sneak peeks

A Minimal and Liveable New Zealand Home By The Beach

by Sabrina Smelko

I often shy away from super-minimal and/or newer-build homes in favor of the charm and comfort of an older home, but blogger, writer and stylist Michelle Halford’s nest may have me taking that back. Surrounded by mature trees and close to the eastern beaches, her home in Auckland, New Zealand delivers on function, comfort and livability.

At the center of Michelle’s busy world is her husband and IT architect Dean Grimmond, her two sons Roman (7) and Marlow (4), and her career. As someone who works from home with two young boys, Michelle’s life and schedule—needless to say—is busy. So it was important to her that her home worked with her lifestyle, not against it. To her, this meant making the big leap to minimal; stripping everything she didn’t need in her surroundings and focusing on the basics. Nestled in Meadowbank, their home was a new build made just for them by boutique building company Property Partners. As soon as she and Dean picked the lot, Michelle didn’t skip a beat and began excitedly planning the design of the interior. She spent months dreaming up what was soon to become a reality, documenting it all on her blog, The Design Chaser. Her passion project took eight months and lots of planning, but the result is stunning. “Having a clear vision definitely made it easier,” Michelle says. “While it could be a little overwhelming at times, I was very decisive and never agonized over all the choices that I had to make when it came to the interior design.” Michelle’s design injects just the right amount of personality and Scandinavian style while still being comfortable and lived-in. Sabrina

Michelle's open concept kitchen/dining/living space is flooded with plenty of light, thanks to the pitched roof, large windows, high ceilings and lighting from Muuto and Eric Therner.
Minimalism is all about functionality. Michelle's favorite day-to-day items are always within arm's reach, nestled in the corner of her Silestone countertop that extends up the wall to form a seamless backsplash. The espresso cups and bowl from Cathérine lovatt for SeraxDesign live in harmony with her Letters Cups and Bowls from Simon James Concept Store and LET LIV.
White kitchens with marble backsplashes and countertops can sometimes look cold, but paired with pale wood bar stools from Mocka, plants and fresh fruit, Michelle's kitchen becomes warm and inviting. Wire fruit bowl from LET LIV.
Michelle admittedly has become a homebody since they moved in, and I don't blame her: Her home is filled with so much light and life!
Michelle's main living room on the second floor features a gallery wall with an ever-changing display of work from her favorite artists such as Father Rabbit, Jane Denton, Nynne Rosenvinge, Playtype, Seventy Tree and Leigh Viner.
The extra-high ceilings allow for plenty of sunlight to stream in from their large windows during the day. The sofa from Freedom Furniture is the perfect backdrop for the fun cushions from Fine Little Day and throw from Kate & Kate X Superette.
The "etc" Seletti Neon art takes on new meaning, standing for "end of thinking capacity." "It seemed fitting for the living room where we unwind and relax," Michelle says.
"The Scandinavian String Shelving System [from Bob and Friends] is the hero piece of this room," says Michelle, and it's hard for me to argue with that. I'd constantly be re-styling the shelves for fun, myself! The "g" poster beside them is from Pop Motif, and the storage sacks underneath are from Superette.
The hallway in the entry of the home, complete with Muuto's Dot hangers and a Jimmy Stand from Mocka NZ.
Having a home office has been a dream come true for Michelle. "Home is also my 'playground' where I can indulge in my love of styling and photography, documenting the journey along the way on my blog and Instagram!"
Michelle's constantly-changing mood board is filled with anything she's inspired by at the moment. "I spend a lot of time here, so I love being surrounded by beautiful things." She hangs papers and magazines from her Mathilda Clahr leather straps from Norsu Interiors.
Michelle and Dean's master bedroom is simple and relaxed. While minimal, it still has everything you'd want in a bedside space; a small surface for books or mugs and a handy Menu Ladder from Simon James Concept Store to toss your clothes or accessories on and a Tolomeo Wall Lamp. The linen bedding from Nest is made even cozier with a wool blanket from Forestry Home X Milo and Mitzy.
Michelle's sons rule the downstairs. Their living area is a fun space for them to work, or simply obsess over their love of Batman and music. I imagine the decision to use a hanging planter over a desk plant or floor planter was intentional with all of the shenanigans the boys must get into. This BOSSKE one is from Simon James Concept Store.
Can you guess whose desk this is? Roman and Marlow's desks are each accented with their own initial and fun postcards from Paper Plane Store and bat decals from One Hundred Percent Heart.
The kids' space is a bit more relaxed and made comfortable with a throw from Shelter 7 and cushions from Citta Design. The picture ledge displays their favorite prints and objects from RK Design, Variety Show Studio, Henry & Co Home and Birdinabunnysuit.
The Scandi-style continues in Marlow's room. "We started with a white canvas and added pops of their favorite colors. I had so much fun styling both their rooms." Marlow's bed from Mocka NZ allows for plenty of storage underneath.
Marlow's hexagonal shadow boxes from Type, which Michelle painted in Resene Black White to match the walls, are perfect for displaying his cute little toys. They're offset by an awesome alphabet print from RK Design.
What little boy wouldn't want Marlow's bedside? (Okay, I want it, too, and I'm a 24-year-old woman.) The Lego storage boxes from Mighty Ape make a great alternative to a beside table.
I love the mixed graphic shapes in Roman's bedroom, like his thunderbolt duvet from Henry & Co Home. There's something endearing about the imperfect triangle decals below his humble shelf holding some precious gifts from when he was born, such as the R Wooden Letter from Madder & Rouge.
The pom-pom garland in Roman's room breaks up the modular quality of his Mocka NZ shelves, which are filled with another healthy dose of Batman, like this print from Pop Factory Shop.

