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Originally settled by Europeans in 1848, the Otago region boomed from the 1860s with the discovery of gold. Once the gold rush subsided the region settled into sheep farming. Since the 1990s, primary industries have diversified with many sheep farms converting to dairy and an increasing number of vineyards coming on stream, which has seen the area garner a reputation for being the country’s best pinot noir region.

For the owner of this new house, a winemaker, the goal was for a home that would create a sense of separation from work.

“The client works at one of the Gibbston wineries, so needed a base within striking distance of the vineyard but that also felt a world removed from the day-to-day complexities of working life.

“The house needed to be a comfortable retreat but also low maintenance and practical. The client often arrives home directly from the vineyard, so wanted to be able to ditch her work clothes before seeking refuge in the home.

“To achieve this, the entry feels very much like an outside space, with a laundry/mudroom situated on a landing halfway up the stairs. This space also incorporates an 'underground' wine storage area.”

Located at the end of a lane, the design of the house is a response to the site and the client’s brief for there to be a separation of different functions within the house. The plan reads as two connected yet diverging two-storey forms with living in one form and bedrooms in the other; the kitchen is situated in the connecting element.

“You approach the property on the lower level and are met by three open voids. On the left hand side is the front door and a carport, in the middle is a second car port and on the right is a wood shed and garden tools storage. The design follows the contours of the site, so there was very little excavation needed, rather we just nudged the house into the natural contour.

“Once inside, past the landing, you come to a guest room with loft, to your left; the kitchen and open-plan living straight ahead; and, main bedroom with walk-in wardrobe and ensuite, along with a second bathroom down a short hallway to the right.

“We placed the kitchen centrally within the plan as it is programmatically and figuratively the ‘heart of the home’. Doing this also enabled the kitchen to share in the magnificent views. As well as the physical placement of the kitchen, we have also ‘separated’ it from the rest of the scheme by using different materials on the ceiling and floor.”

Despite its diminutive size, Stacey says the house is ‘big’ on what it offers as a home.

“It’s only 115m2 but it functions incredibly well for the client’s needs. Privacy was a big driver for the design. There are neighbours within close proximity, so sightlines have been carefully managed to minimise the visual encroachment of built objects.

“It is also very comfortable. We managed to squeeze a bath into the ensuite by cantilevering it over the stairs. At first, the client wasn’t overly fazed by the idea of having a bath but now she absolutely loves it. We’ve also incorporated smart home technology including remote controlled central heating and the home is very energy efficient.

There are also two outdoor spaces—a north-facing balcony and, off the dining area, a small wedge of deck leads onto a south-facing patio. Access to the balcony is from the living area and the main bedroom.

“The client wanted a low-maintenance home, so externally we went with long-run steel and cedar weatherboards and fibre-cement panels, both finished with a clear seal. The panels were also used for the patio. Inside, the kitchen bench is made from concrete and the island is a table-like structure, the design of which lends it a lightweight feel, so that it doesn’t feel like a solid element within the space, adding to the feeling of a light and airy home.”

Project completed in 2020.

Words by Justin Foote
Photography by Ben Ruffell

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Home for a Winemaker

About the

staceyfarrell.com is an award-winning boutique studio lead by Stacey Farrell- an Architect who strives to produce remarkable bespoke architecture from offices in Queenstown, New Zealand and Sydney, Australia. She works intensively with local and international clients on projects of all types, locations, scales, and budgets.

Stacey graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture from Auckland University in 1995. She has been a Registered Architect since 1998. The design focused studio leverages this latitude of experience to deliver truly special spaces suited for each and every client and site.

Stacey is a member of the New Zealand Registered Architects Board, and the New Zealand Architects Co-operative Society.

Stacey has also been a NZIA Local Awards Juror and Jury Convenor.


The Black House won Green Home of the Year 2022. Home Magazine.

The Coast House won Green Home of the Year 2021. Home Magazine.

The Coast House was a finalist in the Colorsteel Awards 2021.

Home for a Winemaker was a finalist in the 2020 TIDA New Zealand Architect-Designed Kitchen awards.

The Black House part one was awarded a NZIA Southern Architecture Award.

The Black House part one was a finalist in House of the Year. NZ Living Channel.

Speargrass Flat Road was a Finalist in Cavalier Bremworth UnBuilt Architecture Awards 2012.


"Big House Small House - New Homes by New Zealand Architects" by John Walsh and Patrick Reynolds.

"Small House Living - Inspiring New Zealand Houses Less Than 90m2" by Catherine Foster.

*Wallpaper, The Local Project, Home Magazine, Pendulum, NZ Life and Leisure, Urbis, NZ House and Garden, Architecture NZ, The Australian Women's Weekly, New Zealand Herald, Canvas magazine, ProDesign, Remix, Alfresco, Interior Detail(s), New Zealand on Holiday, New Zealand Retail Business Magazine


Extreme Homes HGTV USA, NZ Living Channel House of the Year.