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personalized teacher signs Why this couple decided to buy and renovate four flats instead of one sofa pillow covers

Updated: 2019-09-25 04:08Font Size: LMS

They were too good not to be shared, thought the owners, so they bought all four and decorated their own with a mix of vintage and modern pieces

Andy Kay, 63 (project manager Kay Family Trust), Jane Kay, 54 (school guidance counsellor), and Ruby Kay, 25, schoolteacher.

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Every day for months, Andy Kay would drive past the ‘for sale’ sign in front of a bunch of old flats on Mount Maunganui’s main drag and dream about what he and wife Jane could do with the site. It’s easy to understand the appeal – directly across the road from the beach, the property had ocean viewspersonalized teacher signs, was just a short walk from the town centre and, as the site of the infamous Blue Dolphin Motel, represented a little slice of history.

A location that good needed to be shared, the Kays thought, so they purchased the block of dilapidated flats and drew up plans for four apartments, including one for themselves. After living in one of the flats for a year to get a feel for the site, the Kays demolished the structure and started to build the four stylish apartments, each with gorgeous beach views, envisioned by their architect,?Tane Cox.

Nineteen months later, the Kays took their pick of four stunning apartments, which look more like townhouses separated by an internal concrete wall. “It works well – we like the feeling that someone is nearby if needed but mostly we just live our separate lives,” says Andy.

What compromises did you make? Jane: Having to complete our house after we moved in to enable the project to be completed and to get the other houses sold.

Any splurges? The window joinery – but it was worth it for the views; tiled bathrooms and showers; and the kitchen, particularly the stainless-steel bench.

Best advice? Pick your battles. Spend the money on the really important structural features and the rest will follow.

Any mistakes you made on the build? Building four houses at once. Underestimating budgets and timelines. We should have put more thought into wind-protected deck areas and more useful outdoor living.

Total spend? $1.8 million for the build?as a guesstimate.


Jane says she is “hopelessly sentimental” so rarely buys art to collect, but instead looks for pieces that are meaningful. Her favourite works are the ones created by their kids, like the self-portraits in the lounge.



Despite Andy getting stuck in and building all the joinery and cabinet fronts himself, the space ended up being a splurge – but it was worth it, say the enthusiastic entertainers. Andy made the dining table when he and Jane were first married.




Jane’s magpie tendencies see her constantly finding new treasures. “Colours, textures and beautiful fabrics (especially florals) seem to be my go-to,” she explains.




Jane had her heart set on a retro-style tiled bathroom, with vanity tops covered in small mosaic tiles and brass or copper fittings. The result is a real talking point.






Floor plan


Get the look?Vintage map, $119.95,from cushion cover, $49.90, from Paper Plane. Crown Lynn Nautilus Sea vase, $125, from Antiques of Epsom.


Shop their style?Gull lightshade, $130, from Catherine David Designs. Medium drum lampshade, $151.50, from Bolt of Cloth. Kay rattan bar stool, $229, from Freedom. Eden plant hanger, $19.95, from Mocka. Rosewood dining chair, $4500 for?6, from Mr Bigglesworthy. Signature Slope sofa, $1399, from Freedom.

View next gallery: Why Crosson Architects chose to build this Otama bach on stilts View Gallery

Architect Tane Cox at Red Architecture,

Kitchen cabinetry The Kitchen Business,

Tiler Troy, 021 132 7648.

Electrician Reid Electrical, 027 557 9093.

Words by: Debbie Harrison. Photography by: Alice Veysey.

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