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romancing the home

From Habitat magazine - issue 17

Not much escapes the paint brush in the cottage of this talented homeowner.

Some people and their houses possess a kind of magic. Take Kirsty Cashmore. It helps that she lives in the dreamy, romantic, French-settler village of Akaroa, on Banks Peninsula near Christchurch. It also helps that she knows exactly how she loves to live. It's all about 'slubby' colours, textural contrasts, elegant antiquity and authentic materials. In two words her style is "rustic grandiosity"; an oxymoron perhaps, but true nevertheless.

Restful sitting area
Walls in Resene Quarter Parchment are a restful backdrop for the eclectic collection of objects. This sitting area is an extension of the kitchen. Get the look with Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen tinted to Resene Quarter Parchment. Get the painted floorboard look with Resene Waterborne Sidewalk tinted to Resene Ecru White.

Colour is one of her main backdrop ingredients. Genteel, elegantly antique furnishings with quality faded fabrics are the others.

Kirsty protests that she has no researched method of getting the colours perfect for her 1870 cottage. She just "gives things a go".

"If you sit and think about changing something too much, you end up scaring yourself and not doing anything. Just get in there and do it."

Functional kitchen
Kirsty proves a functional kitchen is no bar to stylistic elegance.

As business owner of Tully Linens in Akaroa, Kirsty likes to inspire people to boldly follow their stylistic dreams. "How often do men ask their wives' permission to buy a new fishing rod, or new tyres? So why should people (often women) restrain themselves when it comes to colours, paints, linens or antiques?"

Kirsty quickly adds that her partner Tom is great like that, not raising objections when she wants to change, paint, or add something to a scheme. "Tom's happy when I go for it with paint. I'm over the look of wood everywhere. It's been done to death in this country, and it's often just too dark, especially downstairs. I really love the pale, uplifting effect of whites, warm greys and blues against which you can have accents of favourite shades. In my case they're often aubergines, raspberry reds and greens."

Elegant dining room
The dining room walls are Resene Foggy Grey.

Although Kirsty describes her style as "eclectic shabby chic", there isn't much here that could be dubbed truly shabby. Kirsty's unerring eye means the house has more of Versailles about it than she admits. Elegant, ornate and unusually detailed mirrors, candlesticks, silver and glassware abound. But while this home may be French and Scandinavian in its interior influences, it's a more rustic, collector's take than a polished Parisian one.

Kirsty doesn't paint walls and ceilings in isolation. She's after a total effect, and that means coating floors and furniture too. And nothing, she stresses, is irreversible. Water-based effects in particular are easy to paint over, or even remove.

Cottage exterior
Enameled spoons
Kirsty Cashmore
Exterior: The 1870s Akaroa cottage is painted Resene Hermitage with Resene Quarter Spanish White trims, a perfect foil to the pretty garden. Get the look with Resene Lumbersider.  Spoons: A collection of enameled spoons perfectly matches the house's paint palette.  Kirsty: Kirsty stresses that nothing is irreversible. Water-based effects in particular are easy to paint over.

Aware of the need to avoid cold-looking whites, Kirsty mixes up her neutrals. "The secret really is to contrast several whites against each other. In different lights these shades reveal their subtle qualities, so that the overall effect avoids sterility and chilliness."

All of the floor-boards in this two-storeyed cottage are Resene Ecru White from the Karen Walker Paints range, while most of the walls are Resene Quarter Parchment. The latter is valuable for being a warm white without being cream, Kirsty says. The dining room walls are Resene Foggy Grey; a choice she loves because of its warm depth and strength. Ceilings and doors are Resene Quarter Spanish White. She has also used Resene Robins Egg Blue and Resene Sea Fog.

Bathroom - candle tree
Bedroom showing love of fabrics
Bathroom: The quirky candle tree and the clawfoot bath, which came with its silvery finish, were found objects. The door and trims are in Resene Quarter Spanish White.  Bedroom: The headboards are painted Resene Robins Egg Blue. The bedrooms are where Kirsty can give her love of fabrics full reign.

