Mem­ory Box

Home­wares afi­cionado Deb­bie Stevens has cre­ated both style and pock­ets of mean­ing in her home.

Good - - CONTENTS - Words Leanne Moore. Pho­tog­ra­phy He­len Bankers

A peek in­side Deb­bie Stevens cosy cot­tage

When it comes to turn­ing a run­down cot­tage into a beau­ti­ful home Deb­bie Stevens is some­thing of an al­chemist. Layer by layer, she has trans­formed the in­te­rior of her Auck­land home, fill­ing it with trea­sures that she and her part­ner Syd have col­lected over the past 20 years. The cou­ple has grad­u­ally al­tered and ex­panded the cot­tage’s floor plan, al­low­ing it to grow with their life­style.

“As young peo­ple I think we some­times look at older peo­ple’s homes and think, ‘good­ness they’ve got so much stuff’! I’ve come to re­alise – now that I’m one of those older peo­ple – that your life is a col­lec­tion of mem­o­ries and I tend to sur­round my­self with things that evoke these mem­o­ries,” says Stevens, the owner of Source Home + Ob­ject, a home­wares show­room for re­tail­ers, in­te­rior de­sign­ers and stylists.

“I’ve been lucky enough to have had a few dif­fer­ent ca­reers over the years – I was a pro­fes­sional dancer and Syd is an ac­tor. Per­form­ing was a huge part of our lives and I wanted a nod to this at home so I’ve dis­played some pho­to­graphs from those years in the din­ing room. I’ve also worked for years in the home­wares in­dus­try and have col­lected many items that have been ei­ther sam­ples or gifts from sup­pli­ers. These pieces all add per­son­al­ity to our home.”

Stevens ad­mits there are times when she con­sid­ers dra­mat­i­cally chang­ing the dé­cor, usu­ally when she sees a new range by one of Source’s ex­hibitors. “I think, ‘wouldn’t it be won­der­ful to start all over again from scratch,’ but then I go home to that com­fort­able slip­per that is my home and the idea doesn’t go any fur­ther.”


“At work I am sur­rounded by colour. I find it quite dif­fi­cult nar­row­ing down my favourites but I find that black, neu­trals and touches of red are my go-to colours. Our liv­ing room is rea­son­ably dark but paint­ing the win­dow sur­rounds and doors Re­sene Bokara Grey made the room feel like it was wrap­ping its arms around me. This room is re­ally cosy in win­ter and dur­ing sum­mer we fling the doors open and the gar­den feels like part of the in­te­rior dé­cor. The dark colour on the win­dows just seems to dis­ap­pear and blend with the green­ery. The touches of red bring the house alive. I couldn’t live with too much of it but a few splashes just seem to warm ev­ery­thing up. Hav­ing said that, I’ve got a new bed­room dé­cor in mind that is go­ing to be quite dif­fer­ent. I plan to mix blush pink and prim­rose yel­low with shades of grey – watch this space!


Be­ing a stylist I love ar­rang­ing and re­ar­rang­ing vi­gnettes around the house. I own a lot of bits and pieces and although it means ev­ery sur­face is cov­ered with some­thing, I get to change things around and have a lit­tle play. My din­ing room ta­ble is my ‘can­vas’. I love chang­ing the dis­play on it and most weeks it gets a new look. I have a col­lec­tion of match­boxes from the 60s and 70s that my par­ents col­lected on their over­seas trav­els. For years they were dis­played in a big glass bowl but I wanted to see more of them, so I sorted them into colour blocks and stuck them to the back wall of some book­shelves. That way I can see them all the time.


I have al­ways had a pretty cre­ative mind and I’m lucky that I live with some­one who is able to turn those cre­ative thoughts into re­al­ity. I’ve got a ‘can do’ at­ti­tude as well and be­ing ex­posed to so many prod­ucts and so­lu­tions at my place of busi­ness I can usu­ally come up with an an­swer to a stor­age or small fur­ni­ture dilemma, whether it’s drilling out a piece of ply­wood and pop­ping in some dowel to cre­ate a hat­stand or turn­ing a wicker bas­ket up­side down to cre­ate a side ta­ble. It just takes think­ing out­side the square to make a space more in­ter­est­ing and per­sonal.


I am a bit of a hoarder – just ask my daugh­ter! I’m try­ing to cull but I love hav­ing things around me that are mean­ing­ful and tell a story and evoke mem­o­ries. I have a beau­ti­ful col­lec­tion of small sil­ver items that I gave to my mother, who passed away in 2013. I love tak­ing the time to clean all the lit­tle boxes and jugs as it gives me an op­por­tu­nity to think about her. I also love putting like with like. For ex­am­ple, if I find a few small frames I’ll look for more to build a col­lec­tion to hang on a wall. I’m a pushover for any­thing small so God help me if I ever get into doll houses!”

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