Homestyle New Zealand - - CONTENTS - WORDS Leanne Moore PHOTOGR APHY He­len Bankers

Af­ter an enigmatic in­tro­duc­tion, this tree­house-like home has come to fit its own­ers like a glove.

Af­ter an enigmatic in­tro­duc­tion, this tree­house-like home has come to fit its own­ers like a glove.


ex­pe­ri­enced a life-chang­ing mo­ment while out run­ning. Jog­ging down one of her favourite streets in Auck­land’s Block­house Bay, she came across a ‘for sale’ sign. Even though she couldn’t see the house, which was hid­den down a tree-lined drive­way, she could tell it was po­si­tioned on a sunny slope with har­bour views.

“This is go­ing to sound crazy, but my dad had just died and I be­lieve he led me here,” she says. “I’ve al­ways ad­mired this street and dreamed about liv­ing here one day. We were about to ren­o­vate the house we were liv­ing in, but af­ter I saw this place, ev­ery­thing changed.”

Aban­don­ing their ren­o­va­tion plans, Melle and her hus­band Adam put in an of­fer – and the two-storey 1950s brick-and-tile home was theirs. They be­gan work­ing on it al­most im­me­di­ately. “[Some] peo­ple ren­o­vate just be­fore they sell, but I wanted to cre­ate a home we could en­joy from the start,” says Melle. “We’ve never re­gret­ted that de­ci­sion.”

Melle and Adam did a lot of the labour them­selves, in­clud­ing paint­ing the in­te­rior •

up­stairs and down. They ripped up the cream car­pet to re­veal tim­ber floor­ing in mint con­di­tion, and up­dated the tired old bath­room, cre­at­ing a glam yet fam­ily-friendly space with white sub­way tiles and brass de­tail­ing.

Melle has a strong sense of her own style. The key to cre­at­ing a co­he­sive look, she says, is stick­ing to a re­stricted colour pal­ette. “I pre­fer neu­trals with black, gold and grey ac­cents and a lit­tle in­jec­tion of colour here and there. I also love wood for the way it adds warmth.”

The house is dot­ted with trea­sures – many of which cost next to noth­ing. Melle dis­cov­ered a few of her favourite pieces dis­carded on the side of the road; oth­ers are thrift shop finds. “I love the thrill of the chase,” she says. “Noth­ing makes me hap­pier than go­ing into an op shop and dis­cov­er­ing a bar­gain. I get a lot of com­ments about th­ese pieces. I’ll find a lamp, for ex­am­ple, and put a new shade on it, and it in­stantly looks a mil­lion bucks.”

Al­though bar­gain buys give her a great sense of sat­is­fac­tion, one thing Melle does in­vest in is art. It’s a pas­sion she de­vel­oped while •

back­pack­ing with Adam in the US al­most 20 years ago. The cou­ple vis­ited a mod­ern art mu­seum in Brook­lyn, New York: “That was the first time I’d been ex­posed to art at that level – and that’s when my love af­fair with art be­gan.”

Now known for her own cre­ative tal­ents, Melle says she fell into hair­dress­ing, which led to makeup artistry and, more re­cently, styling. “I ab­so­lutely love styling,” she says. “Be­ing born and raised in small-town West­ern Aus­tralia, I never knew you could make a ca­reer out of it. Where I’m from, the ca­reer op­tions were hair­dresser, nurse or teacher. It was only when I left home at 19 and went to Lon­don that I dis­cov­ered all th­ese other op­tions.”

Melle calls New Zealand home af­ter mov­ing here from Lon­don with Kiwi-born Adam 17 years ago. Hav­ing cre­ated the home of her dreams, she likes noth­ing more than hang­ing out there. “I love just pot­ter­ing around. As an only child, I’d spend hours in my bed­room, mak­ing things and chang­ing it around while lis­ten­ing to mu­sic. That was my happy place, and not much has changed! It takes a lot to drag me away from here.”

ABOVE Ban­quette seat­ing in the din­ing room does dou­ble duty as stor­age. Melle cov­ered the squabs and cush­ions in gold vel­vet fab­ric from War­wick. FAR LEFT The cabinet in the hall­way is filled with white vases Melle col­lected from vin­tage stores. Above it hangs

Rooke by pho­tog­ra­pher Robert Tra­then. LEFT Stick­ing to sim­i­lar hues is im­por­tant when it comes to get­ting a dis­play right, says Melle. Here a clus­ter of pic­tures from sec­ond­hand stores ties in with an arm­chair bought at an auc­tion.

OP­PO­SITE Key pieces in the liv­ing area in­clude a sofa from Forma and an ot­toman and side ta­ble found on Trade Me. The score­board light was pur­chased from Pa­per Plane.

ABOVE Melle bought this side­board for a mere $50 on Trade Me and spray-painted it pale blue. The art­work above it is by Louise McRae. FAR LEFT The cou­ple turned the sec­ond lounge up­stairs into a workspace. LEFT A vin­tage drinks trol­ley adds a touch of glam to the liv­ing area. Melle bought the Reuben Pater­son Cer­e­mony Seek­ers art­work in mem­ory of her fa­ther. “Ev­ery time I look at that beau­ti­ful piece, I think of him.” OP­PO­SITE The din­ing room has ex­pan­sive views of the tree­tops and the Manukau Har­bour be­yond. Melle found the pre-loved pen­dant light that hangs above the Ur­ban & Beach Life­style Fur­ni­ture ta­ble at Just Plane In­ter­est­ing. The rug is from Col­lect Liv­ing.

ABOVE Melle’s par­tic­u­lar about the shades she likes to sur­round her­self with at home; pri­mary colours are banned, even in the chil­dren’s bed­rooms. Sa­vanna’s space is dec­o­rated with a mix of old and new, in­clud­ing a vin­tage lamp and head­board and a wall hang­ing from Kmart. FAR LEFT Re­sene Dou­ble Rakaia is a calm­ing inf lu­ence in the mas­ter bed­room, off­set by inky black and a shot of orange. LEFT & OP­PO­SITE Miller’s room has a surf-and-skate theme and is filled with pieces the fam­ily cre­ated them­selves. Miller made the art­work that sits on the desk, Adam made the an­chor on top of the shelv­ing from Free­dom, and Melle made the macramé wall hang­ing above the bed.

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