Celene Busher and Darnell Nepia have built their dream home on a one hectare lifestyle block in Algies Bay, and they are very happy with the result. “It’s the Kiwi dream really – that’s how I feel about it,” says Celene. “It’s light, sunny and warm, and there’s space for the kids to run and play. We’re here for the long haul.”
They were living in London when Celene fell pregnant with their first child. “I couldn’t imagine living in London with a family so we started looking at property in New Zealand. We sent family members to look at this section in Algies Bay and purchased it without having seen it ourselves.”
The design started with space rather than substance after Celene fell in love with a photo of an internal courtyard. They contracted Designpoint, a local architect and landscaping company who came up with the concept for the house. “They had done a pavilion house before and it included the things I wanted – the internal courtyard and gable pitch ceilings,” says Celene. “We didn't have a lot of money but there were some design elements which weren't up for negotiation, as they were a key part in creating the home I envisioned. The high ceilings, large windows and the big bi-fold doors give it a great sense of space, and I love open plan living areas.”
Celene and Darnell were on a strict budget so did as much of the building work as they could. Celene explains, “We were originally going to build just the back pavilion, but we had our second child so decided to build both pavilions at once.”
Coresteel did the framing, structural and cladding work, and got it to lock-up stage. Then Brown Brothers Builders did the internal work, but they let Celene and Darnell come in and do anything they could to save some money. And they were obviously very capable, as demonstrated by the large, elegant deck built by Darnell.
The two pavilions are clad in ebony Coloursteel, but the strong, black exterior is softened by light, white living spaces inside, and ample doors and windows. The two pavilions are connected by a five metre glass linkway. As you arrive at the front door, you can see through a window, through the linkway, and straight out into the paddocks beyond.
Another striking feature of the house is the contemporary, clean interior design, a result of Celene’s expertise in the field and impeccable taste. “I’ve been doing homeware and fashion styling since I left school, primarily in the advertising industry. However, over the last few years, I have transitioned to interior design, which utilises the same skill set, but also brings in the customer relationship skills I learned as an account manager.”
Celene Interiors, based in Algies Bay, has been busy recently with a selection of local clients, working on new builds, renovations and commercial accommodation but Celene is preparing to kick the business up a gear this year, now that the children have gotten a bit older. She’s upgraded her website, is networking with builders and architects, and is excited about taking on new projects. “Building our house gave me a huge insight into the ins and outs of how a job works, and I can bring that knowledge and expertise to other people’s projects.”
She started with a passion for spaces, but something more solid lists among her favourite features of the house. “I adore our concrete floors! These were like my baby of the build. The concrete polisher said it is not often he sees such a high standard of concrete like ours anymore. The warmth retained in the floors is amazing because we get all day sun.”
In the end, though, for Celene, the house is about family. “I love watching the kids ride their bikes around the section and waterslide down the hill. I’m sentimental about things like that so it’s great to think we have enough room if our grown-up children wanted to live here one day.”
Coffee table and bedside tables supplied by Soren Liv.