Belmont Home Design

We hit the client jackpot when we got an email back in 2016 from an awesome young couple, Emma and Ian. They had just bought a new family home in Belmont, Auckland that they felt had great bones but lacked personality, and they wanted our help. Of course we love these kind of projects, as we relish any opportunity to bring a home to life and help it to reflect the people that live there.

Emma and Ian had only some very minor structural renovations in mind, but wanted nearly a full fit-out of new furniture, window treatments and accessories. Their brief was to create a home that had a holiday vibe - "a sub tropical deluxe retreat with an edge" were Emma's exact words.

The back of the house is beautiful, light and airy with a high vaulted ceiling and large french doors opening out onto the back lawn. It contains the kitchen, dining area, and a living room which was zoned by a rectangular piece of in-laid carpet.

A coat of fresh, white paint, and swapping the roller blinds out for beautiful linen curtains created a timeless base to work with. The curtains add a softness, and when pulled the gentle folds add lovely texture to the room. Removing the carpet and replacing the floorboards was a rather costly option, so we got a rug custom made to cover the carpet, and because it was a bit larger, it gave the living area a bit more breathing room. The beautiful large chandelier also helps to zone the living room in the open plan space.

We chose a large four seater sofa that can withstand a couple of boisterous (and adorable) young children, it's super comfy and very cool - for that edginess that Emma wanted. It's long and low profile hunkers down into the room allowing the view outside to be accessible from throughout the room, and the back creates a clear divide between the living and dining areas.

To fit the space between the kitchen and living area, the dining table is long and narrow. We used a bench seat on one side, which is perfect for kids, and it helps to keep it from looking cluttered - which is key in an open plan room. When not in use it can tuck under the table discreetly. Roman blinds in a blue and white batik fabric replaced the original roller blinds.

The wall between the two smaller windows was a great spot for some art, so the wall light was removed and we anchored the large print with the wooden bench below.

photo: Florence Charvin

We kept the colour palette to shades of blue, green and white to create the tropical feel, with wood and brass accents for warmth. We also wanted to reflect Emma and Ian's love of travel by using pieces they've collected over the years, and by introducing new pieces with a global influence. The large stool in the corner is a vintage Indian grinder table picked up in Hawke's Bay when we took the couple shopping in some of our favourite shops.

The kitchen was quite new and Emma and Ian didn't feel the need to replace it, so we had some simple solutions to help them update it.

The original kitchen had a lot of silver handles everywhere. We replaced the ones on the lower cabinets with the same size handle but in a beautiful matt black. The upper cabinets had their handles completely removed and a push-to-open mechanism was installed inside, giving a cleaner, more contemporary look. The light over the breakfast bar echoes the one in the living area and helps to zone the kitchen area.

We replaced the painted glass splash back with gorgeous soft green subway tiles to add texture and interest.

For another layer the scallop tiles were added to the front of the breakfast bar. They compliment the subway tiles beautifully and continue the tropical holiday vibe without being too literal. A strip of LED lighting runs along under the bench to subtly highlight the tiles. The bar stools are low in profile so they can also tuck away when not in use, keeping the look unfussy.

Emma and Ian picked up the 'lady with the green lips' while they were in Bali, and she works so well in this space. We commissioned the small resin planes from Michele Bryant, each has an international destination on it  - cities or provinces that Ian has worked with Air New Zealand.

We chose the large marble and metal coffee table for it's scale as we wanted a piece big enough to work with the sofa. A pair of rattan armchairs face the sofa and can also be pulled outside for extra seating when needed.

The master bedroom is off the living room and has large bi-fold windows that open onto the back garden. We wanted the room to have a sophisticated holiday vibe, and to be a place of calm and quiet for Emma and Ian to retreat to.

We chose a deep teal blue for the walls, fresh white linen bedding and a quilted blue throw to ground the end of the bed. We had the green velvet headboard custom made, and also made the pink & gold cushion and bedside lampshades specially. The palm tree lamp bases, scalloped bedside tables, and fish trap pendant light all continue the tropical theme.

The light oak drawers compliment the blue walls and pick up the tones in the artwork by Chris Sisarich.

The bathrooms were similar to the kitchen - Emma and Ian chose not to completely replace the fittings and fixtures, but instead to simply 'zshush' them up.

The shell mirror was bought on Emma and Ian's shopping trip with us in Hawke's Bay, and it instantly updates the room. The walls were freshened up again with a bright white, and we bought a little rustic wooden stool in to add some warmth and texture.

The seperate toilet room got a similar treatment with the mirror replaced and some beautiful wallpaper added. Little touches like a colourful hand towel and pretty soaps are so simple to add and can make all the difference.

photo: Florence Charvin

Blake and Isla share a bedroom and Emma wanted us to give it a whimsical, playful makeover.

We defined each child's side of the room with their own wallpaper. Blake's is blue and white with a striped linen duvet and denim pillowcase.

photo: Florence Charvin

Isla's side of the room is in soft peaches and dusty pinks, and her wallpaper has the same sense of whimsy as her brother's but in a much more girly way.