Not many objects make it past the front door without escaping Kirsty's paint brushes. She once bought a khaki-coloured industrial enamel locker for just $40. Now painted Resene Robins Egg Blue, it's a fabulous (and useful) hidey hole for Kirsty's acquisitions. The same applies to a tall wooden dresser in one of the bedrooms which is actually a Japanese Kimono cupboard. Even the cupboard's fabric received a coat of paint, because it wasn't immediately to Kirsty's taste.

"I think I'm a bit ADHD really. I paint for a quick result, often only one coat. But that's the look I'm after anyway, not something uniform, glossy and perfect. My techniques give the right finish almost by default." The floors do, however, get several coats of paint, and often a touch up every few years.

Kirsty sighs. "I have so much stuff, and that's where the shop comes in." As Kirsty paints, she's already planned which soft furnishings and fabrics will work against the backdrop colours. "Most people who come into Tully Linens are kindred spirits and become regular customers," Kirsty says. "As they live throughout the country, her Facebook page has been urged on by them for years."

Did you know...

That there is a new Karen Walker Paints range of colours? See for inspiration.

That the Resene Kitchen & Bathroom range combines anti-bacterial silver protection and MoulDefender mould inhibitor, perfect for minimising unwanted nasties in kitchens, bathrooms and laundries? Available in semi-gloss, low sheen and flat.

Accessories: Most of Kirsty's furnishings are found and rejuvenated. Bedlinen:Tully Linens, Akaroa.

Alternative solution – it starts with the rug

traditional forms meet contemporary colour

Anna Cuthbert of Cuthbert Interiors suggests this alternative scheme:

Alternative solution 1

This scheme uses fresh contemporary colours but also includes some traditional forms, such as the roll arm and the turned leg on the sofa, to honour the age of the house. The inspiration for the colour scheme comes from the gorgeous New Zealand-made rug. Dark Wenge timber for the shelves and mantel as well as a black basalt hearth give a modern feel; the sofa legs are also stained dark. A feature wall in Resene Meltwater sits behind the shelves and serves to highlight any ornaments. Other walls are in the soft warm neutral of Resene Eighth Malta. I'm a big fan of supporting local businesses so most of the products here are locally made.

This contemporary and elegant room uses walls in Resene Eighth Malta, trims in Resene Half Black White and a feature wall in Resene Meltwater. The timber floor is finished in Resene Deep Oak from the Resene Colorwood interior wood stains range. The room also features a mirror from Sarsfield Brooke, a Trio side table by DesignMade and a Criss Cross Bubble pendant light by George Nelson from Matisse. The chairs are recovered in Grange fabric, colour Sand, from Textilia.

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Accessories: Harlo armchairs, from Insight Furniture. Woodmates venetian blinds, colour Ecru, from Luxaflex. Tembok rug in turquoise by Harlequin, from DesignMade. Barbara Coupe cushion. Copper sofa, from Forma.

Alternative solution – summer fresh

vibrant colour brings a fun element

Lisa Brook of Urban Habitat suggests this alternative scheme:

Alternative solution 2

The room is designed around the fireplace, which has been painted in Resene Spotlight for a contemporary edge. Vibrant splashes of colour have been added to the room to make it fresh, youthful and fun. Adding a roman blind and voiles at ceiling height visually increases the window size and the oversized mirror in the alcove reflects light coming through the window. Painting the walls in Resene White keeps the space light and airy, while the modular sofa and casual floor cushions allow for plenty of seating in this compact space. Side tables and a rug add contemporary elements to contrast the traditional style of the fireplace. The ornate chandelier, distressed metallic mirror and soft voiles add vintage romance and some fun and funky pink accessories matched to Resene Smitten and Resene Bambina add a final burst of colour in this modernist yet traditional scheme.

A fresh and fun scheme enlivens this room, with a chimney breast in Resene Spotlight and walls in Resene White. The trims are Resene Half Thorndon Cream, while pink, yellow and green accessories finish the look.

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Accessories: Damasco chandelier, from Accent Lighting. Japanese Dolls cushion, from Bolt of Cloth. Artic Daisy (Frost), from Designer Rugs. Black tempered glass table set, from Iconic. Charles sofa, from Matisse International Furniture.

words: Liesl Johnstone
pictures: Juliet Nicholas
illustration: Malcolm White

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