Trudy han­nan doesn’t do bor­ing. Her char­ac­ter villa in the leafy Auck­land sub­urb of Herne Bay is teem­ing with pat­tern and colour: bold wall­pa­pers, jewel-toned vel­vets and quirky cush­ions. Trudy’s fun ap­proach to dec­o­rat­ing re­flects her at­ti­tude to­wards life. As a one-year-old she was di­ag­nosed with cys­tic fi­bro­sis and 16 years ago un­der­went a dou­ble lung trans­plant and since then she has cho­sen to look on the bright side of life at all times. “I try to find a sil­ver lin­ing in ev­ery­thing,” she says. “There are so many beau­ti­ful things out there that it’s easy to be in­spired.”

Trudy and hus­band Gor­don Trainer, an en­tre­pre­neur, moved to Herne Bay from the North Shore three years ago. Though the re­cently mar­ried cou­ple had de­cided they’d had enough of rent­ing, they weren’t ac­tively look­ing for a place to buy. “We weren’t go­ing to auc­tions and open homes ev­ery weekend. We were just cruis­ing,” says Trudy. “And then Gor­don just hap­pened to see this house in a mag­a­zine.”

A serendip­i­tous con­nec­tion with the real es­tate agent meant a visit was quickly ar­ranged. Walk­ing through the 120-year-old villa, Trudy knew in­stantly it was the one. There was plenty of room for guests and the sunny square of lawn at the rear of the house was just big enough for Trudy’s two young nieces to run around. Best of all, it of­fered a blank can­vas to which Trudy could add her own flair: “It was just per­fect for us.” >

The circa-1890 villa was once the cen­tre of an ex­ten­sive or­chard – a cou­ple of gnarled fruit trees in neigh­bour­ing gar­dens are the only rem­nants – and had un­der­gone sev­eral ren­o­va­tions over the years. The most re­cent work took place two years be­fore Trudy and Gor­don bought the property in 2010.

A de­vel­oper added the light-filled kitchen, din­ing and liv­ing area that opens onto the ex­pan­sive deck where Trudy and Gor­don now bar­be­cue (a re­cent din­ner, cooked al­fresco, in­cluded roast lamb and pota­toes roasted – “of course,” says Trudy – in duck fat). The rest of the house was also mod­ernised, though the spirit of the villa re­mained in the high ceil­ings and mould­ings, pic­ture win­dows at the front of the house and the orig­i­nal hard­wood floors in the long hall­way. >

“That’s what drew me to it,” says Trudy. “I al­ways wanted a char­ac­ter home.” The villa was, how­ever, very beige.

Trudy en­gaged in­te­rior de­signer Me­gan Poole to help with the villa’s makeover. As a self-de­scribed lady of leisure, it was im­por­tant to Trudy that the house was per­fect. “I don’t have chil­dren and I don’t work so my house is my ev­ery­thing. I spend a lot of time here and so it was re­ally im­por­tant to love it.”

She col­lected im­ages to give to Me­gan, along with a brief heav­ily in­spired by the lux­u­ri­ous, of­ten quirky bou­tique ho­tels she and Gor­don have stayed at here and over­seas, such as the Nice Ho­tel in New Ply­mouth and the MGallery Fran­cis Ho­tel in Bath.

Me­gan would turn up bear­ing books filled with fab­ric and wall­pa­per sam­ples and de­signs for the be­spoke fur­ni­ture that now fills the house. “It was so much fun,” says Trudy. “I’d show her a pic­ture and say, ‘I re­ally love this’ and she would find it.”

De­spite a predilec­tion for colour (“I’m not a very neu­tral per­son”), Trudy doesn’t think she has a par­tic­u­lar dec­o­rat­ing style. “I don’t fit into one cat­e­gory. I like a mix­ture of things. I like colour and a bit of whimsy and for it to be fun but glam­orous. And I love wall­pa­per.”

That’s some­thing of an un­der­state­ment. Wall­pa­per is a fea­ture of al­most ev­ery room in the house. >

Fuch­sia de­tails in the liv­ing room are back­dropped by a graphic black and white de­sign by De­sign­ers Guild, the guest bed­room – with its candy-coloured blinds and cush­ions – is dom­i­nated by a clas­sic For­nasetti pat­tern and the hall­way is pa­pered with sil­very damask. “Wall­pa­per makes such a dif­fer­ence to a room,” says Trudy. “It adds a sparkle.”

The main bath­room is one of the few spa­ces where the walls re­main bare… but not for long. Trudy’s cur­rently work­ing on con­vinc­ing Gor­don. “He can’t get his mind around the idea of wall­pa­per in a bath­room.”

In­deed, though Gor­don has mostly gone with the flow in terms of the decor (“I ran ev­ery­thing past him but he’s just kind of like ‘what­ever’: he’s per­fect. I don’t think I could have a hus­band who cared about all that!”) his down­stairs study re­mains un­touched (and equipped with a big-screen TV). “It’s a shocker,” says Trudy. “I don’t take guests down there.” Even­tu­ally, she hopes to trans­form it into a gen­tle­man’s club-style sa­lon fea­tur­ing dark tones and wood on wood.

In the mean­time she’s happy pot­ter­ing about her colourful home, bak­ing ( Blue­bells Cak­ery cook­book is a cur­rent favourite: “I’ve done a cou­ple of things and they turn out per­fect, just like the pic­ture!”), gar­den­ing and hang­ing out with her nieces. “I find lit­tle need to stress about any­thing. I truly choose to live a re­lax­ing life.”

THIS PAGE (clock­wise from top left) Trudy’s chaise longue was cus­tom-made for her by De­sign­ers Collection and up­hol­stered in San­der­son vel­vet. Gor­don’s arm­chair was de­signed to ac­com­mo­date his con­sid­er­able height com­fort­ably. Trudy bought the Wedg­wood vase at Har­rods; Jo Malone scents and can­dles per­fume the house.

OP­PO­SITE Al­though Gor­don would have liked a 50-inch screen in the cosy tele­vi­sion room, Trudy put her foot down: “I’m not a big fan of a room be­ing ori­ented around a tele­vi­sion. I like other points of in­ter­est”; the mir­ror and sil­ver leaf cab­i­nets are from CC In­te­ri­ors and the wall­pa­per is Per­sia Ro­coco Mir­ror by Zof­fany.

THIS PAGE (clock­wise from left) The hall­way fea­tures Cole & Son Albe­marle Baude­laire wall­pa­per; the English mak­ers re­quested pic­tures once it had been hung as it was the first time the de­sign had been used. Trudy bought the ducks in the bath­room “years ago” and they’ve fol­lowed her from house to house: “Ev­ery­one com­ments on them. When you’re sit­ting on the toi­let it’s not what you ex­pect to have two ducks look­ing at you!” The De­sign­ers Collection Annabelle chair in the mas­ter bed­room is up­hol­stered in Delauney fab­ric by Unique Fabrics. Af­ter­noon sun pours into the mas­ter bed­room.

OP­PO­SITE The cus­tom-made head­board is a re­cent ad­di­tion to the mas­ter bed­room, made by Win­dow De­sign In­te­ri­ors and up­hol­stered in Cather­ine Martin fab­ric.

THIS PAGE (from top) Trudy and Gor­don met seven or eight years ago when both were work­ing at Ernst & Young. Fret­work around the ve­randa and a clas­sic gar­den de­sign un­der­score the pe­riod char­ac­ter of the home.

OP­PO­SITE Vis­i­tors love the colourful guest bed­room, which fea­tures Cole & Son For­nasetti Tema e Vari­azioni wall­pa­per and Trudy’s much-loved Lamb Chop stuffed toy.

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