Suggested For You


  • I’m so bummed out by the new design of sneak peaks. The slide show format is really annoying. It takes time to load and the arrows move in position from slide to slide.

  • Beautiful home.. would love to see the facade and backyard!

    On another note, must admit I’m not loving the slideshow either. Doesn’t have the storyline quality of the vertical format (my eyes have to go back and forth from text to image). And website doesn’t adjust to my tablet so I have to drag to see whole image.

  • At first the slideshow format took a bit of getting used to. I just turn my iPad horizontally and it’s totally fine. This house is beautiful, and I do have a soft spot for Scandi style… However the more I see of it the less I can feel the homeowners personality shine through. Too much stylization, not enough real randomness. I’m not sure I would want to “agonize” over a design choice. It’s too staged for my taste. Beauty of a home though.

    • Hi Suzy

      iPads and other tablets typically pull the main version of the site, versus mobile, as the larger screen plays better with that version.

      We didn’t have the budget to design a tablet-only version of the site right now, so we chose to go with mobile and desktop, since that represents 95% of our audience currently (with more and more reading on phones, over desktop and tablets).

      I wish we could afford to make a perfect version for all tablets, so hopefully one day that will be a financial option :)


  • I’m not loving the slide show either but what is really frustrating – NOT so much with this post – is what appears to be a new D*S format of cropping all the images into tiny little close-up shots of vignettes featuring accessories. The photos are great but when looking at a home it’s much nicer to see larger sections of rooms – which this post has done beautifully.

    • Scout

      We are actively working on making sure there aren’t too many vignettes and that are is at least one full room shot of every room in a home we run. It’s tough to get from home owners sometimes because the full room doesn’t read as well as say, 3/4 of it. In the interest of not getting negative comments about personal spaces, we often try to focus on the shots that we think will go over the best with the audience. But we’ve been listening and are acting on those comments that have been registered for a while now. Most of our new home tours running this month and from now on will reflect that change and the general audience desire for more full-room shots. Vignette shots are statistically just as popular (pinned, requested, viewed) as full room shots, so they will always be included, but we are consciously working on making sure there are equal amounts of close-up and full room photos in each tour.


  • This is my first and possibly last blog reply ever. Just not my thing.

    I loved the old format but find the new one fresh, light and inviting. I can’t imagine complaining about the hard work you put into this blog. I enjoy sitting with a cup of tea every day to see what delights you have to show.

    I like full room shots myself but they just don’t always look great and have a way of sucking the life out of a beautiful space.

