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her forever home

From Habitat magazine - issue 22

A renovation by 'remote control' didn't hinder the progress of Maggie Robertson's colourful 'forever home'.

She calls it a 'forever' home and it's easy to see why Maggie Robertson would never want to leave her transitional Edwardian villa in one of Auckland's fringe city suburbs.

Greenish blue bedroom
The first of two guest bedrooms features strong steely Resene Tax Break on the walls, offset with vivid Resene White trims. A tapestry is used as a bedhead. Get the look with Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen tinted to Resene Tax Break, a soothing blue-green that’s perfect for bedrooms.

Her colourful, tasteful interiors meld a stately sense of early 19th century practicality with lively modern elegance and act as a perfect backdrop for her captivating collection of treasures. Says Maggie: "'I don't think I have a style ' as such, I just love colour, comfort and craft."

The house was recently updated in a renovation which saw rooms moved and a new wing built: a project managed by 'remote control' from Wellington. "I'd bought the house in 1995," she explains, "but my job as head of customer experience at TelstraClear took me down there for 10 years. Knowing you should never climb off the Auckland property ladder, I put tenants in the house and kept it."

Yellow hallway
Maggie Robertson
Hallway: The hall is painted in Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen tinted to Resene Tacha, a rich and complex green-toned yellow that is buttery near the windows and very slightly more mustard, the further inside you go.  Maggie: Maggie in her favourite spot – the bench seat and bifold windows in the corner of the office area.

When it was time to return north, she had a small problem. "I'd been living in a modern townhouse with two bathrooms and a walk-in wardrobe. I couldn't bear to go back to a house that didn't have those features."

Maggie was lucky to have builder Kevin Kirkbride, who did the job for a set price. "If we were running short in one place he'd always come up with a clever plan to save money somewhere else." He loved the house, which was really important!

Neutral study/office
The second living room and office sit next to the kitchen and feature a wall of storage painted in Resene Friar Grey to match the kitchen cabinets.

'To be honest, the process went practically without a hitch although there were a few small things such as the unexpectedly hard volcanic rock, which meant I had to spend extra money hiring special drilling equipment. Maggie concedes that being essentially hands off was probably a good thing. "I let Kevin do the worrying!"' she laughs.

When it came to choosing colours Maggie was adamant about one thing. "I always use Resene paints because I love their intensity," she explains. "The rich pigments make all my artworks come alive."

Blue living room
In the calm and tranquil living room half Resene Mantle is a perfect backdrop for more of Maggie’s treasures, an eclectic mix of old and new.

Maggie sat in Wellington and imagined the house, then cut colours out of paint charts and placed them on a plan she'd drawn to ensure that they looked good together. "It was a funny way of doing things but it worked!"

She describes herself as a 'blue and green girl' and these are the shades that tend to predominate in her home although she did go slightly off-piste with the hallway in which she's used Resene Tacha, a rich yellow that is buttery near the windows, yet sometimes looks mustard. "I painted it after the other rooms and considered red before deciding that yellow would work best. I had some floral tapestries with vivid colours, which inspired me."

Bright white kitchen
The bright, central kitchen has cabinets painted in Resene Friar Grey, set against Resene Double Spanish White walls. The large central island is a magnet for guests.

This bold shade complements half Resene Mantle, a soft pastel green with just a hint of blue, for the living room. It's a perfect backdrop for a vintage piano, which is juxtaposed against a modern Italian glass coffee table, and built-in storage housing a lifelong collection of paperbacks. Maggie sourced the fireplace in this room from the South Island, yet it looks as if it's always been there.

One of her renovation criteria was to create a 'house to share', and the living area is part of what is effectively a guest wing, along with two bedrooms and a bathroom, neatly separated from the rest of the house by a sumptuous sari curtain in the hallway. "One set of English friends come every year to escape their winter and I regularly have the parents of friends from Holland; so of course they are friends now too!"

Light green dining room
Half Resene Mantle is used in the dining room, where swagged blinds and a red tablecloth add glamour.

The front bedroom is utterly elegant and always popular with guests. Maggie has used a strong steely blue, Resene Tax Break, on the walls, offset effectively with vivid Resene White trims. Instead of a headboard she has hung a vibrant antique tapestry. The second guest bedroom is a sunny vintage classic in Resene Spanish White with twin beds and crocheted coverlets.

Maggie's own bedroom lies in the new addition at the rear of the house alongside the new ensuite, and here the soft green hues of Resene Eighth Lemon Grass perfectly echo the predominant colour schemes in the original house.

Neutral guest bedroom

She's a keen traveller herself; currently planning an Alaskan cruise in fact, and every one of her rooms is accessorised with a fascinating mix of bits and pieces she has picked up en-route, plus classic artworks and craft pieces that have been in her family for years. "The oak chest in the front room was a wedding gift to my parents, and the lace I've had framed for the hallway wall was made by my mother."

