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From Habitat magazine - issue 16

A riotous range of colours used originally on this 21-year-old architect-designed house have been kept as is in a recent update.

For an apprentice architect itching to show his colours, what better commission to have landed in 1987 than one where the client was enthralled with the Post Modernist/Memphis style? Followers of this style were known for seeking alternatives to the coolly functional designs of the time, expressing themselves with riotous colours, fun shapes, pattern and new materials.

Happy guest bedroom
Home study
Bedroom: Resene Downy is a “happy, feel-good colour” for this guest room. Get the look with Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen tinted to Resene Downy.  Study: A study off the lounge has walls in Resene Pine Cone.

Malcolm Taylor of Xsite Architects considers himself fortunate to have found such a brave client for his first project. Working alongside fellow architect Pip Cheshire, he helped refurbish the 1960s brick and tile “builder’s special”. It was to be just another garage addition but turned into a major reconfiguration and extension after Selma, the owner, completed an interior design course with Nanette Cameron. Says Malcolm: “She was fired up to take the home to a different level. Selma was incredibly trusting.”

So the home was completely gutted, the living extended and another storey with a void added to create a feeling of volume. And the local interpretation of Memphis style has resulted in a blend of nautical influences, theatrical elements, a dazzling array of bright Pacific colours and cleverly layered, textural paint finishes.

Classic orange sofa
Fuchsia pink carpet was specially coloured by Salle to complement the classic orange 1970s sofas from Domo. Walls are Resene Pine Cone.

“There’s a lot going on in this house,” says Malcolm, “so you can afford to be brave.”

Now, 21 years later, Malcolm has returned to update the home – refurbishing the aging kitchen, laundry and bathrooms, adding new joinery in some rooms but leaving intact “a period of bold architecture”. Post Modernism attracts its fair share of sniggers and cheap shots. But Selma has no regrets about her flamboyant choices. Faced with revamping the house, she says: “I had the option of redoing things differently, going black and white like everyone else or staying with the playful colours we started with. But I don’t do beige. I love colour.”

Atrium dining space
Kitchen:Kitchen cabinets: Get the look with Resene ArmourCat tinted to Resene AlabasterDining room: The atrium dining space is a cool open area compared to other more moody areas.

So, while tired linoleum floor tiles in the living areas were replaced with a pre-finished oak overlay, Selma decided to leave the bold and beautiful distressed walls and refresh them with coats of paint.

The stately blue pillars in the entry remain (a paint finish blend of Resene Cove Grey, Resene Ship Cove, Resene Link Water and Resene Tuna) as does the glossy layered effect in the main bedroom – a mix of Resene Tory Blue, Resene Chetwode Blue and Resene Sea Green. Selma still loves it. “I looked at changing it but couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”

Blue bedroom
Paint effect walls are a mix of Resene Tory Blue, Resene Chetwode Blue and Resene Sea Green in this bedroom.

Lavished in a richly layered, rust red mix of Resene Crab Apple, Resene El Salva and Resene Brandy Rose, walls in the kitchen and dining area wrap around cabinets designed by Malcolm in the original colour, juicy Resene Fire Bush. The kitchen, previously painted in teals and blues, was redone in colours similar to the original. This time round, glass wall cabinets are finished with blue translucent film and backlit, while the underbench cabinets are in Resene Alabaster.

Every room in the house packs a powerful punch. There’s no consistent colour theme though Selma kept her neutral base, ice blue Resene Pattens Blue which offers cool relief in the living areas, and a backdrop to a colourful collection of furniture and art including the bright red Swan and Egg chairs and a bright orange glass vessel by Anne Robinson.

Kitchen/dining room
Malcolm Taylor
Kitchen/dining rooms: A rust red mix of Resene Crab Apple, Resene El Salva and Resene Brandy Rose walls in the kitchen and dining area wrap around cabinets designed by Malcolm in the original colour, juicy Resene Fire Bush.  Architect: Malcolm Taylor returned to update his original design.

In Selma’s ensuite, original glass bricks were upgraded with an Italian block from National Glass in brilliant orange which adds a gem-like glow to the room.

Fuchsia pink carpet was specially coloured by Salle downstairs in the media room to complement the classic orange 1970s sofas from Domo, against walls in Resene Pine Cone.

In the adjoining guest room, Selma painted one wall in Resene Downy, a soft aqua. “I think it’s a really happy, feel-good colour.” Creating that emotional response is obviously important to Selma.

It was full-on in its day, says Malcolm, but the fact the home hasn’t dated says a lot about the common perception that playing safe adds longevity.

Basking in the glory of fun colour and texture, these spaces encourage a response. You can’t help but engage with the home and its architecture in a very positive way.

Did you know... that Resene has information and inspiration on how to create paint effects similar to those in this house. Visit

Accessories: Glass bricks: National Glass. Sofa: 1970s classic by Domo. Carpet: Sallee. Architect: Malcolm Taylor, Xsite Architects,

Alternative solution – timelessly intimate

touches of garden colour enhance this scheme

Kerry McComish of Online Interiors suggests this alternative scheme:

Alternative Solution 1

Apart from the obvious, bedrooms are all about making a personal statement. The possibilities are endless. Here, I wanted to show how easy it is to create a timeless classical look within a modern space by selecting a combination of curves and straight lines, sumptuous textures, strong colour and mood lighting. The white shutters provide privacy, yet also allow a view of the garden. Green accents with a botanical theme fabric echoes the outdoor colour palette and extends the perception of space. The key to this scheme is the rich wall colour, Resene Double Mondo, which provides a striking contrast to the white shutters and the crisp white bed linen. Most of all it provides a luxurious, intimate mood when its time to shut out the world and turn on the bedside lamps.

Rich Resene Double Mondo walls complement Resene White trims and shutters. The grey-wash lamps, Crocavina bed and Oyster Shaggy Rug are from Amazing Interiors.

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Accessories: Countrywoods Shutters in white, from Luxaflex. Four Clove silver mirror, D2067 chandelier in bronze, Eton armchair in Fellam Natural stripe, with green taffeta cushion, from Amazing Interiors. Ecodure Oak flooring in Natural, from Bamboo Flooring Systems.

Alternative solution – fresh fields

a breezy, youthful and pretty scheme

Amanda Neill of Designworx suggests this alternative scheme:

Alternative Solution 2

This contemporary and quirky scheme would be perfect for a teenage girl with its fun, fresh colour reminiscent of summer fields. The background of Resene Alabaster makes the room light, airy and youthful while the punches of energetic citrus and passionate pink give the space vibrancy. A striking feature wall behind the bed is made with a Resene Anenome Komar Photomural applied over Resene First Light, then framed with painted timber to make it look like a huge artwork. The photomural art is also used in the sideboard for continuity, with a whimsical mirror above.

Fresh colours and a huge framed Resene Anenome Komar Photomurals set against Resene First Light play off against clean Resene Alabaster walls, ceiling and trims. Timber floors are finished in Resene Colorwood Whitewash.

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Accessories: Lazy Night bed by Patricia Urquiola for B & B Italia, from Matisse. Evoque Lowboy Cabinet in white lacquer, designed and supplied by Designworx. AnenomeKomar Photomurals Vol II 17012, from Resene. Designers Guild Nabucco fuchsia rug, from Icon Textiles. Anna D chair in Warwick Ashcroft fabric, colour Canary, from Warwick Fabrics.

words: Vicki Holder
pictures: Simon Devitt and Frances Oliver
illustration: Malcolm White

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