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 ;)

Zeffer Cidery | Before & After

Last year we got a call from Hannah, one of the owners of Zeffer Cider asking for our help to transform an old winery tasting room into their new cider taproom. Funnily enough, I’d just been reading about Zeffer in our local paper the day before, and was impressed with how well their young business was doing, sweeping up numerous awards, both locally and internationally. Of course we were only too happy to help.

Our brief was to provide a design concept for the overall feel of the space, helping with material selection, and also to design a moveable bar and fixed tap wall. The space is long and narrow and the idea was to be able to move the bar if they wanted to open the space up for events.

The original space had a lot of dark wood and the existing bar took up much of the space. The old floor boards were removed and the concrete floors polished. The ceiling was cleaned up, the walls painted and the introduction of lighter wood panelling brought texture and warmth.

Some of the windows on the back wall were removed to allow the tap wall to go in, and the dark wood door was updated with a lick of black paint. We love the finished result of the bar and tap wall, it makes a fantastic feature when looking through the arched door from the deck.

We designed the moveable bar alongside our resident interior architect, Briana Joll, who created these amazing 3D visuals for the client. We chose a chevron design for extra interest and a panel at the back that could be pulled out to prevent customers walking behind the bar.

The tap wall is exactly how we designed it with the exception of the taps themselves, which evolved from colourful handles to beautiful wooden handles.

The tiles from Tile Depot on the tap wall have the look and feel of exposed brick, but with all the benefits of porcelain tiles.

Our new bar design left more space along the window side of the building allowing the addition of small tables and stools to enjoy cider tasting at. The wood wall panelling echoes the panelling added to the entrance.

On a sunny day you can also choose to sit outside either at the tables or the large picnic blankets we provided Zeffer with.

The built-in office furniture at the back of the room was all removed and we designed a built-in bench seat to wrap around the corner.

We had the pottery lights over the bar custom made by Kim Morgan. We’d previously designed a wall light in a similar style that Kim had made for us, so knew they’d look fantastic in this space. We love their natural, organic aesthetic.

To make the most of the approach to the taproom, a previously stony area with a couple of trees was paved and turned into another seating area for customers.

Thanks to Hannah, Sam and the team for allowing us to share these photos with you. If you’re in Hawke’s Bay and haven’t yet visited Zeffer Cider, you should make a point of doing that really soon. Taste the beautiful range of award winning cider, fill your own flagon, or grab some bottles to take home with you. Winter hours are Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11am - 6pm; and in the summer they’re open 7 days, perfect for enjoying a drink and a picnic or platter in the sun.

Adding Character to a New Build

Building or moving into a brand new home is an exciting time, and there are so many advantages over an older home. But unless you're lucky enough to have had it architecturally designed, a new house can sometimes feel a little plain, lacking in charm, or, dare I say, soulless. At our recent styling evening in Havelock North, I was asked if I had any tips on how to add character and interest to a newly built house, so I have put together this blog post with some of our ideas.

There are actually plenty of ways to inject interesting elements that will add depth and interest to your new home, one of them is to add panelling to your walls. There are a number of ways to do this and it's amazing how quickly it will elevate a room with it's subtle layer of texture. Vertical panelling is a classic look that can be made to look both traditional or contemporary depending on how it's executed. Pictured above with lovely thick skirting boards, this panelling creates a classic look. Another fun way to use it is to run it part way up the wall, top with a dado rail, and either paint or wallpaper above. The powder room below has turned what was a small, plain room into a fun, personality-filled space. The thinner panelling is a nice contrast to the door and works well in a smaller space.

By square setting the panelling from the ceiling to the floor without any skirts or architraves, you create a contemporary look for your home. The entrance below has cleverly lined up the door and wall panelling for a clean, seamless look. This is trickier to execute, so although the first versions (above) are possible to DIY, I would recommend getting the experts to help you with this square set panelling. This look really needs to be decided on before the building stage, so talk to your builder early on in the process.

We often use vertical panelling in our kitchen designs. With very little fabric or furnishings in a kitchen, it's a nice way to introduce texture. The home below uses the panelling in quite a contemporary fashion, also running it up the walls and on the door in the hallway to create a sense of continuity.

Below are more examples of vertical panelling, this time using it in natural wood for a hit of warmth as well as texture. This sort of application doesn't have to be used everywhere in your house, instead use it to create a feature in key areas.

