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Crafted Simplicity: In The home of Bridget & Jonathon

06 Sep, 2023

It was a dream come true when a section became available on Bridget and Jonathon Lee’s favourite street, in the desirable suburb of Otūmoetai, Tauranga. Set up on a hill overlooking the Waikareao Estuary, the newly subdivided section ticked all the boxes. At the end of 2021, Bridget, a Graphic Designer & co-owner of luxury basics brand, Dear Dylan, husband Jonathon, an Operations Manager, and their two sons Harper & Henry set out to build their new home.

With family living at the forefront of their design choices, the space spans two floors, offering ample views over Mount Maunganui and Tauranga. The result of their building journey is a refined, contemporary home that blends effortlessly into the existing, sought-after neighbourhood. The space reflects the Lee’s relaxed lifestyle with its’ open plan kitchen and living, where the family find themselves spending most of their time. Large sliders open up to a deck on the north side of the house, creating the perfect spot to soak up the sun and entertain family and friends.

Underfoot sits a rich walnut toned engineered timber and chunky loop pile wool carpet, that makes for an elegant backdrop for Bridget’s clean and sophisticated interior design selections. An eclectic mix of pieces from favourite local design store, Paper Plane and collected heirlooms adorn the shelves, creating a captivating blend that infuses the space with personal charm.

What was your journey to living in your current home?
After a few years of looking, a section remarkably became available on our favourite street and suburb. We knew we would always live there one day, so we did everything we could to make building our home on the recently subdivided section possible. Thankfully, aside from a few pandemic interruptions, the build ran smoothly and we both really enjoyed the process.

How would you best describe your home?
I would describe our build as contemporary yet classic. We designed the layout of the house with family life in mind, creating a separate living area for our boys to have their own space as they grew older. Now 10 and 12, it works so perfectly whenever we are entertaining or they have friends of their own over.

What was the vision for your build?
It was important to us to create a home that felt light, bright and open, with a focus on using natural products throughout. We envisioned bringing in lots of drama and contrast in tones and textures to create visual interest. We have achieved that by keeping the interior mainly white and pairing it with rich walnut toned flooring. We introduced dark navy and green in our kitchen and bathrooms to bring an unexpected pop of colour to the house. In keeping with our aim to create a light, open space, the entire upstairs, aside from the master bedroom, is all open plan – it has a wonderfully serene feel to it. Most importantly, we wanted our home to feel uniquely ours whilst keeping it timeless so we would continue to love it for many years to come.

What was important in your flooring choice? We always knew we wanted to use natural products throughout our home, which meant we were able to narrow our choices down to engineered timber flooring and wool carpet pretty quickly. With two young boys, and our fur baby, Huddy, both needed to be hard-wearing and easy to maintain. We landed on Reside Xpert Pro Wellington Timber in Riverside Oak and Bremworth Levante Wool Carpet in Felucca, which both feel super lovely underfoot and pair together perfectly. Additionally, we added an inset of wool carpet into our lounge with Bremworth Ripples in Tekapo, to create a permanent ‘cozy zone’ and get all the benefits of the super soft and spongy underlay that you don’t get with a rug.

What would you splurge on and save on when building?
We chose to splurge on our flooring as well as tapware, tiling, lighting and window treatments. We recommend doing your homework to make sure you’re getting the best price whenever you can. Controversially, we opted to save by reducing our square meterage instead of making sacrifices elsewhere that just wouldn’t have felt right to us. It might be an unpopular opinion, but we felt that 210 square metres was enough for our family and it worked perfectly with the layout of our home.

Where are you shopping or sourcing from?
Always Paper Plane for homewares - I’m lucky enough to work with them and it’s almost impossible to ignore all the beautiful new arrivals as they come in. I also love to shop at Everyday Needs, Sunday Homestore, Father Rabbit, and Slow Store. I’m very partial to a Facebook Marketplace or TradeMe find and as it happens, some of the most treasured pieces in our home have had a past life. They add soul to the space and I love to imagine where they might have come from.

What are your top tips when building new?
Try to lean in and enjoy the process, it’s certainly not one that many will get the opportunity to repeat often. It’s so crucial to keep an eye on development and progress, so if you can, visit the site every day or two. I recommend always taking your floor plans, flooring and paint swatches with you so you can make other decisions and purchases with confidence. It’ll quite often save you a second trip. Be sure to take your time with sourcing furniture and art, you don’t need all of these pieces straight away for your home to be complete. A partly empty home feels just as beautiful and it allows you to feel out the space, know where the sun hits and figure out how you live in it before you commit to these larger purchases. Lastly, you must have a contingency fund for the inevitable over-spend! It takes the stress away knowing you have planned for it rather than letting it take you by surprise.

Where do you draw inspiration from when it comes to making interior decisions?
I’m still really into magazines, I used to work in the industry, and love having a physical copy in front of me to trawl through. Homestyle has always been my favourite whether I’m looking for inspiration or reading purely for pleasure, it is such a well-considered publication and I’m continually inspired by their work. My job with Paper Plane keeps me in touch with new products that come from many of my favourite interior brands and I often find myself mentally placing them around my house. I’m also very lucky to have an abundance of incredibly clever, creative friends in my life who are forever inspiring me.

What is your favourite space in your home and why?
It is most definitely the open plan kitchen, living space and covered deck. There is a natural flow to the outdoor space which means entertaining friends and family feels so effortless. We can enjoy being outside and still feel connected to the kids when they’re hanging out inside and vice versa. This part of the house tends to see a lot of sun all year round, so it’s always lovely and warm and filled with light – it’s exactly what we had envisioned for our home.

What’s next in store for your home and do you have any future projects in the pipeline?
We still have a few bare walls that I’d love to fill with some really special art, it can take time to find the perfect piece so we’re not rushing that process. We know that it has such an impact on the feel of the rest of the home. Aside from that, there’s a fair bit of landscaping work to do outside so we’re looking forward to all the spring planting ahead of us.


Homeowners: Bridget & Jonathon Lee
Where: Otūmoetai, Tauranga
Photographer: Olivia Pitcher

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