What's the story behind your home?
It is rather an unusual story as I fell in love with our house twice, the first time over seventeen years ago and the second time just over two years ago. The first time we bought the house our daughters were very young – Madeline aged three and Asta aged one. George arrived two years later. They are now 19, 17 and 14. The house was designed in the 1930’s by Heathcote Helmore and, to me, is the perfect house in that it had beautiful proportions and was elegant and graceful. Situated in a quiet cul-de-sac off Papanui Road in Merivale it was close to our first Christchurch shop, my husband’s restaurant and near the preschool and schools that our children would eventually go to.
The house had been converted into an upmarket B&B so the kitchen and bathrooms had been renovated but the original charm of the house was still very much intact. The layout has remained the same to this day but it has gone through three redecorations. It has a traditional older style floor plan with a wide hallway and staircase, a study, drawing room and dining room but with a very large family room, two bedrooms and washhouse added on around twenty five years ago. Upstairs there are three bedrooms with attached bathrooms.
Recently we have rewired, installed a heating system and new lighting system and repainted the inside of the entire house. We are shortly about to embark on a garden project to plant more trees and have more grassed areas.
Have you finished making your house a home?
My inspiration always has been my family houses and I wanted to recreate those looks and style within my own house and always top of mind is to make our house comfortable for our family. I wanted our house to feel light, spacious and calm. I have always loved the combination of very crisp white woodwork and chalky colours so the second time we bought the house I decorated it exactly how I had always wanted to. Not many people are lucky enough to get a second chance. We used Resene’s ‘black white’ for the woodwork and a few of the bedrooms. After months of my daughter and I painting from test pots I found the shade of blue, green and yellow that were perfect for the house. Our drawing room and dining room are painted a sort of ‘granny smith‘ green which was rather brave but I am thrilled with the result as both rooms look out to our garden so somehow the green with green looks good. I love the blue also and have that in the hallways. In fact, now I think about it, most of the rooms in the house are colours and only a few are white. I’ve used very clear chalky colours that are not in fashion but suit the house and look really good with the antiques and the gold framed mirrors and pictures I have been collecting since I was in my early twenties.
I always have house projects on the go and recently painted my front door Red, something I’ve always wanted and it looks fabulous! I’m just about to paint our study Emerald Green – another colour I’ve wanted in my house for years. One day I would love to freshen up the kitchen and I do have to find some curtain fabric for the family room as I’m not keen on the blinds that are there but I like to have things to look forward to and fiddling around with the house is one of them. I love fabrics and my taste has remained very constant over the years, Ralph Lauren stripes, Colefax and Fowler Chintz, less expensive linens and chambrays when I’ve needed large volumes of fabric.
What products do you love from other companies?
I’m so fortunate that so much of the Redcurrent product has always looked good in our homes. I’ve also been able to get candles and diffusers from Ecoya and Glasshouse and I’m constantly burning the samples, much to the annoyance of my husband. I’m a long term fragrance addict and really feel calm and relaxed when I have a candle burning. One thing I have never been able to find is bedding that I truly love so, with that in mind, twenty years after opening Redcurrent we are launching our own bedding range. I’m super excited about this and can’t wait to fill up our bedrooms with our own beautifully designed linens, 100% cotton and luxurious velvets. We have recently expanded our design and buying team so we can source more beautiful homeware and products that are the best possible quality at an affordable price. When we buy something for Redcurrent we always ask ‘will this stand the test of time’ and 'what will this add to our customers life or look.'
What’s Your Sunniest Space?
I love any room where the sun is streaming in – particularly the drawing room which gets a lot of winter sun. My idea of heaven is lying on the sofa or sitting in the armchair with my feet up on the footstool getting my daily dose of inspiration from reading or online.
How do you entertain at home? What do you like cooking?
Now our children are older and it’s not cooking endless rounds of ‘kid’s dinners’, I’m enjoying cooking again. I cook very simply during the week and try and get to my husbands restaurant for super delicious food and a night away from the oven! In the weekends I like to cook for friends and family and almost find it easier cooking for ten than two. I particularly like cooking in advance so I can have maximum fun with our guests.
I’m a bit of a Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver fan and Annabel Langbein makes a great standby also. Cooking in advance is my speciality so I can have fun with our guests. Over lockdown I’ve been loving Hendrick’s gin with Fever Tree tonic, lots of lemon and ice. I’m pretty keen on Absolute Vodka and 42 below Vodka also. Now we’re out of lockdown I’m trying to buy all NZ made so I’m on the hunt for a NZ gin. I love Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. In summer I drink a lot more bubbly the quality of which which varies depending on my budget!
Share Your Top Reads With Us
When I have the time I love reading and have been a voracious reader since I left school. I’m somewhat of an Anglophile and read a lot of English magazines as I’m fascinated with English style and I think the English are the experts at the relaxed and comfortable look. I subscribe to Interiors, English House & Garden and Country Life. I have a lot of decorating books but my favourite are invariably by Ralph Lauren and Allegra Hicks. My all time favourite is English Country by Christopher Simon Skyes (sadly now out of print). I’m a big fan of The Land Gardeners book by Bridget Elworthy and Henrietta Courtauld.
How Have You Managed Working From Home And Do You Have Any Tips For Others Working From Home?
Like many others I have been working from home for the last eight weeks and I have really enjoyed it. I’ve always worked from home part-time but now I’m transitioning to working from home almost full-time.
Our drawing room is quiet, light and sunny so I quickly put my hand up for it. I transformed the table behind the sofa into my desk and put my laptop there with a few working files and a tray for lipsticks and the inevitable candle. The nearest chest of drawers became my filing cabinet so everything was put away and tidy. I can’t concentrate if I have mess or noise around me so I brought some noise cancelling headphones to cancel out the teenagers noise.
I’m pretty structured and disciplined but lockdown was a real challenge. Long days full of endless zoom calls but I did always get out for a walk late afternoon to avoid the brain fog that would inevitably set in. I still laugh and tell my friends I was either chained to zoom or chained to the oven feeding a family of five.
What’s The First Thing You Do When You Get Up In The Morning?
It’s a bad habit but first thing I do is check my emails, diary and Instagram while I lie in bed and I think through the day ahead. I try to go for a quick walk or do Yoga or Pilates before I tackle a big workday. If I haven’t been able to exercise in the morning I will always walk around 4pm. I often then have an early dinner with my family and work in the evening otherwise I totally unwind in front of Netflix, or better, go out.
What Do You Consider Makes A Good Host And Good Party?
I love making the house feel really welcoming and comfortable with simple flowers, good music, handpicked flowers, lots of lit candles and plenty of good food and drinks. I always set up a bar with lots of ice in a champagne bucket, bottles, glasses, sliced lemons, all ready to go. Friends love to be able to pour themselves a drink rather than having to wait for a refill. A beautifully set table with candles, sparkly glasses, old mismatched china, linen table napkins – it’s all the feeling that someone has taken the time to make something beautiful – a place you want to linger at and an evening that you will remember.
What Did You Miss During Lockdown?
Many things but particularly I missed seeing friends, seeing our clever team at Head Office, and chatting to our Store Managers. I also missed the inspiration of travel and talking to new people.
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