Favourite Space | Marilyn Perko

It’s time for another of our ‘Favourite Space’ blog posts. We get to meet so many fabulous and talented people in our job, and when we see an interior that is really special and a true reflection of its owner, we just want to share it with you. Marilyn is a client of ours and was kind enough to allow us to photograph her home and share a bit of her journey with us.

Marilyn in her living room, which for some time during the renovation was her bedroom | photo: Florence Charvin

Before we get to Marilyn’s story though, I wanted to tell you a bit about our relationship with her. The way we worked with her is not our usual process. Normally, with a renovation like hers we are a lot more hands-on, but we quickly learnt how capable Marilyn was with managing her own renovation. A long-term Piha resident, upon arriving in Hawke’s Bay she came to us for advice on colours and fabrics, and we helped her choose, make and install all of her curtains and wooden shutters; we purchased her wallpaper for her bedroom study, bedlinen, and a lot of fabric for countless beautiful cushions and squabs we had custom made. We worked with Marilyn on an hourly rate for design advice and whenever something arose that she needed a second opinion on, she’d pop in to see us. We have the utmost admiration for how she handled her renovation (which we know can be a stressful experience) and for the beautiful home that she has created for herself. Marilyn, you’re a star, and now over to you…

We supplied fabric for curtains, window squab, cushions & furniture | photo: Florence Charvin

About your renovation:

B+B: How long did you live in Piha, and what made you choose Napier to relocate?

I lived in Piha for 21 years, it was my retreat from the world of work. I decided to retire in 2017 and I knew it was time for a move, much as I loved Piha I wanted to be closer to amenities, theatres, galleries. I initially looked at inner city properties but the escalating real estate prices in Auckland put that out of reach and I wasn’t quite ready for apartment life. So I set about looking out of Auckland, my check list was to be near the sea, walking distance to shops, not too far from an airport and room for visiting friends and family. North of Auckland was a contender and no further South than Hawke’s Bay or New Plymouth.

A beautiful side table spied by Marilyn and sourced by Bibby + Brady | photo: Florence Charvin

B+B: Did it take you long to find your Napier home?

I spent some time checking out a number of areas but I was drawn to Hawke’s Bay. I narrowed my search to Napier and, as I hadn’t been there for some time, I flew down one weekend just to look around. Or so I thought - I ended up putting in an offer on a 1920’s bungalow on the hill, and that was the end of my search! I have renovated several times and I knew this property needed serious work but I feel in love with the view, I could hear the sound of the waves, it was close to Napier City and less than 10 minutes to the airport. All my boxes ticked! Something I didn’t expect living so close to the city was the bird life; Tuis, Bellbirds and Kereru.

Marilyn’s living room with views over Napier and out to Cape Kidnappers | photo: Florence Charvin

B+B: What is your favourite space in the house, now that it’s all finished?

It has to be my bedroom area with ensuite, walk in wardrobe, study nook and view of sea and city. I just love the wallpaper, an indulgent Designer Guild feature wall in the study nook, expertly papered by Claire Condon.

We had beautiful wooden shutters installed in Marilyn’s bedroom | photo: Florence Charvin

B+B: What were the highlights and lowlights of your renovation?

The completed renovation took 10 months and with old houses there are always surprises (and there were a few), but I was fortunate to have a wonderful builder, "Wayne Reid Builders", and a band of exceptional tradies. An Auckland friend put me in contact with his friends in Napier who had recently completed renovations and they passed on all their contacts. The difficult part for me was living around the renovation, moving from room to room, no laundry or kitchen, inadequate heating…...I’ve been down this path before but it does get more challenging with age, however I am thrilled with the end result. A big thank you to Dael and Vic who have been there to give advice on colours and furnishings, and for their never ending enthusiasm for my project.

We sourced the Designers Guild wallpaper from our friends at Icon Textiles | photo: Florence Charvin

B+B: Do you have any advice for others undergoing their own renovation?

Take your time to find a builder, someone who sees your vision, and if you require Council consents/plans include your builder at the planning stage if you can. You must be well organised, living on site was an advantage as often quick decisions need to be made, but most importantly keep a detailed account of what you are spending.

Beautiful linen curtains over French doors seperate the inside & outside dining areas | photo: Florence Charvin

Getting to know you better:

B+B: What’s your favourite time of day?

Dusk, the fading light as the sun disappears and the city lights begin to twinkle. A time for quiet contemplation and a glass of wine.

B+B: Who or what inspires you?

I’m inspired by the generosity and kindness of those who give to their communities. The hours and hours of voluntary time caring for the young, our precious environment, the disabled and elderly.

Marilyn’s love of art is evident in her kitchen and dining area | photo: Florence Charvin

B+B: What are you reading/listening to right now?

One of the first things I did when I moved to Napier was to find a book club, at the moment we are reading “The Forest of Wool and Steel” written by Japanese writer Natsu Miyashita. I’ve just finished reading “Drive your Plow over the Bones of the Dead” - hard to pin point the genre but described as ‘a meditation on human compassion and a murder mystery’. With the longer nights I enjoy listening to my Jazz collection.

Marilyn brought these tiles into us for our approval. We love them, of course | photo: Florence Charvin

B+B: Sweet or savoury?

Definitely savoury.

B+B: Favourite drink?

