Living’s design columnist Ben Crawford has been busy. Next week sees the launch of his new book, Built for Caffeine, which aims to inspire home design through incredible cafe fit-outs. Here is an extract from the Beatnik-published book

Little King Cafe

The name of David Lee's new cafe, Little King, comes from a warm, fuzzy place. On one level, it's a tribute to his two-year-old son; on another it's a humble expression of his ambitious intentions.

And aspiring he is. David moved from Korea a decade ago. Discovering the beauty and authenticity of the Kiwi cafe culture, David decided to be part of it. He worked in a number of cafes before establishing his own five years ago, Ben Gusto in Browns Bay, fitting it out with a rustic, antique aesthetic.

In Little King, David wanted to do something different to reflect his current design style. Entering the renovation, he had the overall style in place but no fixed plans because he knew the old building would be full of surprises. Luckily, he found only gems, using them brilliantly to anchor the cafe.


Behind plasterboard he discovered the original concrete wall intact and spent two days scraping it back. Beneath the carpet, he again found concrete, which he ground and polished. When restoring the ceiling to its original height, he unearthed beautiful tongue-and-groove panelling, adding character to an often forgotten surface.

David then decorated and furnished the space to create diverging dynamics, serving the purpose of defining zones, but adding interest and forming varied atmospheres in every corner. Hence the industrial mixed with vintage, timber with steel, flowers with concrete, tiles with blackboard paint.

And that wall. Oh, that wall. It's David's memory of the Korean town he left as a child, brought to life by a professional artist based off a basic sketch David did.

While humble, David is building quite the kingdom. And, if the competition for table space since opening in March is any indication, his loyal followers agree.

Little King Cafe, 132 Kitchener Rd, Milford, Auckland

Built for Caffeine is available nationwide at all major booksellers and Freedom Furniture stores. Next Saturday, November 9, Ben will sign copies of Built for Caffeine at these

Freedom Furniture stores:

• 11-11.20am - Wairau Park
• 12.30-12.50pm - Newmarket
• 2-2.20pm - Mt Wellington


Living has three copies of Ben's new book, Built for Caffeine, worth $49.99 each, to give away. To enter, visit and enter the keyword Caffeine along with your details. Entries close 11.59pm on Wednesday, November 6.

A winner's thoughts

Congratulations Alice and Caleb. After walking through the houses, I can see why their home sent the auction room into a frenzy.

It was charming from the street, packed full of their amazing designer touches and had the largest outdoor area.

However I was surprised by how much they won by because there wasn't that much differentiating each of the four properties.

I think their house sold for a premium, benefitting from the competitive nature of the two bidders who clearly didn't want to succumb to their adversary.

Alisa and Koan's place sold for a fair price, I reckon, but the other two houses were a steal.

Neither sold for more than our house did over a year ago, despite the huge increases in values over that period and the fact their homes were almost twice the size of ours.

There are do ups in the area selling for not much less than what those highly spec'd homes sold for, so I feel gutted for Loz and Tom and Pete and Andy.

If you're contemplating entering Series 3, do it. Despite the results, I'm sure all of the teams would tell you the same thing. You won't regret it.

Ben Crawford won The Block NZ last year with sister Libby and runs creative advertising agency Libby and Ben.