Neighbourhood Eats Cookbook

Introducing this beautiful cookbook filled with treasured family recipes from the Napier Central School neighbourhood…

Dael and I are thrilled to have played a small part in this beautiful cookbook, “Neighbourhood Eats”, which features mouth-watering, tried and trusted recipes from the Napier Central School community. The book is a school fundraiser to raise money to help save their school pool, which needs major refurbishments.

I know when you envisage a school cookbook you might think photocopied pages and spiral binding, but not this cookbook! Neighbourhood Eats is the most beautiful hardback book filled with 275 recipes and more than 300 incredible original photographs shot by our favourite photographer, Florence Charvin.

Every family has at least one or two favourite recipes. You know the ones handed down from your grandmother; the ones that have a story that goes with them, and a history; the ones that have been experimented with and adjusted until they’re just right. Put together in one stunning book, the recipes and the stories in Neighbourhood Eats will make their way into your kitchen and your heart.

The recipes in this book are a perfect reflection of the cultural diversity found at Napier Central School. As well as Kiwi kids, they have pupils whose backgrounds include Thai, Swedish, Scottish, Malaysian, Japanese, Indian, Australian, Irish, Middle Eastern, Greek, Italian, and German, to name a few. Also scattered through the book are recipes from some well known New Zealanders - Jacinda Ardern, Peter Gordon, and Jospeh Parker have all donated their favourite recipe.

Behind the scenes there has been the most incredible group of people working tirelessly to make this book a reality. A group of volunteer cooks made up of mums, dads, grandmothers and teachers, cooked all of the recipes. Members of the Napier Central PTA organised and oversaw the photoshoots, liaised with the graphic designer, recruited sponsors, organised printing, donating their time all in an effort to help their childrens’ school.

The name Neighbourhood Eats came about because of the huge effort put in from the whole community - parents, teachers, pupils and local businesses. Sponsorship support from a large number of local businesses covered all of the production costs, which means that 100% of the profits can go directly into the Napier Central School “save the pool” fund. Between us Dael and I have five daughters, all of whom are past pupils of this wonderful school, so we were very happy to be able to help with this project, sponsoring the ‘soups and breads’ chapter.

The Neighbourhood Eats cookbook costs $45 and can be ordered from their great looking website (built by Kathryn McGarvey). What a brilliant gift it would make, so why not grab a few copies for your mum and your sister too, knowing that you’ll be giving a fantastic gift as well as contributing to a worthy cause. I’m sure these are going to fly out the door, so don’t miss out, order your copy today.

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 :)

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.