Style house feature: A suburban sanctuary

Strong design meets a eye for styling in this newly-built Christchurch home. Words Naomi Spinsby-Wild, Photography Charlie Rose Creative

Having lived in the quiet, leafy suburb of Merivale for many years, Jan and Garry Cliff jumped at the chance to build a property on the very same street they already called home.

In a rare opportunity, a house across the street from their own came up for sale, and the couple, already aware of how special the tranquil location and north-facing aspect were, moved quickly to make it their own.
The site was already home to a gorgeous cedar-weatherboard cottage, which, according to Jan, was “just too good to demolish”. To avoid resigning it to this fate, the cottage itself was sold and moved from the site, and in doing so, a new house was born.

No strangers to the building process, the Cliffs approached their architect with a proposed floor plan of their own, only to be pleasantly surprised to discover that their plans were an almost-identical match to those drawn up by the professionals. Taking it as a good omen, the couple proceeded with the build from those very plans, only making the odd tweak along the way.

Making space for a six-car garage was a non-negotiable element of the build, as Garry, an avid race and rally car driver, needed room for his prized motors, not to mention his extensive collection of trophies. The space required for this means that the L-shaped garage is tucked away down the driveway, preventing it from dominating the view at street level, while also allowing the living areas to enjoy the best of the natural light the location offers.

While the design of the three-bedroom, four-bathroom home is undeniably effective, with natural light pouring in to make the most of the already-generous spaces, the true beauty of this build lies in the details.

One such standout element is the steel staircase, which also features a bespoke rolled steel handrail. As the front door needed to be along the side of the house in order to accommodate the garage, the Cliffs wanted to ensure the entrance area made a real visual impact. Undoubtedly achieving this, the staircase’s solidity is accented by a unique and playful metal light fixture, which provides an element of softness and whimsy.

The interior design touches throughout the home have been curated by Jan herself, who opted to support New Zealand designers and retailers wherever possible. Showcasing pieces by the likes of Città Design and Corcovado alongside long-held family furniture, the blend works to provide an effortless sense of both luxury and comfort. What’s more, the spacing between certain windows has been informed by the sizes of artworks the couple already owned, giving a tailor-made feel to the
home’s interior.
The finishing touches continue throughout the home, with the same tiling being used between bathrooms on both the ground and first floor to enhance the natural sense of cohesion between the levels. Each of the generously-appointed bedrooms features a bathroom of its own, and two of them, including the master, contain enviable walk-in-wardrobes. The master bedroom itself is north-facing, allowing natural light and warmth to flood the room day- and year-round, with the dramatic black shutters pulled back to allow it to fill the space.

For Jan and Garry, this house suits both their needs and their lifestyle, and it’s not one they can see themselves leaving any time soon.

 -Style magazine