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Contemporary courtyard - a space for family





With a hectare of land to take care of, creating a low maintenance outdoor living area for their new pool was a top priority for Kay and Ross Abernethy – and Kay says they made it happen.

“We barely have to maintain the space, which has given us much more time to enjoy it. It has taken 18 months to finish it all off, but we are so pleased that it’s all done.”

Since completion, the space has been put to good use. Kay, Ross and their daughter Georgia swim in the pool nearly every day, and the courtyard was the perfect place to host a friend’s wedding reception.

The wall surrounding the new outdoor area can be entered through a scenic cobblestone path or an antique-style door, giving a sense of a hide-away sanctuary.

“When creating the space, I kept the ‘make-your-home-a-five-star-resort-and-you’ll-never-have-to-go-on-holiday’ premise in mind.  Now it’s finished though, I see it as a beautiful and very functional part of our home.”

Self design
Kay took the reins on the overall design of the space, and didn’t use a project manager.

“My style preference for both the courtyard and our house is European. I lived in London for 12 years and we love visiting France, so I think that’s where my taste comes from. Also, there’s something about a modern look with clean, straight lines that I really like.”

For the project, the Abernethys used sustainable products and shopped locally as much as possible.
Show-stopping pool

A 10.2m-long pool is the centrepiece of the courtyard. It is kitted with a Vantage cleaning system exclusive to Tauranga based business, Central Pools.

Central Pools director Steffan Hudson says the set-and-forget system uses a series of jets at the bottom of the pool, which rotate in sequence to move debris to into a canister. Besides emptying the debris canister, no manual cleaning is required.

“The Vantage system rotates the water from the bottom to the top, creating less of an opportunity for algae and bacteria to grow and making it much harder for the pool to go green.

“Circulating the water also ensures that the sun doesn’t burn off the chemicals in the pool as quickly, which halves chemical consumption.

“Warm water from the top of the pool is circulated too, so heating your pool becomes more cost effective.”

Kay says selecting the Compass Pool with the Vantage cleaning system was an easy choice, but the family had differing opinions on the colour and shape. They settled on the shape “vogue” in the colour pearl.

“We chose pearl because it makes the water look tropical – and it needs to look warm in order for me to get in!”

To tie-in the colour of the pool with the surrounding silver travertine courtyard, Kay chose white quartzite pool coping from Natural Stone Imports.

“I liked the vogue shape because it has a seat on the side – it’s a lovely spot to read a book and enjoy a glass of wine.”

Mirroring the seat area is a water feature, where six small fountains sit on top of a glass mosaic tile design by Palmer & Allen, and laid by Karl Cameron from Professional Pool Finishes. The tiles appear blue at first, but sport a turquoise, pink and purple shimmer in sunlight.

“When you put the fountains on, the water bubbling over the mosaic looks beautiful.

“I wondered if we’d have to continually wipe lime scale off the tile feature, but we’ve had it for over a year and I haven’t had to clean them once.”

Balancing brightness
To tone down the brightness of the pool and courtyard, Kay painted the surrounding wall a dark colour, called Ironsand. It matches the pergola, built by Foote Building, which is painted bokara grey.

“I wanted to have lots of light features in the space without it being glary. Having a dark colour around the edges brings the brightness down nicely, and makes everything pop.”

Beneath the dark pergola and sails are more light features: a grey lounge set surrounding a concrete fire and a wooden white-wash table.

“Apart from the pool, the space under the pergola is my favourite part of the whole area. It’s a comfortable and practical social space.”

Night entertainment
To keep with the European look, black lantern-style lights sit along the pergola posts.

“AT Electrical installed the lights so we can control them with through an app on our phones, which we think is pretty handy.”

The warm-white bulbs, along with the fire, bring a warm cosiness to the space.

If it’s too cold for a swim in the pool the Abernethys have a separate spa, elevated on deck built by Foote Building.

Sustainable energy
A small cottage separate from the main house has 40, 310W solar panels facing east and west, installed by Mount Maunganui-based company Hitek Solar.

They also have two 5kW inverters, and 20 kWh of lithium-ion battery storage.

“Our solar panel system significantly reduces our power costs. Our power bill in January this year was a quarter of our bill from the January before.

“It’s also reassuring that when there is a power outage, our fridge, the wifi and some lights will remain on.

“With the other benefits aside, we installed the solar panels to become a more sustainable household. We’ve all got to do our bit, and we’re very fortunate that we are in a position to do so.”