Pilot Bay peninsula near Tauranga has the quaint feel of a bach community in its heyday. Fishing boats and brightly painted dinghies ease across the quiet waters while, further out, there is a silent bustle of bright container ships heading for the horizon. As interior designer Lauren Hare explains, it is like a “postcard from the 1950s”. Hare continued this mid-century feel in an interior that took on a sort of Palm Springs feel: cosy and natural, but with a shot of sunny glamour as well.
The client built this project as a retirement home but wanted to bring elements of his Hinuera farm to this beach-side site, hence the use of Hinuera stone throughout. The stone’s soft dun tones, seemed to emphasise the 1950s’ and 1960s’ feel of the house, given its substantial use in mid-century homes, so it was a challenge for Hare to allow the stone to express a classic look, but to modernise it to give the space a contemporary and luxurious feel.
Rather than leave the Hinuera stone as a single feature, Hare created a palette of many different types of stone, layering them to create rich texture and light effects. Honey onyx was used in the kitchen and in the living space’s fire surround, while the vanities were made from cappuccino onyx. The kitchen, in particular, being so much on show in the open living space, was given considerable attention and designed like an ornate piece of cabinetry. Layered with the natural stones, Hare has used walnut timber throughout, crown cut to emphasise a strong grain to tie it in with the grain of the stone, layered with natural stones. To contrast and soften, wools, cashmere, velvets and linens, she added more texture and softness to the space.
A road runs between the house and the beach and so the living areas are exposed to passers-by. The design has ingeniously used unusual elements to create privacy. The ground level has been elevated above the road to create some separation between the interior and the road. Hare describes the feeling of standing on the edge of the deck looking out to sea as like standing on a yacht – the road drops out of your periphery and can be ignored. But the outdoor living space has been sunken – again a nod to retro inspiration – creating a private and cosy space alongside the public promenade. The dining room has been divided off by a curtain of brass chain mail. This curtain, custom-designed by Hare, offers both a tough texture to the space, demarcates the dining space within the open plan and obscures any prying eyes from the street while not impeding the view.
The chain-mail curtain is indicative of the luxurious but masculine styling throughout. Rich details and unusual finishes complete the space. Handmade silk and velvet rugs, Italian suede panels and brass flashings on the doors combine with raw steel sheet, timber and stone creating a home for retirement that is anything but retiring.
Styling: Lauren Hare