Heather Owens.

Project : The Gatekeeper


My name is Heather Owens and my husband Martin and I have two teenaged daughters.

I met Charissa Snijders in 2010 on Waiheke Island where we started an enjoyable journey that has cumulated in a unique and beautiful home for my family to enjoy.

Our new house has thoughtful warm spaces, coloured glass features, humble white washed pine walls, and a concrete floor which echoes the sandy beaches of Waiheke. However, the most inimitable quality of this home is the complete harmony with which this new building binds to the land.

One cannot visit this place without noticing the integral relationship and connection of the land to the building.

I love this! Charissa and I started this project with a visit to the site and just sat in the long grass paddock with the sheep all around us.  We sat there for quite some time talking, listening, looking and watching the animal activity around the farm.  Goodness knows what was going on in her head at this time but she listened to everything I talked about. This was an idealistic rant from me, trying to convey what was important for this land and this house.  She hears between the words and between the unspoken feelings.

Together we produced a brief for ourselves that became the working document that we consulted many times though the building and planning.

It wasn’t long before Charissa was handing over drawings and concepts for this house.  It was not what I expected and everything I wanted!

Charissa considers everything. She thinks about detail in almost Nano sized bits while retaining the entire concept at the same time. She pushed me and kept pushing me about all the details as the job progressed, but didn’t bother me with the things I didn’t need to know about. Charissa included me in meetings with other professionals.  She always has a plan and a list of jobs with a time-line.  She is organized, pro-active and encouraging.

When we hit problems in our build, which is absolutely part of the process, we simply went back to our brief, back to the bottom line and had a re-think. This worked for all problems and decisions.

If you are considering having a home designed by CSA get ready for something special to happen. Fight for her, or wait for her if she is to busy, or beg her not to go on holiday, or get married, or have a baby, or move overseas. Fight to get her because you will never be the same again and you will live happily ever after in your new home. She has a soy latte no sugar.