Shopping: Artist Emma Bass’ favourite room
For flora photographer Emma Bass, home is where the art, and heart, is
Auckland artist Emma Bass lives in a 1950s house in Auckland’s Mt Eden with her two children, aged 17 and 9, a cat called Doormat and a cockatiel called Kowhai. An oasis of flourishing creativity, her lounge is a functional, comfortable and heartwarming space for her to work and play in. She’s also just remodelled the fireplace in exquisite earthy shades, to give the room a bit more soul.
What do you love about your home? The minute I walked into the house it felt like home. It’s open and light with easy, functioning areas. I used to live across the road and I befriended the previous owners. Whenever I came over for dinner I felt like I was in a timeless space. Luckily, when the owners moved on, we were offered the house as a private sale. It is my sanctuary, a loving home for my children and where I create my artworks. There is a wonderful community here in the old neighbourhood style of children running between houses. I love my neighbours!
Why is this room so important to you? I see my lounge as the beating heart of my home. Everything I choose to put in it gives me joy and pleasure. Somehow the busy life that surrounds me in this space gets infused into my works. My artworks happen among all of this, created on a very humble ledge in the lounge, surrounded by the constant flow of life and people. My work appears to be done in a studio, but in actual fact it’s done amid the chaotic swirl of life.
How would you describe your interior style? Eclectic and colourful. I have carried on the midcentury design aesthetic with my choice of furniture, such as my retro buttoned velvet lounge suite, G Plan coffee tables and George Nelson lamps. One of the drawbacks of a 1950s house is that, because of the many large windows, there isn’t a huge amount of wall space to hang art. I have been collecting art since
I was 19 and I’d like to hang more of it! I recently commissioned my friend artist Lucy Eglington to paint me an unusual portrait of my children and I. It is a wonderful little painting of us all leaping out of clouds naked (pictured opposite). It makes me laugh and reminds me that life is not to be taken too seriously.
What’s your favourite thing to do in the room? There are many things that happen in this room. People gathering, children playing, yoga sessions, work, and lots of creation. I love it being full of good people laughing and filling it with life. It’s a pivotal part of the house. Because the lounge is north-facing and has giant windows, it is bathed in all-day sun. On
winter evenings our glowing open fire becomes the soul of the room. I just wish I had more time to sit and stare into space and enjoy some quietness. One day.
What homeware stores do you frequent?
My brother and his family live in Nelson so whenever I visit them I go to a few little antique stores. Eclectic Antique Centre is brilliant and Richmond has a few gems.
What colour is on the walls? The walls are simple in Resene ‘Sea Fog’ white, a good neutral tone to offset all the colour and complexities. We have a very old kids’ height chart on one of the walls, which stops me freshening up the room with a lick of paint. Do you change the decor in this room often?
I do keep adding more to the room, including a lovely couple of couches I had made by Forma recently. They are my favourite colour of bluey green and are a peaceful place to sit. I couldn’t resist sprinkling them with floral cushions – I found some special ones at Timorous Beasties and Liberty. I usually have large arrangements of flowers, which can change the mood of the space, depending on the size and colour.
What would be your advice to someone redecorating? Surround yourself with decor that makes you happy. Don’t try to subscribe to a formula. Make it about you and your personality. It should be your sanctuary. Emma Bass’ new artworks, along with those of three other artists, can be found at the Parnell Gallery Flower Show exhibition in Auckland, September 11-25.
Tell us about your fireplace.It is a square, brick fireplace typical of the 1950s with a raised hearth, and it’s the focal point of my lounge. It used to have theoriginal raw bricks and I struggled for years to remain a purist – but it was time for achange. I painted it three different colours before I settled on Resene ‘Half Pavlova’. It’s calming and sets off my new hearth, which is an exquisite Indian marble in earthy shades of green and brown. It jumped out at me when I was searching for stone at Italian Stone. It was the perfect fit and sits like a jewel inthe middle of my lounge.
What are your favourite homeware pieces here? Well, of course I would have tosay my vases. I have a vast collection amassed from all overthe world. I used to scour secondhand stores, but have found these diminishing as online selling becomes more prevalent. I am now an eBay aficionado, something I have to temper a bit as I’m running out of space in my house. I love the fact that the vases’ display cabinet cost just $30 onTrade Me.
LEFT Emma’s work showcases her unique collection of vases. RIGHT A painting by friend Lucy Eglington.