– take a snoop inside three homes with individual flair
Former fashion designer Claire Kingan-Jones has created a relaxed feel in the Auckland home she shares with her husband and teenage sons. The former owner/designer of women’s fashion labels RJC and Kingan-Jones has travelled extensively, particularly in India, Bali and her native South Africa, where she picked up both knick-knacks for her home and a fearless approach to colour. So it was an easy decision for her to work with interior designer and former Republic publicist Fiona McLeod to create a “resort feel” in her Herne Bay home.
She and husband Struan Kingan bought the two-storey house when sons Byron and Oscar were preschoolers. They enlisted architect Andrew Meiring to reconfigure the property, which now has four bedrooms, three bathrooms and three living areas. The sleek, modern kitchen opens onto a patio and sizeable pool with a barbecue area, all in keeping with Kingan-Jones’ love of casual entertaining and “a busy, noisy household”.
She enjoys hunting for décor finds that she can revamp, favouring mid-century modern and art deco pieces and describes her interior style as eclectic, contemporary with classical references. “I don’t like being precious about a space,” she says.
Naomi Larkin takes a sneak peek behind the doors of three homes with
Above: the armchair, white goat skin ottoman, copper drum stool (used as a side table) and yellow vase in the formal lounge are all from Republic. Right: the wooden dining table and cream ceramic dinnerware are also from Republic. The glasses and feathered lightshade are Kingan-Jones’ own. Below left: the framed photograph, taken by Kingan-Jones’ father, adds to the retro look created by the chocolate tie-dyed chair and sideboard, both from Republic. Right: Kingan-Jones designed the kitchen to enhance her love of cooking.
Vicki Vuleta and Gary Langsford are prominent members of the New Zealand art and design scene, so it’s hardly surprising their home is an absolute standout. A massive concrete cube spanning four levels and straddling a corner on Auckland’s Upper Queen Street, the building also houses Vuleta’s art, vintage and interiors business, Design55, and is home to her 19-year-old daughter Isabella.
The couple bought the former warehouse in 2005, completely gutted it and engaged the services of New York-based Kiwi architect David Howell. “It was designed to be sculptural from the outside,” says Langsford, a long-time art collector, dealer and owner of the Gow Langsford galleries in Lorne and Kitchener streets.
Inside it’s a slick, high-walled, allwhite space that showcases the couple’s extraordinary art, furniture and objet collection to perfection. Modern masterpieces by the likes of British artist Damien Hirst are mixed with high lycollectable 1940s Italian vintage furniture, a rare historic wooden cross from the Solomon Islands, a silver plate by Pablo Picasso and glasswork by Anne Robinson. “You can put anything together so long as the quality is right,” says Langsford.
The open-plan kitchen, dining and principal living area is the heart of the home as the couple entertain often – for business and pleasure. “We love sharing it because we’re passionate about what we do,” says Vuleta.
On the top floor is the couple’s bedroom and ensuite bathroom (with a view to downtown Auckland and the harbour from the tub), opening onto a large balcony and rooftop-style garden with enviable views over the city to the Waitakere Ranges. “The garden is my sanctuary,” says Vuleta. “It’s our space.” This is true urban living and it fits the couple’s lifestyle and professional needs to a tee. “I didn’t want to be moving lawns in Herne Bay or cleaning pools,” says Langsford.
Above left: a painting by Aboriginal artist Jack Dale Mengenen hangs above an antique Solomon Islands crucifix displayed on a 1940s Osvaldo Borsani console. The paintings are by Miranda Parkes. Above right: the artwork is by Damien Hirst and the Puppy vase is by Jeff Koons. The Fornasetti candle (stocked by Design55) sits beside a painting by Colin McCahon. Below left: the painting is by Dale Frank, the white limited-edition Cactus by Gufram, the steel dining table is vintage French and the crystal bowl is by Anne Robinson. Right: the wall
installation was completed by Sara Hughes, the silver plate in the centre is by Pablo Picasso and the skull artwork by Andy Warhol.
When North & South art director and columnist Jenny Nicholls bought her 1940s cottage on Waiheke in 2007, it was more holiday crash pad than the permanent home Nicholls needed. “There was enough shelf space for a few cans of spaghetti and some togs, but not enough for my books or even my shoes!” You couldn’t swing a cat in the kitchen, and the rainwater tank was the size of a washing machine. To cap it all, everything was a dreary beige, except the carpet, which was grey.
After the first crucial purchase (a bigger rainwater tank), Nicholls set to work bringing colour into the house with some nail-biting online buys.
The mercury gold glass lights, linen curtains and Fornasetti fish wallpaper were all impulsive sale bargains from US website anthropologie.com.
Then a fortuitous island friendship with spatial designer Michelle Ben Zur made everything easier. “I saw her house,” says Nicholls, “and thought: I need some of that!” Ben Zur made architectural drawings of Nicholls’ two-storey home, reworking the kitchen, dining area, bathroom and laundry without changing the footprint. “I thought I could do the interior design myself, but it is much more efficient working with a professional. Michelle is an ideas machine.” Setting cube shelves into the kitchen wall, for instance, freed up space in the kitchen and, in a stroke, also made space for a bookshelf in the bedroom.
Ben Zur supervised the building and tiling and even designed the bookcases and lighting herself. “I’m beige phobic – I love mixing patterns,” says Nicholls. “A great designer like Michelle is a personality flavour enhancer.”
Above left: a steel pole holds pots and utensils at arm’s reach in the small kitchen. Two Ikea trolleys work well as portable under-bench pantries. Above right: the sideboard was a Trade Me bargain. The glass light and Fornasetti wallpaper are from anthropologie.com. Below left: the chest of drawers in the bedroom is by Waiheke designer Heidi Altmann. Below right: the deep bookcase was designed by Michelle Ben Zur. The handpainted ceramic poodle was made in Japan in the 50s. The wall displays pictures by photographers Nicholls has worked with.
Above: console, feathered orange hat and pink ceramic vases all from Republic. Left: KinganJones wearing Staple + Cloth on her patio.
Above: Vuleta and Langsford in their Auckland home. Langsford is seated in a Campana brothers Alligator chair. Right: a collection of objet including a lemon glass cloche by Luke Jacomb.
Left: Nicholls sits on a vintage Manatunga rug by Mosgiel Woollens. Her Afghan kilim rug is a cherished 80s Christmas gift from her father. Below: a junk shop mid-century cabinet houses storage boxes from Kate Spade. The painting is by Taranaki artist John McLean, the cartoon by Trace Hodgson, and the crayon drawing by Waiheke artist Mike Gibson. The moon table lamp was designed by Michelle Ben Zur (moonlights.co.nz).