Behind the green door

As designers, Lorin and Grant O’Reilly have always had an interest in architecture. And while they both loved the homes they’ve previously owned, there were always little things they would have done differently.

Watch their full story below

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So when they made the decision to build their own home in 2021, the couple had a pretty good idea of what they wanted. To make it happen, they knew it was important to choose a design and build company with a solid track record who shared their uncompromising design standards. That’s where Landmark Homes Tauranga & Bay of Plenty came in.

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Mid-century meets modern day

Lorin explains that the vision for their new home was based on form and function. “We wanted a house that was tailored to us and reflected the way we wanted to live – a robust family home that could handle kids scootering up the hallways and animals scratching the floors,” she says. “We didn’t want a house that felt like you needed to be ‘careful’ in it”.

A big inspiration for the O’Reilly’s new home is their love of mid-century modern design and the general aesthetic of the Californian Case Study houses from the ‘50s and ‘60s which feature flat roofs, light-flooded interiors, large windows, and easy access courtyards.

“I feel that the space you live in has an impact on your state of mind and wellbeing,” says Lorin. “I love the idea you can design a space that transforms the way in which you live your lives.”

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Bringing the outdoors in

For Lorin and Grant, having a family-friendly indoor-outdoor flow was a key consideration in the design of their new home. “We love the idea of using architecture and landscaping to blur the lines between indoors and out to give glimpses of nature throughout the house.”

The couple wanted a space where their kids would want to be outside in the fresh air playing, so having a pool and plenty of flat grass area was a big priority. And thanks to the home’s H-shaped design, both the garden and outdoor play space are drawn into the heart of the home. “We love being able to see the garden and our beautiful maple tree from most rooms of the house,” says Lorin. “Our office also has good views of the garden and pool so we can still keep an eye on the kids.”

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A team approach

Lorin and Grant had strong ideas about what they did and didn’t like, and even prepared a written brief and mood boards, but they admit to being unsure of how practical or costly some of those things would be. This is where Landmark Homes Tauranga & Bay of Plenty really made a difference. “Landmark were able to give us a good overview of the pros and cons of different building techniques and materials, including how they’d affect the budget.

“We mainly dealt with Logan, Glenn, and Deane and found them really nice to work with,” says Lorin. “We particularly appreciated their proactive communication which meant we were never left wondering what was going on. It was always easy to get them on the phone and they were very prompt with following up on any emails and questions.

“They were also very accommodating with any new ideas we had and were willing to go away and do some research or come back with costing estimates, while also letting us know if something was going to be impractical or complex to construct.”

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The must-haves

Lorin explains that in their previous home the bedrooms had been split between more than one level, which they found to be impractical. “It was really important to us to have the kids’ bedrooms and ours all on the same floor,” she says.

Other must-haves for the couple included a spare room for guests, lots of light from floor-to-ceiling windows, nice outlooks, and an internally accessible double garage. “Coming from a house with a single detached garage we knew we’d make use of the extra space of a double and the convenience of it being internal.”

Although most of their must-haves had been decided early, Lorin and Grant did make a couple of changes as the design progressed. “We added a walk-in shower to the ensuite plus a separate living area and a media room. “It means the living room is a quieter, less crowded space, which makes spending time in it much more pleasant.”

Lorin and Grant also added in a dedicated office they can both work in. “Sometimes it’s nice to be able to get away into a quiet space to concentrate or do some work,” says Lorin.

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Overcoming challenges

For the majority of the Design and Build, Lorin and Grant were living in Wellington. “Despite being in a different city, we always felt connected to the project.

“The Landmark team were always great at keeping in touch. We also liked the fact that we could check in with the progress via their online build management software which allowed us to see the most recent photos of the build, as well as access to Gantt charts.”

Just to make things even more of a challenge, along came COVID. “Our build was just three weeks off being ready for us to move in when COVID struck, and we had to lock down.

“Although it was devastating to see the build stop, Landmark quickly and efficiently cleaned up and secured the site and had QR check-in codes for tradies up and running – well before the government QR code app was in place. And on the day the lockdown lifted, the site was back up and running.”

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Keeping on top of costs

Throughout the build process, Grant and Lorin realised there were extra things they really wanted, like the media room and larger bedrooms for the kids. “Landmark helped us through this process and costed the changes so we could make an informed choice about them,” she says.

“We had initially planned to have the spare bedroom and office on a second level, but after discussing the pros and cons of this with Landmark, we changed the layout and are really happy with how convenient it is having everything on one floor and how the new layout creates privacy for our yard.

“We ended up going beyond our initial budget a little, but that was our choice and we’re happy with the final cost of the build.”

The couple had also hoped to clad the whole house in cedar, and although this ended up being beyond their budget, the Landmark team found a great solution. “After working through options with Landmark team we landed on a design where cedar is still featured in some key areas whereas the rest of the house is painted. And the added benefit it that we now have lower maintenance”.

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The end result

“The build quality exceeded our expectations,” says Lorin. “The modernist aesthetic with its clean lines leaves little room to hide imperfections in terms of finish, so they did a tremendous job to reach such a high quality within the budget. We’ve had several other tradies come through the house since it was completed and comment on the high quality of the finish, which is always nice to hear.”

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Would you recommend Landmark Homes Tauranga & Bay of Plenty?

“Definitely, and we often do!” says Lorin. “We love our new home, and we feel really confident about recommending Landmark Homes Tauranga & Bay of Plenty to others.”

If you’re thinking about building your dream home, contact the Landmark Homes Tauranga & Bay of Plenty team today.

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