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An Off-the-Grid Cottage in New Zealand, Available for Rent

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An Off-the-Grid Cottage in New Zealand, Available for Rent

April 9, 2018

When the Hay family wanted to add a guest cottage to their remote estate on Great Barrier Island, New Zealand, they called on their two adult children to pull it together: Architect Tim Hay, who alongside his decorated firm Fearon Hay, designed the property with his sister, interior designer Penny Hay. Having spent significant time there, the pair were intimately familiar with the site—Penny calls it “one of the most magical places I have ever been”—and knew immediately that their design approach to the cottage would have a light touch, in deference to the land.

To start, the estate is secluded; the island is located about 60 miles off the coast of Auckland, accessible by small plane or a 4 1/2-hour ferry. There is no central power or water supply on the island, so all buildings are off the grid: “We generate our own power, collect our own rainwater, and process our own wastewater,” Penny says.

Because the estate is surrounded by a landscape of “dark native trees and bush, with shadows of dark foliage,” says Tim, his firm designed the cottage as a “black box that ties into its remote setting.” The interiors, Penny says, “quietly sit in the background, while you can be present in nature at its best.” Let’s take a closer look.

Photography by Patrick Reynolds, courtesy of Fearon Hay.

the cottage is clad in rough sawn cedar with a black stained finish. 9
Above: The cottage is clad in rough-sawn cedar with a black stained finish.

There is a main family house on the estate, so the cottage serves as a retreat for friends and extended family. “It works well when all the family are staying, with the kids running and playing between both houses,” Penny says.

the cottage has three rooms: a main living/dining room with a small kitchen, fl 10
Above: The cottage has three rooms: a main living/dining room with a small kitchen, flanked by two bedrooms with en suite baths. The entire cottage opens onto the ocean view via folding, perforated black metal screens. The living room rug is seagrass and the woodstove is from Morsøe.

To Penny, the beauty of the cottage is not its design but its surroundings: The cottage “lets you gently reach out to the beautiful landscapes without being distracted,” she says.

penny wanted the interiors to be made of &#8\2\20;soft, natural materials,  11
Above: Penny wanted the interiors to be made of “soft, natural materials, in a supportive and calming character.” She designed the solid oak dining table and paired it with Air Chairs from Magis.
“With the understanding that a lot of eating happens outside on the deck,” Penny says, “the wood table often acts as an adjunct prep surface for the kitchen.”

the kitchen, just visible through the frames, is a custom design in stainless  12
Above: The kitchen, just visible through the frames, is a custom design in stainless steel. Because minimal square footage was dedicated to the kitchen, says Penny, “it was really important to feel like you were looking at a beautifully crafted object, stainless steel being the focus.”

“We didn’t want a kitchen that dominated the space, spilling over with appliances, lights, and so much stuff,” says Penny.

in both bedrooms, four oak panels behind the bed slide open to reveal the en su 13
Above: In both bedrooms, four oak panels behind the bed slide open to reveal the en suite bathroom, while hiding two shelving units on the left and right. “This way, the small space was maximized, and when completely closed it displays a full wall of beautiful timber,” Tim says. The bathroom wall tiles are basalt, and the mirror is a custom design by Penny.
the wall paneling throughout the cottage is oiled oak. the king beds in the bed 14
Above: The wall paneling throughout the cottage is oiled oak. The king beds in the bedrooms can be split into singles, to accommodate more people.

“Though Tim is the architect and I did the interiors,” Penny says, “we worked together on all details without division between indoors and out—that’s how we approach all our designs.”

the sofa and side table are custom designs by penny hay. 15
Above: The sofa and side table are custom designs by Penny Hay.

Both the main house and the cottage are available for rent when not in use by the family. Go to Ihu rentals for more.

the perforated metal panels are &#8\2\20;a really lovely layer to play aro 16
Above: The perforated metal panels are “a really lovely layer to play around with, in terms of opacity and privacy for sleeping or shutting down while watching a storm,” Penny says.
a wood deck flanks both sides of the cottage. 17
Above: A wood deck flanks both sides of the cottage.

“It’s really quite special as a retreat in summer, with all the windows opening out to the ocean,” says Penny. “Or in winter, with the wood-burning stove roaring, reading a book and listening to the waves and just being in the barrier environment.”

the cottage glows like a lantern at night. it&#8\2\17;s powered by solar p 18
Above: The cottage glows like a lantern at night. It’s powered by solar panels located up the hill, concealed from sight by bushes and trees.

Great Barrier Island has recently been designated as one of three Dark Sky Sanctuaries in the world, for its minimal light pollution.

&#8\2\20;the island is a world of its own, and being off the grid can be ch 19
Above: “The island is a world of its own, and being off the grid can be challenging,” says Penny, “but it’s also part of what makes it so rewarding, being so connected to nature and living off the land.”

For more from New Zealand across our sites, see:

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