspect: By appointment.
• Schools: Waipu Primary School, Bream Bay College.
• Contact: Christine Birss, Bayleys, 027 235 4323.
*Plus carport