    Keep up all your hard work- so many of us appreciate everything you do. Happy holidays!

  • If people hadn’t commented about the slide show I’d have missed it – didn’t see it. Please ask your WordPress person to either keep the images the same height or set the DIV to be the same height so it doesn’t bob up and down :-)

    p.s. your link on Facebook went to a draft version..

  • Where can I get that awesome looking desk calendar (?) (It’s an all white book with two thousand fifteen in black block letters on the front) shown in picture 4?

  • I’m with Ede. The time and effort you and the D.S team put into staying current is impressive Grace. Well done on the refresh!
    And yay for seeing an NZ home on the blog – love your work Michelle. x Alice

  • I love the new layout! So fresh and clean. Also awesome to see one of my favourite blog houses on another of my favourite blogs – thanks!

  • I agree with Ede completely! Not much of a commenter but I must add to the positivity here and say though anything new takes some getting used to, it’s a beautiful layout with a perfect color scheme. Thanks for working hard to make it lovely and CONGRATS on the new home!

  • I’m also not that happy with a new design of the site. Apart from all notes that people said about slide show I also annoyed with adds going right in a middle of page and sitting there above text and pictures of articles.

    • Aksinia

      That should never be happening. There’s currently an Ikea ad that’s a roll over (not my favorite type of ad either), but it only expands if you roll over it. If you roll off, the ad removes itself. Is there a different ad you’re talking about? No ads should be appearing over any text or articles. (We’ve always- this is not new to the redesign- had ads between the 1st and 2nd posts of the day)


  • holding mu iPad sideways is always the best way to view this, and most sites. And with no problems I must add. The only thing I miss from old style site was the recap at the bottom so I could quickly check out things I missed recently. But this thread, today, about this home. Not what what’s wrong with D*S. I love it and want it however ai can get it! This home is lovely, and sleek, boy would I like to visit!

  • 1) About the new format…the former was more user friendly as it could be read the old fashion way, just like an article in a magazine.
    2) About this NZ home: OK, but it soo lacks some colour… that some photos seem like in black and white.

  • I actually really enjoy the slideshow format, and the whole redesign. I thought I’d miss the old site with those fun little rolls of ribbon, but your team has done a great job on the update.

  • Hey Grace,
    I hate the way this free blog doesn’t fit my exact standards. I hate change and only like what I’m already used to, even though I hated that at first, too. Please create something only for me, but I don’t want to pay for it, or have it cluttered with advertising. I’m forced to look at this every day and it’s ruining everything.
    Also, I feel “compelled” to “just be honest” and say negative things about other people’s homes that I have also been forced to look at. Clearly my home is better and perfect, but I don’t want to show it to anyone.
    The Innerwebs.

    P.S. thank you for all of your and your team’s hard work. Reading D*S is one of the highlights of my day and I love getting inspiration from what I see on here, whether it’s a home, a product, a DIY, a recipe, a drink – I really appreciate that this blog is put together with such energy and care and that it is so personal. Thank you and Happy New Year!

  • Grace, after all these years and all those other blogs, d*s is still my fave. Thanks for all you bring to our little part of the design world!

  • I think this house is lovely. In fact, it’s kind of what I think my parents should do with their no-ornamentation midcentury ranch home. I think it would be great if (eventually) we could have the option of seeing all images on one page as opposed to just the slideshow option. Some other sites do that (I think Popsugar is one?) and I appreciate the option.

  • I am a long time lover of your blog and lamented the loss of Google Reader as Feedly makes it less pleasant to read your posts – plus it had recently started to freeze on the jump to your site.
    The slideshow is fantastic – it’s quick and the images are perfectly sized without requiring adjustment. Thank you! !

  • I found this through Pinterest when I was searching for some NZ home interior inspiration. Having lived in NZ for 5 years in the 90’s I was feeling a bit nostalgic. But as a Swede I was amazed to see this home! It really looks like a Swedish home, and most of the details in that home are indeed Swedish (like the String shelves, the cushions and the Cross blanket by Pia Wallén). So, a lovely home but quite unexpected! ?