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 | Artist

It is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to my old mate, Jen Sievers. Jen and I worked together in a design and marketing firm back in the day. I knew she was a super talented graphic designer, but what I've recently discovered is that she is an amazing artist too.




From a young age Jen always loved to paint and draw. She started her career with a fine arts degree, and went on to work for 15 years as a graphic designer. Jen's 'Big Magic' moment happened when she and her husband moved out to a semi-rural house in the foothills of the Waitakeres. It was spring time and the beauty of her surroundings inspired Jen to pick up her paintbrush again. Working four days a week as a designer, Jen spends as much time as possible in her studio on Friday through Sunday, and in the evenings (when she's not chasing her beautiful wee toddler around).






Jen paints contemporary abstracts that are fresh, whimsical and drenched in colour. Her aim is to capture movement, draw the viewer in and evoke joy and emotion. I think it's safe to say that she has achieved that, don't you?







You can find some of Jen's acrylic on large canvases at Endemic World, and she may be introducing some of her work in print form too in the near future.






She also has a number of her pieces available on Society6, from prints to tote bags to cushions, and more.




As well as her large canvases, Jen creates small wood blocks that can sit on a bookshelf or be hung on the wall. For more details and to keep up with all the happenings and new work, make sure you follow Jen on Facebook and Instagram. I know I'm excited to see what's next for this fantastic artist.



Creating a Home

My favourite part about working as an interior designer is watching a room come to life. Architects and builders create the house, or the structure (and a fine job they often do!), but it's what you put inside that turns it from a house to a home. Here are some tips that are guaranteed to warm up your space...

Start at the beginning. The entrance is the first part of your home that you and your guests see. Make a great first impression by creating a warm and welcoming entrance. It's bound to make you happy every time you arrive home.


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Surround yourself with things you love. Do you have a love of vintage mirrors, or a collection of treasured vases? Group them together to make an interesting display.


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Of course, that goes for any of your beloved items. Having them on display in your home helps to tell a story about who you are.

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Artwork is one of the easiest ways to put your mark on a space. "Art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder"... it is very personal and often the hardest thing to choose for someone else. If it moves you in someway, and brings you joy, you should definitely have it in your home.


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Another easy way to bring life to your home is to add plants and flowers. Flowers are an instant hit of colour and beauty, and plants can be a more permanent part of your decor - from a large indoor tree in the corner of your living room to a small potted succulent on your bookshelf.


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Anything that has history will add depth and soul to your space. Reupholster your grandmother's antique sofa in a contemporary fabric, or repurpose your father's childhood drawers to use as bathroom vanity. Obviously a piece from your own family will have special meaning, but you can also scour the second hand shops to create this look. I love mixing older pieces with contemporary ones.


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Once you have your key furniture pieces, layer them with rugs, cushions, and throws to bring warmth and comfort. This is an great way to create a cosy and inviting home.


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Books, candles and photographs are the perfect items to create meaningful vignettes, and the books and photos give more clues as to who lives here. Candles, especially scented ones, create ambience and add warmth to a room.

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Lighting is very important in a home. Make sure you have a variety of sources - bright task lighting is important in a kitchen and bathroom, but I often only use lamp light in living areas. Add dimmers to your main lights, and have floor and table lamps throughout your home so that you can adjust the light to suit the occasion.

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These are all things that you can do yourself, but if you would like any help turning your house into a home, you need only ask!