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How Ruth and Cardell Got A House That Helped To Increase Their Happiness & Provided Ongoing Joy For Decades (And How You Can Too!)

Spend anywhere from $15,000+ on a room refresh / minor home improvement project, to $300,000+ on a major renovation, and you should expect a return on your investment (ROI).

Assuming you are not about to sell the home, this return on investment should be long-lasting and personal to you and your “other-half”, who also shares the space… agree?

In 1995, Kristina Cope, an architect at Earth Building South Pacific, met Ruth Foubister and Cardell Fisher, who wanted an earth home designed for their new property in Auckland. Kristina tried a different approach when engaging with her new client.

She went way beyond the time an architect (or interior designer) spent then or even today documenting a truly in-depth home project design brief for her clients.

She dug deep into her clients' wants, desires, and needs and delved into what styles and colours (what is now called formally called design psychology and colour psychology) her clients loved, hated, or more importantly, harmonised with. The process was laborious and very time-consuming. She estimated she spent well over 50+ unbillable hours at the time.

The result 22 years later? Two homeowners who have had an ongoing love affair with their home in many ways for decades. Photos are of the home today (styled for selling – and all personal items and paintings have been removed).

When Kristina last spoke to Ruth, these were her thoughts about the house and interior, reflecting back over the decades.

An interior photo of Ruth and Cardell's home that Kristina designed for them.
An interior photo of Ruth and Cardell's home that Kristina designed for them. (NOTE: The look feel, colours, design may not be YOU - but you didn't live here 🙂 The key is you having a home that resonates with you (not me as a designer).

“Kristina took into consideration all of our desires for a house. We wanted to minimise the amount of external heat energy needed to keep it warm in winter and cool in summer – however, we had heard about houses that overheat in summer and are dark and dreary in winter.”

Kristina guided us towards “having an insulated concrete pad on the floor extending out beyond the edge of the house. Deep verandahs protect the house and occupants from the summer sun and winter rain, but allow the low sun to penetrate in the colder months.”

Because Cardell was a DIYer and keen to be actively involved in the construction, he made all of the mud earth bricks that make up all of the walls.

“The walls are good at retaining heat — in the winter it gets down to 14 or 15 degrees, in summer it's only late teens, even when it's in the 20s outside. Apart from the Stanley [wood burning stove] in the kitchen, we don't have another fire or heater in the winter.”

We love the warmth of wood, so we “chose and specified Japanese cedar from a timber yard up the road for the striking sarked cathedral ceilings, with a mix of timber and aluminium for the windows and doors.”

When it came to interior design, “We like simplicity in both design and accessories.” (Today we call this interior design style ‘minimalist'). “We wanted the ability to ‘sit and soak in the sun', so Kristina designed window seats in the living room and bedroom [which] provide more cosy sun spots around the house. But, we did not want to overheat in summer, so Kristina designed bi-fold doors to open up the living and bedrooms to expand breezy summer living to the courtyard.”

“I was not riding horses anymore, and this property has a wonderful mix of uses, with separate barns for my horses and extensive gardens. After 22 years, it was time to move to a smaller property.”

Indoor - outdoor flow was very important for Kristina's client. Cool in summer and warm in winter.
Indoor - outdoor flow was very important for Kristina's client. Cool in summer and warm in winter.

“We absolutely love the attention to detail that screams ‘us’ built into the home. Every time I walked into the home [from being away], the home provided me with an uplifting feeling. We have always appreciated the time that Kristina put into really understanding Cardell and I when designing this home.”

As a homemaker, we tend to rush into making decisions when it comes to deciding the look and feel of an up-and-coming room makeover or build-from-scratch, or allowing an architect or interior designer to make too many important decisions.


In hindsight, a homemaker should have significant input on all major decisions on design style and decor. The consequences of not knowing your ‘design personality’ and being able to articulate it succinctly to any third party (design professional, builder, painter, etc.) can be dire and long-lasting. (‘Click here. to see how this affects your bank balance and how it impacts your well-being).


Would you like to nearly guarantee that in 5, 10, 15, or 20+ years from now, you will still be totally in love with your room makeover, major renovation, or built-from-scratch new home?


Are you a DIYer or want to work with your local interior designer or architect and get similar ongoing love and affection for your home improvement project?


Over the decades since working with Ruth and Cardell (and 100’s of clients), Kristina has done formal research and created a proven system to ensure that you can also join the elite 24.6% of homemakers who receive increased happiness and feelings of ongoing love from their renovation, room refresh or build-from-new. In doing so, Kristina also enables you to save up to 29.6% of your home improvement budget without becoming overwhelmed, stressed, or misunderstood – whether you are DIY or use a design professional.


Kristina systemised this into ‘The Austin Home Design Method' and created your ‘Unique Home Design Personality’ course.


You can be based anywhere in the world, and you don’t have to incur 40+ billable hours with your local design professional (e.g., architect or interior designer)! 


How Do You Start?
Step 1: Download this free, valuable room improvement resource that Kristina developed after working with hundreds of clients as an architect, then again as an interior designer, and then again as a kitchen designer over the last 30+ years.


Step 2: Learn more here about your ‘Unique Home Design Personalitysolution made for the modern, flexible hybrid world you live in.


Got questions? Please ask!