Architect: Evelyn McNamara of EMA
Photographer: Simon Devitt

The rugged west coast of New Zealand has long been a muse for many designers, but rarely does a residence emerge that not only respects its natural environment but also gracefully blends within it. The New Plymouth House, envisioned by Evelyn McNamara and her team at EMA, is one masterpiece that deftly balances its coastal surroundings with modern sophistication. It is pure coastal divinity—a space curated for relaxation, for decompression after a bustling day.

At the heart of McNamara’s approach was a deep appreciation of light and its power to influence mood, especially the warmth-enhancing capabilities of Tru-Colour® technology.

Positioned on the wild, rugged coastline, New Plymouth in New Zealand offers breathtaking views. The ocean stretches infinitely, punctuated occasionally by iconic landmarks. When Evelyn McNamara of EMA was tasked with designing a residence in such an awe-inspiring locale, she recognised the importance of capturing these external vistas and translating them seamlessly into the living space. This pursuit of harmony resulted in the New Plymouth House, a modern marvel that marries the serenity of its location with contemporary luxury.

Within New Plymouth House, EMA has masterfully integrated various timbers, each contributing its distinct character and texture to the interiors. As daylight wanes, the home transforms. The unique properties of Tru-Colour® come to the fore, enhancing the timber’s warmth, making spaces feel like a “warm embrace” and less like the “clinical” lighting found in other homes. 

Brightgreen’s Tru-Colour® technology—the world’s highest light quality—imitates sunlight, providing spaces like the New Plymouth House with accurate and vivid colour representation. Every detail, from timber grain to fabric hue, is brought to life in its truest form, making spaces look and feel undeniably stunning and human-centred.

In a recent conversation with Brightgreen, Evelyn McNamara delved deep into the design choices, the challenges faced, and the pivotal role of Tru-Colour® lights in achieving the desired ambience—in a way that resonates with the heartbeat of this coastal wonderland.

Brightgreen (BG): The experience of the space is very calm, nourishing and even dreamy in some areas. Was this one of the goals for the space and the clients?

Evelyn McNamara (EM): Yes. The client’s brief was to create a sense of calm within the home, which is one of my core design principles. I try to create spaces that feel restful and as though you’re coming home to a space curated for relaxation in order to decompress from your busy day.

BG: The use of darkness and the soft lustre of materials creates mystery and helps frame areas of focus and highlight. How did you achieve this?

EM: It was a real challenge to ensure that the three to four different timbers we used in the home worked together. There is a balance achieved through warmth, texture and light. The timber ceiling, in particular, just somehow feels like a warmth on your shoulders, which is delightful. The soft furnishings and curtains also help soften the space’s darker areas, while good lighting does this at night. The lighting in the home enhances the warmth of the timbers, which creates a relaxed aesthetic.

BG: What challenges did you encounter on this project?

EM: We worked hard to ensure the fireplace feature in the living area incorporated the air conditioning and a hidden TV while still looking beautiful, this was a real challenge, but the end result makes the space. The fireplace elevation looks curated and balanced. The wall is softly lit, while the hearth has a soft light under it to enhance the floating effect.

BG: It is a beautiful use of natural materials paired with the high R9 values of the Tru-Colour® lights. Was that intentional?

EM: Yes. We wanted this home to feel like a warm embrace, the opposite of clinical / gallery lighting. The selection of lighting was a hugely important part of creating this effect at night time. The timbers do it on their own during the day, so we wanted a natural light on them at night, but a light that enhanced warmth.

The New Plymouth House by EMA is a synthesis of modern design and the pinnacle of lighting technology—Tru-Colour®. The residence highlights the importance of lighting in enhancing natural materials and creating ambient, intimate spaces. If you’ve been inspired by this blend of coastal divinity and advanced lighting, reach out to Brightgreen. When impeccable design meets perfect lighting, spaces don’t merely exist—they deeply resonate.