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Californian love

Updated: May 29, 2022

Inspired by Californian Mid-Century Modern Architecture Mike and Chris Johnston’s love for their new home is evident. Stunning in its simplicity the home is settled in this semi rural landscape with striking and definitive architectural lines and strong robust materials that compliment the surrounds.

Prior to the build being completed Mike and Chris were living full time in central Auckland both having extensive careers in the commercial property sector. “We would escape for the weekend and come down to stay in our purpose built barn”. Says Chris. “Mike originally hails from Katikati and we’re the fifth generation of his family to live on the land here. We’d always planned to build and eventually retire here”.

In fact they planted the site that surrounds their newly built home over ten years ago. “We only lost one tree in the build and only because the house had to be stepped back on the site”.

Having spent many years staying on the site Mike and Chris had some definite ideas about what they wanted and worked alongside a progressive architect from A & S Design who captured their vision for their home.

The home features two central spines that are cast from insitu poured board form concrete walls. The unique process captures the full timber grain from the decorative rusticated formwork in the concrete.

“The concrete casting was a challenge. We met with various builders before deciding on building with Johnny and the team at Calley Homes” says Mike. “Each of the builders appeared to have reservations about the concrete casting and began the build discussion with hurdles and compromise”.

“We had been referred to Johnny and meeting him was a breath of fresh air. He simply embraced our vision. His enthusiasm for the project and understanding of the asthetic we were trying to achieve resonated with us. I think it helps enormously if the builder likes the design” says Chris. “He did his research, called upon excellent advice from Ross Bannan a well known Concreteologist and ensured that this critical element in the home’s design went without a hitch. It’s no easy feat’

These beautifully crafted concrete walls are contrasted with vertical shiplap cedar and both of these materials feature externally and internally. “There’s an honesty in the use of the materials that provides such an easy space to be in” says Chris.

With sweeping pergola eaves and effortless indoor outdoor flow this home reaches out and embraces views over the estuary, river inlet and out to the harbour while remaining modest against the established landscape.

Polished salt and pepper concrete floors throughout the majority of living spaces are centrally heated underfoot and 2.7m high ceilings and recessed blinds throughout the home add to the elevated sense of space.

One of the critical details to achieving this effortless feel is the negative detailing. There are no skirting boards instead perfectly executed negative detailing is cast into the concrete walls and around the doors and along the lower walls where traditional skirting would usually be found.

The hub of this home is open plan living with a state of the art kitchen carved into the concrete walls and cedar paneling. Solid Ceaser Stone benchtops and contrasted dark stained oak cabinetry create a striking heart to what is an effortless entertaining space with a well equipped scullery to finish this area off. The space flows to an outdoor louvered dining area, outdoor fireplace and hot tub.

Off the core living space is a less formal snug library area that gives this compact home a well-blended mix of formal and casual living. All living spaces and bedrooms are designed looking out towards the view.

“It’s amazing how many decisions have to be made early on. We had weekly meetings with Johnny and we felt informed throughout the entire process. I was given time to make the decisions and provided with realistic time frames to do so” says Chris.

This time and thought is reflected in the quality and choices of the fittings within the home. From the matt black door hardware and carefully considered tap ware to the custom made bathroom cabinetry and beautiful glass tiling. All elements combining to compliment and finish this home

“Johnny was such a good person to communicate with and his team including foreman Shaun were excellent” says Chris.

“Nothing was impossible, nothing was a negative. I cannot recall one instance during the build process where we were unhappy or felt stress or pressure” say Mike. “It was a pleasure”.


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