Herriot Melhuish O’Neill Architects - Wellington, Christchurch, Auckland, Tauranga

Hunkered down in an HMOA House: Peka Peka Lockdown

May 3, 2020

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While a lot of us are spending lockdown dreaming of that kitchen or bathroom alteration (or home studio), some HMOA clients have been happily holed-up in a home designed just for them.

Peka Peka II house

HMOA's Peka Peka II is a holiday house on the Kapiti Coast that was designed to one day be a permanent residence. The owners use it as a weekender but during lockdown—along with their son (who just scraped in on a flight back from university), a pheasant-hunting spaniel and an ageing border terrier—they've spent more time in the house than ever before. We asked them how it's been going. 

What have you noticed you love most about your HMOA house?

The house is designed to fit perfectly into its environment, it respects the natural landscape and works in sympathy with it. This makes for peaceful living. I used to think we felt this way because the house is a place of leisure for us, our holiday home. But that sense of peace hasn’t change despite the fact we're now working very hard here.


The design is simple and understated. It suits us well, we don’t do flashy.

archello copy v2

We have been slowly working towards spending more time here, with the balance shifting to less in our Wellington home. This enforced period has been a good test of what it would be like to be here full-time.  

What's your favourite space in the house?

The master bedroom has fantastic afternoon sun. It's warm and peaceful, somewhere we can be away from others without feeling shut away and disconnected. There's a corner chair that's a favourite for coffee and breakfast with view.

Peka Peka house. Wellington architect

How has the house accommodated you both working from home?

We've converted the upstairs bedroom into office space for both of us. So we've been spending a lot of time up there, which we never really have before. The room has a wonderful outlook onto the kānuka and the windows can be open to the sounds of tui. 

Peka Peka House upstairs bedroom

We're really appreciating the views and the sounds, and there's even enough space to accommodate online Pilates! 

Anything you wish you'd done differently in the original design?

With three of us here now, the snug is being very well-used for Netflix, and feeling very snug indeed. It's perfect for just the two of us but it would be nice right now to have a little more space, especially as two of the three of us are over six foot! 

How have you spent your days during lockdown?

We were initially incredibly busy getting up to speed with working remotely, although it’s calming down a bit now.

We always start the day with a walk on the beach with the dogs, and there's been various other exercise going on—cycling, running, yoga on the spacious deck. The surf came right at the end of Level 4 so our son managed to get out with his board. He has also been tinkering in the garage, making things from wood offcuts. The tui love the new bird feeder he's made.

Peka Peka House II blog HMOA

There's been some chores going on, like gardening and cleaning out the gutters.

HMOA blog peka peka House II v2

We've been ordering coffee and a bit of food online, the local Penray Gardens have been delivering fantastic fresh vegetables. There's also been some impressive meals coming out of that well-designed kitchen. 

Peka Peka house kitchen

What was it like working with an architect on your new house?

We worked very closely with John Melhuish throughout the process and also with Olly Markham. They had a good understanding of the sort of space we wanted to live in and we enjoyed our meetings and being presented with ideas and concepts. I especially appreciated the 3D views, they made it easier to understand. I’m not the best at reading plans but did improve over the process!

Would you build a new architecturally-designed house again?

We don’t need to! But yes, if we were in a different situation there is a lot to be gained from working with an architect, who has the design skills and experience to create a unique home for you. It goes both ways, the architect needs to understand what you want, and vice versa. Good communication is vital.

We are both very happy and feel we got it right.