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navy nursery pillow Inside Alex and Corban's stylish Whananaki holiday home sofa pillow covers
Views: 72 Updated: :2019-09-18

Inbetween winning The Block in 2014, launching a successful homeware business and starting a family, Alex and Corban built a?holiday home in Whananaki. We take tour through their stylish space

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In August 2012, a few months prior to getting married, Alex and Corban Walls purchased a vacant section in Whananaki, on the east coast of Northland. “Corban and I met in Whananaki many years ago, so it was already a pretty special place for us,” says Alex. “We had been looking for a coastal property for some time, with the sole intention of building a family holiday home, and chanced across this beautiful site.”


Fraser Horton.

Alex, where have you saved money?We have bought some secondhand furniture, built a lot ourselvesnavy nursery pillow, and anything we did purchase was quite basic and was mixed in with props and smaller interior items to make the styling interesting. We saved a lot of money on labour, with Corban taking on a lot of it himself.

Any splurges?The sofa, which we bought just recently. It is such an important piece of furniture for the house, so we just splurged and got this large modular couch from Nood.

What was your best buy and why?Definitely the cedar hot tub! It was $800 and we use it every day we are there.

Disasters? One of the large glass window panels fell out onto the deck of the truck while the containers were being transported up north. It sat there the entire trip without us realising until we got to site. It was a 300kg panel so it wasn’t going anywhere – but it gave us a shock. Also, when we were installing the septic system, the tide came in and flooded the septic tank right out of the ground (we are only 40 metres back from the water).

Best memory in your bach?We got married at a beach just up the road, and around our wedding week we had a lovely time with family and friends at the house, planning and getting ready for the day. We have since spent many weekends with our friends and large groups in the house and it is filled with lots of lovely memories.

What would you never do again?There are a few! 1. Put plywood in a kitchen, at least not around areas which can be splattered by cooking fats. 2. Lay paving at a bach – battling the weeds makes it too high maintenance. 3. Use dark tiles in a bathroom that has minimal natural light.

Best lesson learned?Take your time. What’s your hurry in building? The building is going to be there for a long time, so do it once and do it right. You need to take care when installing or designing things for the house. Our tight deadline meant that we rushed a lot of things in the build and have had to go back and repair things or re-think layouts. This was a huge lesson for us, and has helped us in subsequent projects as we now allow time for design and installation.

What’s your advice for others considering a renovation or new-build?Don’t set yourselves a three-month deadline! That was just crazy-stupid. If you need to cut costs, try to do tasks yourselves, like painting, landscaping and general labouring. It helps tradies to be effective. Get savvy with recycled materials and re-purposing.


Alex, Corban and baby Austen in the living room.


The building was designed with communal living in mind, as the couple want their bach to be enjoyed by large groups of people they love.


Shipping containers were reconfigured to create a series of large, welcoming spaces connected by a covered walkway for easy access.


This compact, inventive home built for sharing radiates warmth and welcome, much like the couple themselves.


Corban had previously built his own shipping-container home in Muriwai so his knowledge of how to work with containers certainly made this project a little easier.


The library is a focal point of the house and was Alex’;s favourite place to decorate.


The library offers a range of reading for guests, while the shelving also acts as a room divider.


The couple’s main goal for this home was to be able to accommodate large groups.


“The feeling of community was really important when we were considering the layouts and interior,” says Alex. For that reason they chose a huge sofa and generous dining table, knowing that the open-plan living and dining spaces would be the most used areas of the house.


Generous living and dining areas were designed to accommodate as many guests as possible and encourage a buzzing, communal atmosphere.


At the time of purchase, each container was lined with powder-coated steel panels and the flooring was commercial-grade carpet, so the couple did everything they could to mask any remaining industrial details by lining the walls with hardwood ply.


Plywood lines every room of the house as it is a cost-effective decorating choice that creates a warm, inviting feel and softens the home’s industrial origins.


One dwelling contains the main living and kitchen areas, three bedrooms and one bathroom, while the second has a kitchenette, small living area, a bathroom and three additional bedrooms.


“We had to get pretty savvy when it came to materials and repurposing. We spent a lot of time working on finding recycled timber, materials, plants and furniture and being resourceful with what we had,” explain?Alex.


Alex and Corban set themselves an ambitious deadline of 12 weeks, so that their families could stay in the house when they visited Whananaki for the couple’s wedding in January.?“Our timeline and budget were the biggest challenges with this house,” recalls Alex.

Wayfarer cushion, $59.99, from Alex &; Corban. Rangitoto bar stool, $299, from Yoyo. ?Purl Stitch throw, $139.99, from Citta. ?Tristan throw, $54.95, from Freedom. ?Modular sofa, from $499 a piece, from Nood. ?Armadillo &; Co Berber Knot Zulu rug, from $1675, from The Ivy House. ?Johnny wire chair, $185, from Cintesi. Bell basket ceiling pendant, $149, from Freedom. ?Rattan Coffee table, $399, from Shut the Front Door.

Gallery | 10 PhotosRead the full story here

Words by: Annick Larkin. Photography by: Helen Bankers.

You know, I thought I was relatively fashionable, but it seems maybe I am not.? My cousin’s birthday party is tomorrow and I have just been stumped all week trying to think of a cute-little-something to gift her.? I know what *I* like… but alas, she is half my age.? Which makes me not want to say which birthday this is… but I doubt this young lady is going to pass for 12.

Don’t let the chilly temperature prevent you from getting in the garden! Use this simple gardening guide on what to harvest, plant and sow this June

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