Country Retreat

The best way to learn to love the land is to live on it. That’s exactly what Mike and Marcelle Waugh did when they purchased a cherished piece of land, with a large bush covenant overlooking the south Kaipara harbour, in 2002. A corralled yard previously used for deer farming proved the ideal sheltered spot for an old trailer home, set out of the wind and facing the sweeping view north along the bushclad gully to the sea.

The simple trailer home provided a great base for camping on site to replant native bush, vegetables and fruit trees, and to plan for the day a permanent dwelling could be built. Initially, the caravan site seemed the perfect spot for the new house, and Jane St George Waugh was commissioned to begin sketch plans for a layout that would enclose a north-facing courtyard and frame the view. Then a neighbour relocated a tall house onto a site just across the fence, overlooking the Waugh’s planned front yard, and the thinking and planning took a different turn as it became clear the house should be built elsewhere on the land.

Mike, as a painter-decorator, and Marcelle, as a colour consultant, have a great eye for detail and strong design ideas. Their personal scrapbooks became a rich design Country retreat source, with ethnic details, natural textures, light play themes and a preference for long clean lines emerging clearly. Jane drew on these ideas along with many site visits and times of in-depth discussion to develop the design intentions to buildable detail that suited the site and the owners’ flair.

The final position for the dwelling allowed a large shed to be nestled in along an old macrocarpa shelter belt, with the house set out to the north. The new setting meant the planned wings of the house could be spread wider to embrace a broad sweep of grass, along with the gully and sea views beyond. Planning progressed, with the master bedroom wing angled north west, to frame winter afternoon sun and a deck overlooking regenerating native bush. This wing also utilised natural terraces in the landscape to house a downstairs studio bedroom. Living spaces face north, with an open plan layout oriented to decks along the north-facing courtyard. The east wing provides guest accommodation and a long glazed gallery facing the courtyard terrace.

Working the design to provide a closed ‘back’ and open ‘front’ made sense for controlling the impact of wind from the south and harnessing winter sun from the north. Dryblock masonry was selected for its water repellent qualities and thermal mass. Plastered externally, and strapped and lined internally, the block work is a structural component, providing a long sheltering spine to the south face, with punctuated walls extending beyond the floor plan to articulate the main entry and to shelter the porches that face east and west from the main living wing. Glazing is open and expansive to the north face, with large sliders that can be slid aside into wall cavities, behind cedar weatherboard panels. Wide verandah overhangs control direct solar heat gain. Likewise, glazing to the east and west is carefully framed by deep porches to limit sun ingress to the winter months. Designed before double glazing was a requirement, the thermal mass/ solar heat gain balance was carefully worked, with the result that the ‘Sunflow’ reticulating under-slab heating system circulates the water through the pipes merely by passive thermal movement through the slab, shifting heat from warmer to cooler areas, and has never required an external heating source to be added to the system.

The ability to efficiently store and use rainwater runoff is an important factor in rural settings, and ‘COLORSTEEL® Endura’ made good sense, both as the roofing for the house, and the roofing and cladding for the shed. A mono pitched roof design suited both buildings; articulating the long clean lines of the design, ensuring the two different buildings complement each other despite clearly differing functions, and assisting the wraparound house form to shelter the north-facing courtyard. The shed is dressed in ‘Ironsand’ COLORSTEEL®, with silvering suspended under ‘Posistrut Trimmable’ roof trusses. Clean ceiling and wall planes combine with a paint palette of soft whites and a warm-toned ‘Peter Fell’ polished concrete floorslab to create an airy open environment, with a changing cedar doors, and tends to slip into the shade of the macrocarpa hedge as a deliberately recessive element in the design. The house roof is COLORSTEEL® colour ‘Ironsand’ which blends well with the painted plaster masonry exterior, the natural toning of vertical shiplap cedar weatherboard and the landscape of native grasses and rengarenga lilies.

Internally, the monopitch roof form is echoed in the sloping ceilings suspended under ‘Posistrut Trimmable’ roof trusses. Clean ceiling and wall planes combine with a paint palette of soft whites and a warm-toned ‘Peter Fell’ polished concrete floorslab to create an airy open environment, with a changing light play through tall narrow windows in the stairwell leading to the master bedroom. The calm setting has been developed as backdrop for the daily invitation to savour the landscape and views. Marcelle and Mike have further developed the interior with panels of vibrant colour chosen to echo elements in original artworks and selected oriental, pacifika and kiwi timber elements.

It has taken some time to complete decks and establish landscaping. Galvanised steel frames still await retractable canvas for further summer shade in the courtyard area, yet most of the design intentions have been realised and are standing the test of time well. The goal was to enhance the naturallandscape rather than burden it. Native bush is regenerating well along the gully and boundaries. Organic orchard and garden practices are building up the soil near the house. Solar water heating, on-site grey water and waste water treatment, passive solar thermal design and rain-water harvesting each play a role in allowing the owners to live more lightly on the land. The result is an inviting and reflective place, with an open, hospitable lifestyle to match.


Define DESIGN favours a consultative design approach and is regularly involved in residential, community and church projects at a variety of scales, from alterations and additions to new ‘greenfields’ projects.


Working as a Colour consultant for many years provided me with a strong base to draw upon, when coming up with ideas for our own home. We strongly felt that the exterior colours should blend in with the surrounding environment, choosing colours that reflected the grey/green/browns of the predominantly Kanuka bush. Internally we kept the colour palette simple with a soft off-white and gradually introduced stronger colours in the living areas – green, blue and a splash of yellow endeavouring to still reflect the colours in the surrounding environment. Our own home as a project has been exciting and ongoing, a never-ending dream in progress.

Architect: Jane St George Waugh,
Howick , Auckland.
Telephone: 09 533 9400

Colour Consultant: Marcelle Waugh
Telephone; 0274 622021

Builder: Dave Naismith, Helensville
Telephone; 0274 971 219

Roofing contactor:
Delta Plumbing, Tony Grippling
Telephone: 0274 964 122

Roofing profile; COLORSTEEL®

Joinery: MD Aluminium
Telephone: 09 832 1736

Heating Partners Ltd - Solar panels &
Underfloor heating
Telephone: 09 820 8480
Concrete floors: Peter Fell,
Telephone: 09 828 6460

M G Decorators
Telephone: 0275950262