The front living room was lacking the natural light that the main living space had, so we removed the door frame and opened it right up, replacing the door with an internal slider. The walls were painted and the furniture was updated.

A pair of vintage armchairs were screaming out for some love, so we recovered them in one of our favourite kilim fabrics giving them that global vibe we love so much.

The linen slipcover sofa is another favourite of ours and perfect for a family with kids. All of the covers can be easily removed and thrown in the wash whenever necessary. The larger door opening lets in much more light during the day, and can be closed up in the evenings if the kids are sleeping.

The entranceway was another area that just needed tweaking. The little built-in box was removed and replaced with a bench seat. A piece of art was hung above it and an antique runner was introduced to lead you down into the heart of the home.

It was an absolute pleasure working with these guys, and seeing their home come to life, we will miss them terribly. Make sure you come back to Hawke's Bay for some more shopping trips, Emma and Ian :)

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.

Home Tour | NZ House & Garden

My home recently featured in the August issue of NZ House & Garden, and I thought I would share some of the fantastic photographs taken by Jane Ussher. Our home is a constant work in progress and never quite finished. The perks (and sometimes the curse, if you ask my husband) of being an interior designer is that there's always a new furniture piece or fabric that you fall in love with. I also just like to experiment and change things continuously.

Photo: Jane Ussher | courtesy of NZ House & Garden

If you follow us on Facebook you probably know how much we love built in dining bench seating. I commissioned Sunshine Joinery to build our one to mirror the window seat in our living room, with lift up lids for additional storage (you can never have enough). The squabs were made by the amazing Anna from Cushions Unlimited, topped with our own Bibby + Brady custom made throw cushions. Our American Oak dining table was beautifully built by Francois of Le Workshop.

Photo: Jane Ussher | courtesy of NZ House & Garden

We designed the kitchen and Sunshine Joinery created it for us. My husband wanted a white kitchen, so I made sure it had lots of texture for interest's sake - beautiful tiles and panelled cabinetry.

Photo: Jane Ussher | courtesy of NZ House & Garden

The twins were reluctant models, unlike Minnie that cat who followed the photographer around all day trying to get in every shot.

Photo: Jane Ussher | courtesy of NZ House & Garden

The living areas in the house are all open plan so you can sit in the end living room and see right down to the kitchen. We recently painted this room dark blue (Resene Celestial Blue) to define it from the other areas and it's become my favourite space to be in. The middle living room has large bi-fold doors out onto our deck which fill the house with light.

Photo: Jane Ussher | courtesy of NZ House & Garden

This is another favourite corner where I can curl up next to the open bi-folds with a glass of wine and a magazine. The chair is from our supplier Soren Liv (all of their furniture is available to purchase through Bibby + Brady), and the antique side table and vintage lithograph both belonged to my parents.

Photo: Jane Ussher | courtesy of NZ House & Garden

The end living room overlooks the Botanical Gardens. The hanging pod chair is a popular reading spot, and the most comfortable chair you're ever likely to sit in! These are also available to purchase from Bibby + Brady.

Photo: Jane Ussher | courtesy of NZ House & Garden

My desk is a happy place where I'm surrounded by favourite prints. A lot of our decor has a nature theme - water, birds and botanicals. This was never a conscious thing, but when you collect things you love you'll often see a pattern emerging.

Photo: Jane Ussher | courtesy of NZ House & Garden

My grandmother's bridge table sits below a painting of my parents' next to the front door. My mother-n-law is always bringing us fresh floral arrangements, so this vignette is very close to my heart. We love mixing old and new pieces in a home to create interest and a sense of history.

Photo: Jane Ussher | courtesy of NZ House & Garden

A few years ago I imported some bone inlay furniture from India. I couldn't find any in New Zealand at the time so took it upon myself to bring some in. I sold a lot of it but managed to keep a few piece for myself. Along with the antique gold mirror this definitely defines my side of the room, but you can see the reflection of my husband's surf print which is part of his side :)

Photo: Jane Ussher | courtesy of NZ House & Garden

The print above our bed is by Australian artist, Andrew O'Brien. Our headboard was made by Little and Fox, but I've decided it's time to recover it. The soft grey velvet is lovely, but with so many amazing fabrics available to us in our job, it's hard not to be tempted by something new.

Photo: Jane Ussher | courtesy of NZ House & Garden

With our kids growing up so fast, we're in the early stages of adding an extension onto our house. It includes a new master bedroom with walk-in wardrobe and ensuite, allowing our three girls to each have their own room. The kids' bedrooms will all be having a re-design at the same time, and they're looking forward to having input into the design of their own room.

Photo: Jane Ussher | courtesy of NZ House & Garden

Make sure you pick up the October issue of NZ House & Garden as it features the gorgeous home of one of our client's - keep your eye out for the pink Smeg fridge.