When reality TV sweethearts Art Green and Matilda Rice received the keys to their first house, two things hit home for the proud new property owners.
First was the shock of owing a significant sum of money to the bank, but this was quickly followed by a far more exciting revelation – they were finally ready to start their family!
"Art and I always knew that one day we wanted to be parents, but it never felt real until now," beams Matilda as she and her hubby-to-be invite Woman's Day into their Warkworth home, an hour's drive north of Auckland.
Watch: Art and Matilda's love story. Article continues below.
"With our wedding so close, becoming homeowners is like a final piece of the puzzle and has really just cemented how much we love the life we've built together.
"The last few years have been about travel and seeing the world, and working super-hard to grow our businesses and save money. Now that we've reached our goal of buying a home, we feel really settled and ready for the next chapter in our relationship – marriage, renovations, and mini Art and Matildas!"
With excitement at fever pitch, just the mere thought of parenting has the happy couple in planning mode – they've even kick-started the often-problematic process of deciding on baby names they both like.
"For a bit of fun, we downloaded an app – it's a bit like Tinder but for soon-to-be parents," jokes Art. "It serves you hundreds of names and you swipe right for the ones you like. If you both swipe yes to the same name, it sends you an alert."
While the young couple – who famously found each other on New Zealand's first season of The Bachelor – are staying tight-lipped on potential monikers for their future children, Art and Matilda are candid about the lifestyle they want their kids to experience.
"They'll be free-range babies for sure," says Art. "We really want our kids to grow up surrounded by nature and, as a family, living off the land as best we can."
Indeed, the Kiwi power couple – who started Paleo meal-delivery service Plate Up in 2018 – say their main motivation for moving out of Auckland was to realise their dream of living self-sufficiently.
Gym junkie Art, who also owns wholefoods company Clean Paleo, has long been mindful of his relationship with food and where it comes from, a passion that has rubbed off on his partner during their time together.
"The healthiest thing you can do is live off the land – from garden to plate," asserts Matilda, who in 2017 penned The Lazy Girl's Guide to Living a Beautiful Life, a self-help manual to having it all.
"As part of an holistic lifestyle, it's important to have a healthy relationship with food, and know where it comes from, how it's grown and cared for. It's something I'm learning and working on every day, which is why it's so important that our kids can experience it from a young age."
With sustainability in mind, the leafy-green backyard was the major drawcard of their 19th century, four-bedroom villa, which the couple describe as "pokey but full of potential".
With a string of owners before them, the home's interior is a hodgepodge of unfinished renovations and very questionable wallpaper, but the duo love it all the same.
"From the moment we moved in, we both got such a warm, fuzzy feeling – it immediately felt like home," says Matilda.
"It's a funny little place, full of character and many different paint jobs. We're looking forward to slowly sprucing up the whole place and making it our own. But for now, we're starting small and focusing on smaller projects, which suit our limited expertise and budget."
Starting in the yard, the green thumbs have ripped out the overgrown garden and built a chook run to house their new feathered flatmates, five chickens named Moira, Deborah, Linda, Tanya and Susan.
Giggling as she recalls the very traditional clutch of names, Matilda says, "There's just something about hens that reminds me of middle-aged women gossiping, so we settled on some classic female names. If this gaggle of gals isn't a gossip circle, I don't know what it is!"
Art adds, "The chickens are hilarious. In only four days, they've already produced four eggs. We think they're all from Linda – Linda the layer."
With certain business commitments still based in Auckland, the couple do the 50-minute commute to the city two to three times a week. They say they get the best of both worlds, but after a day's work in the CBD, Art and Matilda can't wait to return to their sleepy spot up north.
"Warkworth has that real small-town beachy vibe to it, which we love," says Matilda, who was over the moon to be moving closer to her mum, who's now just a 10-minute drive away.
"When we moved in, all our neighbours came around and introduced themselves – some even brought fresh scallops and snapper. We never really felt that sense of community living in Auckland."
"We're having fun exploring the area," adds Art, who has fond memories of Warkworth and its nearby beaches, having holidayed there as a kid.
"We think we've found the best coffee spot and a restaurant for date night, and we love having the Matakana markets so close. We've even found a great gym, which works for both of us."
With a wedding, home renovations and the exciting prospect of starting a family all on the horizon, 2019 is shaping up to be super-busy for the couple. They're also hosting a podcast called Well & Good with Art & Matilda, which is all about health and wellness.
And it's the year Matilda's taking to the stage on Three's reality series Dancing with the Stars. But the extra challenges won't rattle them or their relationship.
"Art and I thrive on getting stuff done," tells Matilda. "We can both be quite impulsive and when we get excited about something, we dive right in. Art and I truly are a team in everything that we do – in business and in our relationship. We are each other's biggest supporters and love seeing each other reaching our goals."
Adds Art, "It's definitely a busy year, but also a pretty epic one – marrying my best friend, renovating our first home and starting a family. Bring it on!"
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