Favourite Space | Kelly Davis

It's great to be able to kick off 2018 with one of our 'favourite space' posts, and we know you're going to love this one belonging to Kelly Davis. Kelly and her husband, Julian (or Jules as Kelly calls him), own Davcon, a building company specialising in high quality new homes, home alterations, and commercial work throughout Hawke's Bay.

Kelly and Jules worked with architect, Graeme Weaver, when it came to building their own family home in the Esk Hills two years ago, which they share with their three young sons, Louis (10 yrs), and twins, Felix and Rocco (9 yrs).

Kelly's favourite space is her 'mustard room', a living room which she likes to call her own. A feminine space where she encourages children not to venture. With beautiful views to the outdoors, it enjoys the last of the day's sun, and is cosy in the cooler months with the help of the very cool concrete fireplace.

Although feminine, the room also has an edginess to it with it's bold mustard carpet and dark walls. Kelly always knew she wanted this room when they started the design, but her main fear was that it would end up looking like a bumblebee. With the help of two of her friends, Hannah and Ana, who also have great design sense, Kelly chose a charcoal paint colour to team with the carpet. The strong contrast is then softened with Chesterfield-style sofas, a Chiang Mai coffee table, and layers of cushions, candles, flowers and accessories.

Time for our Q&A's so we can get to know Kelly a little better...

Tell us about your favourite space, and what you most love about it?

I love my “mustard room” because it’s quite a feminine space, which surprises me when it has such bold colours. But with a house full of boys (even the cat’s male) I wanted a gentle, feminine area somewhere in the house, and it has evolved into that. I love having fresh flowers, lighting a candle, and just hanging out in it whenever I get the chance. It’s a “no wrestling zone”. 😊

What’s your favourite time of the day?

I love it in the afternoon when I’ve picked the kids up from school. If we have no after-school activities, I often go into the mustard room, as it’s the sunny part of the house at that time, and fold the washing!

A morning yoga class straight after the school drop-off is also a lovely time of day.

Who or what inspires you?

I love people who march to the beat of their own drum, whether it’s artistically or musically. People who just have that inner knowledge that what they’re doing is right for them, so they just go about doing their thing 100% authentically.

What are you reading/listening to right now?

When I don’t get sucked down the Facebook/Instagram rabbit warren, I’m slowly reading Brene Brown’s “Braving the Wilderness” – I love the research she’s done on ‘Vulnerability’; and our current bookclub book is a Maisie Dobbs' mystery (I think I’m on Chapter 2 - lol).

I'm listening to my kids; but I also love Imagine Dragons and have “Thunder” on repeat at the moment. 

Sweet or savoury?

Savoury – cheese & crackers over dessert any day. 

Favourite drink?

My brother Casey made espresso martinis on Christmas day that were a bit decadent.

Favourite thing/item you own?

The baby grand my cousin gave me is a great love and I am so grateful to him for giving it to me, but my friends might say the mustard carpet because they know I’m a bit precious about it! I invited people to a New Year’s Eve party but told them in the invite they weren’t allowed to eat or drink on my mustard carpet, and a friend cheekily replied, ‘unless the food is of the yellow variety, as in pineapple or papaya!’.

Kelly knew there wasn't the space for a seperate music room in their plans, so she had Graeme Weaver include a nook in her front living room especially for her piano.

Top of your wish list for your home?

A lot of landscaping! Along with a pool and some outdoor furniture to go with it.

Thank you so much Kelly and Jules for allowing us into your amazing home and letting us share a little piece of it. To all our readers, make sure you check out some of Davcon's other projects if you're looking for a first rate building team.


Kelly's mustard room was truely special, but quite frankly the whole house is incredible. We couldn't resist showing you a sneak peek of another of our favourite rooms - the dining room which overlooks Esk Valley...

The cat was also super cute! He co-ordinated beautifully with the mustard room, but was quite partial to the large green rug in the other living room.

