My favourite space: and ‘‘more is more’’
In Sonia Couling’s century-old Warkworth villa, bright colours resonate on the walls and the shelves are alive with vast and varied collections of treasures.
The house’s original bones remain unchanged, however. ‘‘We knew right from the start that there was no way we could alter the house layout,’’ says Sonia. ‘‘The walls are concrete – 25cm thick. Luckily, I instantly loved the high ceilings and large scale of the rooms, which all open off the wide central hallway. Every day when I step in through the front door I feel enveloped by the house; its solidity makes me feel safe.’’
But safe isn’t a guiding decorating principle for Sonia. Having worked their magic on a previous home, a renovation in Auckland’s Northcote, Sonia and her husband Chris were keen to breathe free-wheeling new life into this old house.
Previous owners of the fourbedroom villa had completed major upgrades, such as the roof. The white picket fence that hugs the edge of the front garden and the kauri floorboards that run through the house were also in great condition.
Elsewhere, however, it was a different story. The house had been rented out for years and a muddy mix of clashing colours filled every room.
‘‘The sitting room was definitely the worst,’’ says Sonia. ‘‘The walls were burgundy, with one yellow statement wall. There were purple curtains and a green carpet. The house was a mess and didn’t feel like a home at all.’’
Not so anymore. Sonia, who works as a buyer and merchandiser for vintage Junk & Disorderly on Auckland’s North Shore, is a talented magpie whose approach to interior design falls into the maximalist camp. ‘‘More is definitely more,’’ she says. ‘‘My house might be full, but I can always find space for things that make me smile, like vintage signs, or my pair of plastic fishmonger’s lobsters.’’
The spectators sign, from Old School Inc in Matakana, sitting on the living room fireplace once hung at Eden Park. The trophies are collected from junk stores.