House of the Year – Whitianga

When Kirstin and Matt Castle were designing their new home in Whitianga on the Coromandel Peninsula, they concentrated on what was best for themselves and their two young sons. Pleasing the judges in the Registered Master Builders House of the Year competition was the last thing on their mind. But please them they did! They won the gold award in the Placemakers New Home $450,000 – $550,000 category.

“We were quite chuffed to win actually. It’s really nice to know that others also appreciate what we have done. And it’s a big tick for our company’s design studio“ said a delighted Kirstin.


The Castle’s new house sits on a large, sunny, flat 4,035m site in Whitianga township. The beaches, marina, shops and restaurants are all within very easy reach. The site was completely bare when they purchased it in 2016 and HAMR homes took just six months to complete the project.

“We’ve heard the horror stories of new builds. But HAMR took care of everything for us. It really was stress free and we totally enjoyed being part of the process.”


This is a home that ticks all the boxes on a homeowner’s wish list. It’s got open plan living, indoor outdoor flow, a generous veranda, large decks, easy care native garden, loads of storage, bunkbeds for the holiday guest overflow, and even a games room.

As Kirstin said, “We wanted this to be a home that had some of the elements of the traditional Kiwi bach and all the comforts of a modern home.”

It ‘s a home you can open out in summer, or close in for winter. Clever use of Velux skylights and ventilating louvres lets you regulate the airflow, so you can avoid those sticky and hot sleepless nights in summer. In winter, the double glazing, fully insulated walls and ceilings, solar capturing concrete floors and super efficient wood burner all make for a very cosy and comfortable home.

It’s easy maintenance too. The exterior cladding is bevel-back cedar weatherboards coated with Resene Woodsman Tiri Stain. The roof is corrugated iron with Flaxpod powder coating and the Marley Stratus Design Series® Typhoon® spouting and RP80® downpipes are all hardwearing uPVC which won’t rust, so is perfect for the coastal location.

“We got lucky with the spouting. Marley released their Stratus Design Series® in black midway through the build so we had time to change to it.  It’s the perfect match for our colour scheme.”

There is no doubt that dark exteriors are very popular right now, however we love the way the Castles have gone for white (Resene Half Merino) soffit and posts to offset the moody cladding and black Marley spouting and downpipes. Looks so good!

The half round Typhoon® spouting profile frames the house with a modern look, and the external brackets give some added detail, while also making it easier to clean the spouting out.


Nothing quite says ‘beach house’ like an outdoor shower. It also means no more sandy togs in the bathroom, or sand on the floor. And nothing says indulgence like having a bath under the stars. The reconditioned bath is one of the most popular features of the home – it gets good use all year round from all members of the family.


The Castle home is very much a local product. Kirsten has her own architectural business, Studio 77 Ltd, which is based in Whitianga. The kitchen and bathroom cabinetry were supplied by Dimax, another local firm, and the Castles didn’t have to look very far to find their builders as HAMR Home are just down the road.

“It’s great to be able to use local contractors and suppliers. You can’t beat the personal service and not one local tradie let us down. They were all great.”


The most surprisingly thing about the Castle’s new home is the fact that it’s not really their home in the long term. It’s just stage one. In time, as the family grows a new house will be built on site and the house you see now will become the guest house/boat shed. So, watch this space for House of the Year 2020!


Marley Typhoon spouting

Marley RP80 80mm round downpipe

Marley Stratus Design Series