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Where the Pheasants Fly

Fiona Hawtin, editor of Your Home & Garden speaks with Simon and Sarah about their family home that pays tribute to the view and the landscape.


Simon Dickey and Sarah Schultheiss are city people used to having neighbours in close proximity. Simon used to call Ponsonby home and Sarah hails from Berlin. Now, their closest neighbours are pheasants and bulls who don’t mind at all when he does naked yoga on his deck. It’s just as well he’s coming round to the rural idyll.

“I’m starting to fall in love with cows. Every one of them has a different expression. Some are angry, some are gentle and some are in between,” he says of the creatures who’ve inspired the charcoal portraits hung around the house.

The family’s conceptual 350sqm four-bedroom, three-bathroom home has 360 views across Raglan. A week after he bought the site, he’d made a sketch of what he wanted his house to look like, which now hangs in the main bathroom, and briefed the architect.

“It’s a fun house. It was an opportunity to create something that was really sensitive to the land. There are a lot of hawks that fly around the periphery of the boundary, and that sparked an idea of the design, the idea of the house being wing-like,” he says of the house’s ‘bird in flight’ concept of a living and dining wing on the left and a sleeping wing to the right.

The driving force behind the design was to pay tribute to the view and not create a statement with the house, just let it blend into the environment and be in tune with “the celestial – the sun and the moon and the stars, and being able to see Matariki up in the north-eastern sky at night”.

Those views are why the wall of APL Architectural Series floor-to-ceiling sliding doors and vast picture windows in the living space was so important to the project, requiring extra-high performance glazing due to the strong norwesterly. They also liked the profile of it from a design perspective. “It’s really clean and elegant at the same time,” says Simon.

The decorating style, a blend of charcoals, greys and earthy mānuka, is a considered mix of mid-century and industrial with the old-school French table and chairs in the kitchen and the German factory lights over the raised dining table. But it is the laundry and covered clothesline in the middle of the house that Sarah likes most. “Simon mentioned the fun of the house, but for me it’s also the functionality,” she says of the ability to be able to dry her laundry out of the sun in a day, without worrying about sudden showers.

The family love being so in tune with the environment, Simon is even considering being here when he’s 100. “I could live here. We don’t have to walk upstairs,” he says half-jokingly.

House concept development: David Lachlan at Sustainable Architect
House detail design: Alice at Rubix Architecture

Region Waikato

The driving force behind the design was to pay tribute to the view and not create a statement with the house, just let it blend in

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