Let's finish with a quick tip... we love a large rug to ground furniture and help zone a space. A cost-effective solution for this is to get a piece of carpet cut to the right size and have the edges bound, as Kelly has done here. Also, if you're not brave enough to carpet your room in mustard (or olive green), a large rug is a great alternative.

Introducing SAI

Dael and I are very proud to introduce you to our latest project, SAI, (lower) 205 Emerson Street, Napier. The project took a good eight or nine months and was quite a journey, so we were thrilled when the doors finally opened to the public two weeks ago. Some of you may have been following the progress on our Instagram page, but now we're pleased to share it with you officially.

photo: Florence Charvin

In March of this year we received an email from Sasi (our future client) saying she was visiting from Sydney, was opening a restaurant in Napier, and would we like to meet to discuss it. "Of course," we said - that sounded like a fun job. We met Sasi on site soon after and suddenly realised what a huge task we had ahead of us.

The site for the restaurant was the old Mid City Plaza and it was being split into three tenancies along Emerson Street. It really was just a crumbling shell with loads of potential, and a lot of work to be done. This was our first big commercial project, so we were very fortunate that architect Robin Larkworthy, of Dougan Larkworthy, agreed to help us with all of the plans and working drawings, and GR8 Construction took on the build.

Our client, Sasi (below far right) already owns and runs the sister restaurant, 'SAI Old Bar Beach' in Sydney, and soon after our first meeting she flew back to Australia. Over the next few months Dael and I liaised with Sasi via email, designed the look and feel of the restaurant, and came up with various floor layouts (keeping in mind that neither of us had any experience with a commercial kitchen and what that entailed). With the expert help of Josh from Southern Hospitality, Isaac from Sydaz, Hamish Panton from Panton Consulting, and Robin Larkworthy and his team, plans were eventually sent to Council, and then it was a waiting game. In August Sasi returned to New Zealand with her niece, Wan, (below centre) who was to help Sasi with the restaurant, and eventually run it when it came time for Sasi to return home. The four of us worked closely together, and Dael and I are so thankful to both Sasi and Wan that they believed in us and allowed us to follow through with our designs.

Opening day was 8th December, and everybody involved in helping us create SAI worked extremely hard to make opening on that date happen. As well as all the tradies, Sasi and Wan's family flew in to help and it really was 'all hands on deck'.

We enlisted the help of our favourite painter and wallpaper hanger, Claire Condon, and her friend, Chris Heath, to create the fresco wall effect, and to hang the beautiful Elitis wallpaper. Asha and Marg from Little & Fox made the squabs and cushions; and Hutchinson's laid the floor for us.

Staff get ready for the very first guests (below) - everyone involved in helping to create SAI was invited to come and sample the delicious Thai food. The tiles, from The Tile Depot, around the open kitchen and behind the bar are one of my favourite features.

The food at SAI is authentic Thai food, and the staff are there to guide you, if you'd like, and answer any questions. They encourage customers to place meals in the centre of the table so you can share and taste all of the dishes.

My most favourite part of the restaurant is the beautiful bar which greets you as you enter. It was created by the amazing team at Sunshine Joinery, along with the cabinetry behind the bar, all of the bench and booth seats, the open kitchen bench top, and all of the shelving. We can't thank Rick, Ben, Felicity and their team enough.

The curved bar is created with strips of bamboo that bring gorgeous texture and warmth, and contrast beautifully with the deep teal featured throughout the restaurant.

When Sasi first briefed us on what she wanted for the restaurant, she told us her favourite colours were brown and grey. To say that Dael & I love colour is an understatement, so how were we going to make this work?! The tile, with it's earthy shades of brown, blue and grey was our starting point, and this led to the introduction of the deep teal colour. Lastly we brought in the rich raspberry red in the wallpaper and velvet sofa to balance the coolness of the blue and grey tones. Sasi was so great allowing us to do this, as we knew we were pushing her outside of her comfort zone. But luckily for us she embraced the colours and now loves them.