Depending on the occasion - Celebrate with Champagne, Martinborough Pinot Noir and a single malt by the fire.

The dining table is one of our favourites in recycled oak | photo: Florence Charvin

B+B: Favourite thing you own?

My painting by Dean Buchanan is a favourite and I have it in my lounge, I never tire of looking at it. Dean lives in Karekare just over the hill from Piha, the painting is of Cathedral Cave at Mercer Bay. I bought it from Dean’s studio in Karekare and he told me how he would climb down to the cave to get mussels.

The painting by Dean Buchanan is very special to Marilyn and reflects colours found in the living room | photo: Florence Charvin

B+B: Do you have any future plans for your home?

Scaffolding and building clutter took its toll on the garden, so I've been busy outside. I’m looking forward to Spring! I'm also toying with the idea of developing a studio/bedsit under the house.

Accents of black in the dining room add a touch of depth | photo: Florence Charvin

Thank you so much Marilyn for letting us be a part of your renovation story, for allowing us to share your home with our readers, and for the celebratory champagne on the deck ;)

Jen Sievers | Greenhouse Interiors

Before interior design became my life, what seems like a lifetime ago, I was a graphic designer. I was lucky enough to work with a variety of clever and talented people, and one of those people was the beautiful Jen Sievers. We were both working as graphic designers in a small marketing firm, but, as often happens, after the birth of our children we both changed direction slightly - me to interiors and she to fine art.

photo: Sarah Starkey

Jen has been going from strength to strength since she started painting again three years ago, and I have really enjoyed seeing her become so successful doing something she loves. Her latest achievement is so exciting, as she and I have both been huge fans of the two women Jen has recently collaborated with - Julia Green and Armelle Habib.

Julia Green is an incredibly talented stylist and writer and the founder of Greenhouse Interiors, an online destination for boutiques textiles, homewares, and fine art. Julia contacted Jen earlier this year interested in selling her work. Of course this was a no-brainer for Jen, who, like me, was a big fan of Julia's work. "So I painted a collection for her. It's been a whirlwind of work and excitement", Jen explains. "Being a part of her (Julia's) gang has been an impossible dream since the start. Life is full of incredible surprises!"

Julia worked her magic with Jen's new collection, styling each piece in a room setting which compliments and highlights the artwork. The settings were then photographed by another of our idols, Armelle Habib, who captures them so beautifully.

You can view all of Jen's latest collection here on the Greenhouse Interiors website. I'm sure you'll agree with me, the collaboration between Jen, Julia and Armelle is a winner!

Style a console with Rae West art

One of our favourite artists, Rae West, just happens to live right on our doorstep - Hawke's Bay is full of so many talented people! When she recently offered us one of her spectacular original tondo's for our showroom, we jumped at the chance. Her work is super beautiful, she uses resin and ink, and this particular piece also has gold leaf for an extra layer of subtle shine. It's quite hard to capture the beauty on camera, believe me when I say this art is even better in 'real life'.

We decided to combine Rae's piece with a little styling demo, and show you how we styled the console in our showroom in six simple steps. Styling flat surface like consoles, coffee tables and bookshelves is one of our favourite things to do. In my home I'm constantly changing things around to suit a new piece I've found, or just to keep things fresh and interesting.

It can be hard to know how to get the right balance, and how to make it look pretty but also have functionality. To help you get started (if you're new at this), we'll run you through our steps and explain why we've used certain pieces:

Step 1: We like to start with a large piece of art, or a mirror can look great too. Hang it just above your console - too high and it can look disconnected from what's going on below it.

Step 2: A lamp is a great starting point. It adds height as well as light for functionality. We've chosen a lamp with a fabric shade we had custom made. The shade will soften the light rather than having directional light like a desk lamp.

Step 3: Add something sculptural or quirky, purely for fun. We liked the curves of the swans next to the round artwork and the curve of the lamp. The brass links to the subtle gold found in Rae's artwork (although it's hard to capture this on camera).

Step 4: Books are a great tool for grounding objects, they act like a little platform for smaller pieces like bowls or vases. They also add a bit of weight and squareness to balance the curves. If you're anything like me (book crazy!) you'll love the chance to have some of your favourite coffee table books on display.

Step 5: To balance the right side we added a large floral arrangement. It's always great to add fresh flowers or greenery. They bring life and add another sculptural and textural element. We were lucky enough to have this stunning arrangement by Laura Jeffares, but if you don't have access to Laura, a pot plant in a beautiful planter will do the job, or grab your secateurs and snip some greenery from your garden.

Step 6: We could've left it at that last step, but that little space to the right of the vase felt like it needed something. A little dish, bowl or tray is handy for throwing your keys, sunglasses etc in as you walk in the door. It's a functional piece and also another low, horizontal element to balance the height of the vertical pieces - it's all about the balance.

So there you go, six simple steps to create a pretty good looking console. We've kept our colour palette consistent with greens and blues to compliment the artwork, and pinks, gold, and the light wood of the console to balance those cool tones.

This beautiful artwork is for sale, so if anyone is interested in purchasing a stand out piece for their home, please get in touch with us. You're welcome to come and see the art in our showroom so you can truly appreciate it's beauty. Make an appointment to make sure we're not in a meeting or out and about, as we'd love to give you our full attention.