When you discover something you love, it’s only natural to go back for more. That’s why Helen Osborne, having bought a Box™ house that others had developed, decided to design her sometime-retirement home with the company, too. It wasn’t just that she was drawn to the style of the new build in Kohimarama that she moved into two years ago, she also grew rather fond of the team.
“I’ve always liked the sleek, minimal lines of Box™ houses so when I saw one for sale, I was pretty excited,” she explains. The property was located on the front of a sub-divided site and the vendors were building two houses with Box™ – one to sell and one to keep. That’s how Helen, who co-owns GO Rentals, a rental car business, got talking to the team. “My place was finished first, so the builders were still next door.” When she had a problem with a door that wouldn’t close properly, she called them in. It was the start of a beautiful relationship. “They came round to show me how to lift the handle to seal the door and were so helpful. In a new house, there are always going to be a few issues; living on my own, these things can be a bit daunting.”
For the next eight to nine months, while they were completing the neighbouring project, the builders were also available to Helen. They popped in to discuss the shared driveway; they swung round when final components (such as where the letterboxes would go) and the installation of the electronic gate had to be organised; they even helped when there was an errant nail sticking up that Helen needed sorting. “Nothing was a problem, and their communication was excellent. My expectation was for builders to be gruff and not to listen, but they were friendly and down to earth – a breath of fresh air,” she says. It wasn’t just the tradies and subbies that made a positive impression, so did co-founder of Box™, Dan Heyworth, when he came to chat about another project that suddenly came within the realms of possibility.
Helen was so thrilled with the spatial flow of her 250-square-metre Kohimarama home and the abundance of north-west light, and the fact it was so warm and cosy, that this lived experience where unfussy style combined with practical comfort got her thinking. While she found the 1920s teacher’s cottage that she owned in Surfdale, Waiheke charming and cute – it certainly wasn’t cosy. “I would never have considered doing a design and build if I hadn’t lived in a Box™ house. It wouldn’t have crossed my mind.” After having decided to build on the island, talking to Dan got her imagination fired. She’d long harboured the idea of a New York loft and now it seemed feasible. Working with the design team, they conceptualised not one, but two small barns, with an interlinking section that made better use of the site. Helen found the collaborative approach enriching. Inside, they added a mezzanine area that Helen’s rather smitten with and, when she indicated that she didn’t want a house that was the same colour as everyone else’s, the interior designers, Josh and Kate, came up with idea of two different coloured barns: one clad in black, the other white.
This much is for sure, when the dwelling is finally built, Helen’s favourite colour – yellow – will spread its sunshine throughout. Every room is set to have a touch of it. With resource consent now granted, that’s another step in the right direction. Having the support of a wraparound team has given her the confidence to put her ideas into practice. And the future looks bright.