NZ House & Garden - - CONTENTS -

o will it make you hap­pier?”

When NZ House & Gar­den’s as­so­ciate editor Rose­mary Bar­r­a­clough told her un­cle about plans for a fab­u­lous new kitchen, he stopped her in her tracks with this ques­tion. The an­swer, she de­cided on re­flec­tion, was yes.

She thought it was in­ter­est­ing, though, that she hadn’t specif­i­cally con­sid­ered that ques­tion be­fore. She was do­ing the kitchen for all the usual rea­sons that peo­ple ren­o­vate: be­cause it needed it, it would work bet­ter for her fam­ily, and so on. But her own hap­pi­ness hadn’t par­tic­u­larly fea­tured in her think­ing.

Rose­mary’s story is, I think, an in­trigu­ing one. Per­sonal hap­pi­ness is ar­guably the best and only real rea­son for home im­prove­ment, but it’s not one that most of us nec­es­sar­ily put top of our list when we are mak­ing de­ci­sions about what to do next around the house.

I am happy to re­port, then, that the Supreme Win­ner of our fourth In­te­rior of the Year awards (fea­tured on the cover of this spe­cial is­sue) is an ex­cep­tion. An­gela Kemp’s win­ning space – a ro­man­tic, whim­si­cal con­ser­va­tory – was de­signed solely as a place of plea­sure. It is a space to sit among flow­ers on a wet win­ter morn­ing, to look out at the stars on a clear sum­mer night. It de­liv­ers, An­gela says, happy mo­ments by the buck­et­load.

“And that is ab­so­lutely why I did it,” she says. “I’m not the most prac­ti­cal per­son. Hap­pi­ness is the rai­son d’être for ev­ery­thing I do to my home.”

When she lived in Auck­land and her kids were young, she loved to es­cape to the Auck­land Do­main’s Win­ter­gar­dens on win­ter week­ends. She loved the warm and plant-filled haven when it was cold out­side. She wanted that in her own home.

And so af­ter the kids left home and she found her­self in an old villa on a windy site in Pukekawa in the north Waikato, she went to work on a Win­ter­gar­dens-in­spired con­ser­va­tory. The Kemps had a small nest egg set aside for ren­o­va­tions: An­gela found a used con­ser­va­tory on Trade Me for $1000, and had it shipped up from Dunedin. It was in­stalled to open off her kitchen, sup­ported on a new deck, then a trick­ling water fea­ture was added ($180 from Trade Me).

The whole thing cost less than $10,000 and the re­sult is stun­ning. It wows An­gela’s vis­i­tors when they walk into her kitchen and see the heav­enly green oasis, and it wowed our judges: “A brave and au­da­cious vi­sion,” they said.

“It can be pour­ing down out­side,” says An­gela, “the wind can be howl­ing, and there’s this lit­tle haven full of green­ery just wait­ing there. You look at it and you can’t help but be happy.” Which says it all, re­ally. There are plenty more plea­sure spa­ces in our line-up of other win­ners, too, in­clud­ing a space that started out as a cov­ered stage for a 60th birth­day bash, dec­o­rated with a huge Mona Lisa, and a lav­ish room for cham­pagne-sip­ping in Eltham.

When al­most all we hear about are prop­erty prices and the hous­ing cri­sis, it makes a heart­warm­ing read. So turn to page 57 now: it’s bound to in­spire your own ren­o­va­tions, and it might just make you hap­pier, too.

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