Another form of wall panelling that you're probably familiar with is board and batten. It features wide boards covered by long flat strips (battens) about 5cm wide. This is one of the oldest, most traditional style of panelling and is often used on the exterior of houses. If using it on the interior of your house you can create the same look by just attaching the thin strips over a conventional wall. I love the character it adds, and it can also be used on just the lower half of your wall with paint or wallpaper above.

One of my favourite wall features is box moulding. This is something you can do yourself if you're a clever 'diy-er', or have a handy man in the house. Keeping it white adds subtle texture, or paint it dark to make more of a statement.

Built-in furniture pieces are not for the faint hearted, as they become a semi-permanent part of your home once installed, but they help to add that architectural detail that may be lacking in your new build. If well designed and built they will be a fantastic addition to your home and are often great for utilising otherwise unused or awkward spaces. Built-in bookshelves are the most common piece we're asked for by our clients. The one below is so handy for storage and display, and they've included box moulding - win, win!

When you're installing a new kitchen, the cabinets are custom made to fit. But there's nothing to stop you fitting cupboards similar to the ones below along a hallway, in an entrance, or a kids' play room for valuable extra storage. If possible, take them to the ceiling so they look like they're supposed to be there and not an after thought that has just been tacked on.

The bookshelf below is our ideal living room built-in piece. Open storage for books and favourite pieces, closed storage at the bottom for things you don't want on display, and a space for the TV. This setup is also great for ensuring that the television is disguised a bit and not the centre of attention in your living room.

One of our most favourite ways to add interest to, and elevate a space, is wallpaper. Powder rooms, laundries, and entrances are great spaces for wallpaper. Because you don't spend a lot of time in any of the rooms you can get really brave, go bold and wallpaper every wall. Of course, if you're open to wallpapering all four walls of your living or dining room we applaud you, but even a single wall, like the bedroom below will create a lovely feature. This grasscloth wallpaper provides beautiful texture but is otherwise quite subtle.

If pattern is your thing there are a multitude of gorgeous wallpapers to choose from and we're more than happy to help you choose - patterned or plain.

In any good design, contrast is a key component. When you have a brand new home, we like to add some vintage or antique pieces to give the place some depth. I love this little vintage table (below) against the crisp, new white walls. Have fun hunting on TradeMe or your local second hand shops, or if you're really lucky you may have one or two special pieces you've inherited from your parents or grandparents. 

The antique dresser below has been repurposed into a vanity adding some weight and character to the brand new bathroom.

Interesting tiles in your kitchen and bathroom will instantly add character and style. I would strongly urge you to choose a beautifully tiled splash back over a coloured glass one. There are so many shiny, hard surfaces in a kitchen, and a glass splash back is just one more. Tiles can add texture and pattern, even a plain subway will be so much more interesting than flat glass.

The kitchen below belongs to our clients, and although they didn't build it, the house was still very new when they bought it. Because the kitchen was so new they didn't feel the need to rip it out and start again, but they did want to breathe a bit of life into it, and stamp their own mark on it. It was as simple as replacing the handles on the bottom cabinets with a more contemporary matt black version, and removing the top ones altogether for a cleaner look. We then replaced the glass splash back with the soft green subway tiles, and added the gorgeous fish scale tiles under the breakfast bar. You can see before photos in our previous blog post.

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Below is the view from the above kitchen, where I can illustrate two more simple ways we added some character to the simple white interior. Other than the furniture and accessories, the two things we love about this space are the curtains and the chandelier. There were initially plain white roller blinds over the large bi-fold doors, but by replacing these with beautiful linen curtains it helped to soften the room and add texture. Fixtures like lights are a brilliant way to spice up a simple interior. We used the stunning chandelier to do just this, as well as to help zone the living room in the open plan space. A similar light was used over the breakfast bar above.

Lastly, paint is an oldie but a goodie... it is by far the quickest and most cost-effective way to change and lift a room. A simple colour can make the world of difference! The use of the multi colours below creates the illusion of an architectural feature.

In conclusion, not everything above will appeal to everyone, and you obviously don't have to include each tip into your new build. But we do hope that you have gained some inspiration to take your shiny new house up to the next level.

We always love your feedback, so feel free to comment below on ways you have added interest to a new build. And if there is anything you would like our advice on, let us know, it could be the next blog post we write.