Waiheke Island
Floor AreA
185 sqm

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Waiheke Island

Into the blue

There were many decisions Shelley Cooper-Jones and her husband Chris had to make when building their holiday home overlooking Waiheke’s Pie Melon Bay, but the roofing material was not one of them.

The couple, who own a roofing company, had that one sorted from the get-go. Matte-black metal-tray (Spanlock Eurostyle) waterfalls down to clad the entrance and living form of the dwelling, too. It’s strong, smart – and clearly contemporary on the triangular roofline visible from the road.

When they bought this Onetangi section eight years ago, it already had a cleared building platform and, well, that incredible arc of white-sand beach below. Shelley imagined a long, narrow house strung along the ridge, akin to a Box™ project in Mangawhai she admired – a crisp, elevated pavilion with a circular skylight punched into the roof of the covered deck. But design manager Tony Borland-Lye soon steered her right: the steep site called for a different approach.     

This is a home that doesn’t rush the punchline. From the street, it presents as single level, small and bijoux. It’s only when you walk across the entry bridge and a rectangle of aqua sea and cliffs is framed beyond the front door that the realisation starts to build that this will be something special.

And it is. The open-plan living area and master suite on the upper floor boasts immense connection to place: as the two-level home steps down with the land to the bedroom zone below that feeling of being at one with the environment is ever present.

Before building, the Jones’s had transported a container house on to the site with the idea of enjoying pared-back summer holidays. “It was a mission to move it on with a crane, but it proved far too hot. We stayed three nights in it altogether,” recalls Shelley.

Experience taught them they wanted lots of transparency countered by good ventilation. Although they worked in the industry, they also favoured an all-in-one design/build team, so they didn’t need to project manage themselves.

This dream site needed compromise. “A lot of the things I had in mind weren’t practical. I initially wanted a horizontal house and three levels, but Tony talked me out of that,” says Shelley.

Although she didn’t anticipate being involved in the day to day, there were occasions she felt impelled to step in. When the local planning office held up resource consent, she actively chased it up. Not without good reason: “If we had been able to start building a year earlier, the house would have cost 30 per cent less.”

Designing the interiors was a high point though, particularly the showstopper kitchen, which Shelley and Box™ design lead Tim Hogarth put together. “Tim is wonderful – nothing is too much trouble. We’d chat about an idea, and he’d go away and produce some fancy drawings so I could visualise it,” she says.

Deep-blue cabinetry to evoke a coastal feel combines with antique brass fittings, an island front in woven criss-cross metal and a beautiful Florim stone benchtop. “We have that product in our house in town and it’s 100 percent everything proof,” laughs Shelley. “You can spill a curry and it wouldn’t absorb the colour.”

There were still more learning curves ahead to negotiate, however. Building post-Covid on an island wasn’t plain sailing. There were issues with costs as products became unavailable or more expensive. “Things go wrong, and you have to choose something else; I definitely had my moments.” One supply problem meant the Abodo they had ordered 10 months prior to clad the master suite was delayed. “It was so disappointing. There were tantrums,” says Shelley. She went off and found something new.

Finally, though, once the physical house began to take shape, the path ahead became smoother. Now Shelley’s angst is a memory – “I’m all smiles”. It’s difficult not to relax when every room has such a spectacular outlook. Banks of louvres and lazy ceilings fans ensure occupants keep their cool including on the north-east covered deck where there’s a cook’s fireplace and a backdrop guaranteed to blow any worries away. The couple enjoy entertaining usually with a wood-smoked side of salmon or Scotch fillet often on the menu and the scullery keeps the culinary zone clear and streamlined.

When it’s just Shelley and Chris in residence, the bottom storey can be closed off, so their zone feels like an apartment: “When I tuck myself in there, if I park in the garage no one knows I’m there; I’m very social but I love that I can slip in unnoticed.”

She also likes the lock-and-leave aspect (“With no glass roadside, it’s very secure”) although arriving here is always better than departing. There’s not much to beat waking to a sunrise as the light changes on the water to reveal a vista all the way out to Colville. Unless it’s relaxing in the lounge surrounded by the soft greens and blues of an interior decorated to reflect the sea and the sky. Or perhaps sitting on the deck in the evening, glass in hand, as the lights of the boats in the bay twinkle on one by one.

This holiday home is available to rent through Waiheke Holiday Homes. Search Kingfisher Blue.