In the bright, spacious, central kitchen positively 'lit' by the rich, creamy intensity of Resene Double Spanish White, her large central island with its bar-stools is an absolute magnet to guests. "I like to cook for people. I can cut and dice, mix and marinate while they sit with a glass of wine and chat with me."

When the food is ready, everyone gathers in Maggie's separate dining room, painted in half Resene Mantle, where swagged blinds add a touch of Hollywood-style glamour. She always uses a red tablecloth to provide an unexpected pop of colour, especially when brilliant red pohutukawa flowers are bursting into bloom outside.

Maggie works from home these days as CEO of Crimestoppers, a not-for-profit organisation. This gives her the freedom to take time out and sit in her favourite spot in the corner of the second living room, where her office is based. Bifold windows open to an adorable Victorian-style fruit and herb garden and best of all, she can sit on the window seat and dangle her feet out. "It takes me back to childhood!"

Did you know… That the latest Resene The Range fandeck is full of rich, wintry colours? Check it out at your local Resene ColorShop or reseller.

Top tip: Use an architectural feature such as stained glass windows to inspire your scheme. Maggie used the yellow of her windows to choose Resene Tacha for her hallway.

Accessories: Builder: Kevin Kirkbride (“the best builder,” says Maggie), K & S Builders, ph 027 490 4036. Kitchen: The Kitchen Centre. Benchtop: Silestone, colour Alpina White. Fabric bedhead, below: Auckland Drape Company.

Alternative solution – naturally classic

a classic decor with a glamorous edge

Designer Nicola Blackmore of Domesticity suggests this alternative scheme:

I wanted to re-interpret this colourful living space as a neutral and contemporary style so I have opted for a palette of beige-grey and charcoal with a hint of black and chrome as accent colours. These are set against walls of soft silvery Resene Half Athens Grey. Because of the heritage details in the room, the furniture selected combines classic silhouettes which have been reinvented in a modern style. The existing layout works well so I have kept it the same, swapping one of the sofas with an armchair for more versatility. I have softened the appearance of harder surfaces by combining them with natural materials, such as linen, wool and whitewashed timber. The result is a classic-inspired decor with a modern glamorous edge.

Alternative solution 1

Walls in delicate Resene Half Athens Grey are teamed with trims in Resene Alabaster for a classic scheme with a contemporary edge. Also featured are a Fenton sofa from Me And My Trend, a Cross Leg ottoman from Danske Mobler, a Twine Weave rug from The Ivy House, an Amalfi Vintage floor lamp from Farmers, a Porcelain Pot lamp and Silver Antique Dish from Citta Design and Resene Curtain Collection Meander voiles in colour Latte.

Did you know... that you can get curtains and cushions designed to work with your paint colour, from the Resene Curtain Collection? View the range at Resene ColorShops, selected curtain specialists or (NZ only).

phone 021 026 17843   email

Accessories: Diamond Coffee Table, from Le Forge. Birds Nest Pendant Light, from Interior Design Online. Mottled Rabbit Cushion, from Luxury Linen. Trestle Console, from Citta Design.

Alternative solution – sumptuous excess

a playful vintage parlour is a visual delight

Heidi Meyer of Yohm Interiors suggests this scheme:

This scheme is inspired by sitting rooms of old, which were places of entertainment and visual stimulation, full of interesting artworks and artefacts. They were sumptuously furnished for long periods of sitting, reading, card playing, talking, drinking and listening to music. Here, Resene Glorious (pink) and Resene Flourish (green) have been playfully applied in bold striped walls and a surprising chequerboard ceiling. The theatrical feel is continued by hanging artworks literally floor to ceiling. Colours from the stained glass window are echoed in exquisite crystal accessories while the lighting is simple yet romantic. White-painted floorboards make the room appear larger, fresher, and provides visual relief. My scheme retains the home’s period features and re-uses some of the existing treasures.

Alternative solution 2

Stripes in Resene Glorious and Resene Flourish cover the walls, tempered with trims and floors in Resene Ditto. Other products featured include Resene Curtain Collection Meander voiles in colour Stone, Brass Swing Light from School House Electric and a CR Essentials Ashley sofa, Jonathan Adler Ingmar armchairs and Jonathan Adler Nixon End Tables from Coco Republic.

Top tip: Use tough Resene Walk-on paint for painting floors, or Resene Enamacryl (gloss), or Resene Lustacryl (semi-gloss) waterborne enamels. The higher the gloss level the easier the floor will be to clean, but the more it will show marks. If you want a softer effect, consider Resene Colorwood Whitewash, then finish it in Resene Qristal ClearFloor waterborne urethane to protect its good looks.

phone +61 4103 64542   email

Accessories: Coral cushions, from Indigo Designs. Casablanca Multi wool rug, from Armadillo. Waterford Crystal Seahorse Decanter in Cobalt, from Waterford. Jonathan Adler Nixon Drinks Table in brass, CR Essentials Ashley sofa, from Coco Republic.

words: Louise Richardson
pictures: Mark Heaslip
illustration: Malcolm White

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