Thanks to the talented Laura Jeffares for the floral displays, and Rowan from Branded for all our signage.

All of the beautiful plates, bowls and cups are hand made in Thailand especially for SAI and are available to purchase. Look for the displays at the front of the restaurant and talk to staff if you're interested in purchasing anything.

It's so rewarding to see SAI fill up with people, the buzz of activity as staff ferry plates to customers, and the chefs busy in the kitchen. So much thought went into each part of the restaurant, and each phase, and we're extremely grateful to everyone who helped turn our design into a reality.

Although we thank Sasi for giving us so much freedom with our design, it was her initial brief and inspiration that shaped SAI. We took her brief and moulded it into the restaurant it is today. We may have pushed a few boundaries along the way, but Sasi was so open to our ideas, she was a joy to work with. I have been lucky enough to dine here a couple of times now, and I can tell you, wholeheartedly, that the food is amazing. There's no question where the Bibby + Brady Christmas party is being held this year!

We will miss Sasi as she heads back to Australia (today), but she's handing the torch onto Wan, and we have no doubt she will do a great job at running SAI.

A SAI website is in the making, but in the meantime have a look at this delicious menu. Bookings can be made on 06 835 3959, open 11am til late, dine in or take away. If you visit, make sure to tell them we sent you.

The lovely photographer herself, Florence Charvin.

This is the house that Francois built

We recently visited a friend and supplier of ours, Francois from Le Workshop, and his wife, Sarah-Lee, in their amazing tiny home that Francois built himself here in Napier, Hawke's Bay. Measuring only 7m x 3m, the house is made from American cedar outside, with plywood inside and American ash on all the trims and the window seat.

The couple share the house with their three gorgeous children, Poppy (8 years), LouLou (5 years), and Francis (3 years). Although the two girls are currently attending a local primary school, Francois and Sarah-Lee plan to homeschool the kids next year. They're excited to take a holistic approach to their children's development and teach them real life skills.

The couple bought the land 1 1/2 years ago, but Francois' has had a workshop on the site for some time, so he was very familiar with the location. The workshop is next to the house, so there was already power to the site. The kitchen has gas hobs, and is cleverly designed to make the most of the small space. The fridge is cleverly hidden behind the ply cabinetry, and the sink has a board that sits snugly on top to create extra bench space when needed.

With such compact living, life is all about every day needs. "We think twice about what we buy," says Sarah-Lee. "The kids blocks are just as important as our special books."

Tucked behind the bookshelves are the kids' bunk beds, with Francois and Sarah-Lee's bedroom above on the mezzanine floor. "Upstairs is like a second living space," Sarah-Lee tells us. "The whole family often watches the sun rise together up there in the morning".

To the side of the kids' space is the tiny bathroom complete with shower, composting toilet, and a little basin. The tiny home has many advantages, including being able to clean it from top to bottom in 10 minutes. The double glazing and wood-burner fire keeps them cosy warm. "We went from having a $400 monthly power bill in our last home, to $25 a month, and that's in winter," says Sarah-Lee.

Francois and Sarah-Lee have created an enviable lifestyle for themselves. Francois is a highly talented joiner and cabinet maker, and he shapes surfboards. He is also a bee keeper; he and Sarah-Lee grow their own veges, make their own honey and wine, and Sarah-Lee is a potter and teaches piano. Not to forgot the kids who help take care of the family's bunnies and sell the babies on TradeMe or by word of mouth. They have a 'rabbit account' which pays for the food and teaches the children about economics - life school.

Behind the tiny house are two large sheds, one is Francois' workshop and one houses the washing machine, bikes, and extra winter gear. This allows the family to keep just what is necessary in the house itself. Francois has built several other tiny structures and has had a lot of interest in his own home. If you would like him to build something similar for you, please get in touch with him, he would love to hear from you. Whether it's your home, your bach, a studio or sleep out, we can absolutely vouch for his superb workmanship.