Not so long ago, I sat in on a session in which the inimitable Caroline Montague of Matisse advised a group of design aficionados to forget about trends when buying new furniture and think more about things you love: heirlooms, collections... and one ‘wrong’ thing that sets off everything else. It made me feel a lot better about my own decidedly ‘eclectic’ house. We have too many books and an odd-ball collection of vintage pieces – a table by Parker Furniture picked up on Trade Me, a set of Ligna bentwood chairs found on the side of the road and restored – along with ceramics and glassware, inherited and collected. We have a minor addiction to armchairs, including a ‘Safari’ chair by Kaare Klint for Carl Hansen, which was a wedding present from my mum. And our ‘wrong’ thing? A USM sideboard in a vivid shade of ‘USM Green’ that was also a wedding present from my wife Hannah’s parents, which sits nicely below a haunting landscape of post-quake Christchurch by David Straight. It also got me thinking about the cover home for this issue: a thoughtful design by Andrew Meiring in stone and black-stained shingles that’s been added to a white wooden house in Devonport, Auckland. Faced with a heritage villa, the architect has knitted the needs of a modern household around the bones of an old house. It’s contemporary, but it’s not austere: it lets the owners inhabit it as they want to. See, most residential architecture is bespoke but not all of it is as personal as the homes in this issue. They are wonderful expressions of their owners’ needs: occasionally offbeat, and sometimes even odd. They are not houses where you have to throw everything out before you move in. In short, they all have at least one ‘wrong’ thing. And that’s what makes them work.