A Frame House, Hanmer Springs, NZ

A Frame House was born some time in 1970 a few months after I was born in the dying weeks of the 1960’s. Little did I know then that I was on a collision course with this little A-frame building. Growing up in New Zealand in the 1970’s I would have to say that on the whole we were generally not exposed to interesting architecture. I grew up in a suburban 1960’s house, in a subdivision of similar one story and split-level houses on suburban sections, with box like rooms and regular layouts. Two things happened in those formative years however that influenced my love of more interesting houses and specifically A-frames.

Firstly, during the 70’s, my aunty and uncle decided to build a holiday house and they chose an A-frame style so they could do this on a budget. They built it in a seaside community and we had several family trips there, sometimes with a large number of my extended family. The house shape fascinated me as a child – particularly the peaked roof line on the second story and the little loft bed high in the peak at one end. I remember feeling carefree in that house and having family all around. My grandfather turned the balusters for the staircase and we had an “official” ribbon cutting ceremony to open the new stairs. My aunt and uncle sold the house in the early 80’s and it faded into the back of my memory as life moved on.

The second influence of interesting architecture was from my time spent in another 1970’s architecturally designed holiday house built by my best friend’s parents. It had a steep mono pitched roof with a long front wall of windows and sliding doors, and bedrooms in a mezzanine area high in the peak of the roof pitch. It was so different from anything we were used to and I have vivid memories of staying there. I can close my eyes and be transported back and remember the pleasure in various quirky features like the round window by the front entrance and the view from the mezzanine over the living area. As I grew older I have remained interested in houses and my husband and I have ended up building a modern house with a monopitch roof and lots of windows reminiscent of my friend’s family crib and I thought this was where my architectural journey had been leading me to. Then several years ago when my aunt and uncle’s old A-frame came up for sale, and my cousin suggested we could all pitch in and buy it, it got me thinking about how I would love to own it ourselves – but this was too far away for us to easily get too and we weren’t in a position to buy then. The seed was planted! I started a Pinterest board of A-frames and got increasingly excited about the seeming resurgence of interest in these buildings with some interesting renovations and I started to get a germ of an idea. A nearby alpine holiday town that we often go to has 2 little A-frames on the main road going in and I started dreaming about the idea that one of those would be worth aiming for. To me A-frames seem very fitting for an alpine setting. I quietly watched the real estate pages, unbeknownst to my husband, and in October 2018 when a little A-frame house located in this little town did pop up in my search my heart leapt. It looked perfect and it was not on the main road! I occasionally checked up on it over the next 3 months and when it came time to holiday there in the summer holidays of January 2019, and it was still for sale, I couldn’t resist arranging to check it out – much to my husband’s surprise.One thing led to another and before we knew it we were the proud owners of this little A-frame house from the 1970’s – one of our very own!

What I love about this house I think my 6 foot husband finds annoying sometimes, such as the angled walls, but to me it feels cosy and enveloping and just like being in a pitched tent – perfect for holidays and hibernating. It needs some renovating to freshen it up but I have always loved planning and renovating and seeing the transformation. Being a little house and one with odd angles there is the added challenge of maximising storage space in the perceived dead space. The inspiration I get from other people in the A-frame family on Instagram keeps me planning and full of ideas. Things have been slower to move than I initially hoped for as we it rented to start with then my husband became unwell with brain cancer and we have been busy dealing with that, raising 3 teenagers and holding down jobs while looking after our 10 acre property at home. This little A-frame house has become a place of refuge that I love heading to as there are thermal hotpools a short walk away and many beautiful forest walks to enjoy. A thriving small township and the perpetual holiday feel to the place rounds it off. We eventually plan to list it as a short term rental so we can share it with others but in the meantime we thought we would aim to enjoy its retro feel and quirky style sharing it with family and friends to start with.

When setting up my Instagram account I played with ideas for what to call it and settled on the simple @a.frame.house This ended up being perfect as it is exactly what it is and because our family name is Frame so it really is A Frame House. I am not sure how it is that this little triangle building has got so far under my skin – maybe because of the emotion staying in an A-frame evokes of my carefree childhood days staying in one. Maybe because of the emotional time we have been going through since we bought it. Maybe because it has provided some welcome distraction and somewhere to escape to. It has a feel to me that was there the moment I spotted the real estate listing which was still there the day we went to check it out for the first time. Fate led us on that collision course between this little 50 year old A-frame house and its only slightly older owners and I couldn’t be more pleased!

Come follow us on our journey as we slowly shape this property into a place of our own and see for yourself how it has led to my obsession with seeing triangles wherever I look! I’d love to see you there @a.frame.house and hope it feeds your passion for all things A- frame too!

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