Home base

The own­ers of some of Auck­land’s fresh­est cafés get many of their best ideas in their sub­ur­ban villa HQ.

Homestyle New Zealand - - PEOPLE —— SPACE TO CREATE - IN­TER­VIEW Alice Lines PHO­TOG­RA­PHY Larnie Ni­col­son

They’ve gone above and beyond the call of amaz­ing-cabi­net-food-and-In­sta­wor­thy-dishes-please duty with their Auck­land cafés Lit­tle Sis­ter, Hello Friends & Al­lies, Wi­nona For­ever, Ma­jor Tom, Rude Boy, Fri­day I’m In Love and Sugar, and re­cently opened their first restau­rant, Fang. Fran Mazza and Aaron Car­son clearly have a call­ing for both great food and great names for eater­ies — and here is where the magic hap­pens.

How long have you guys worked from this Free­man’s Bay home away from home, Fran?

We bought it in 2017. We needed a base that had a test kitchen, and af­ter con­sid­er­ing a lot of com­mer­cial prop­er­ties, this just made sense, so rather than lease a space, we de­cided to buy.

What was the house like when you found it?

It was a good can­vas to start with; the bones were great and the pre­vi­ous own­ers had done a good job with the im­por­tant stuff when they ren­o­vated. We re­placed the light­ing and re­painted through­out be­fore start­ing on the in­te­rior de­sign. The kitchen was ac­tu­ally quite good, but we pulled it out and put a semi-com­mer­cial one in.

What do you get up to here?

We spend time here most days. The lounge and din­ing area dou­ble as a com­mu­nal workspace for us and our head of­fice staff, who come and go as they need to, and the kitchen is used to cre­ate and test menus for our eater­ies. Aaron and I have an­other house in Avon­dale and split our time be­tween the two, so we’ve ar­ranged this one so the work stuff can dis­ap­pear quite quickly if

nec­es­sary and we can stay here with our three kids when it suits. What’s the most con­ve­nient thing about work­ing here?

It’s so cen­tral; it’s an easy walk to Pon­sonby, the water­front and the city, and the mo­tor­ways in all direc­tions are less than a kilo­me­tre away. It’s in the in­ner city, yet it’s so peace­ful and we have a beau­ti­ful sub­trop­i­cal gar­den that you’d never know was there from the road. How did you de­cide on the aes­thetic for the in­te­rior?

I’d de­scribe our style as eclec­tic or­gan­ised chaos. I love a wel­com­ing space that makes peo­ple feel at home when they walk in, so that’s al­ways a driver for any in­te­rior I’m in­volved with, whether it’s a café, a restau­rant or a house.

Some­times a piece of fur­ni­ture or art will dic­tate the di­rec­tion the aes­thetic of the space takes, and I also love colour. For me, it’s im­por­tant to be sur­rounded by vi­brancy and life. Grow­ing up in an Ital­ian fam­ily and spend­ing time in Italy def­i­nitely had an ef­fect on how

I see in­te­ri­ors. What I love about the Ital­ians is that when they pur­chase fur­ni­ture or art, it’s for life. My un­cle still had his cool red retro plug-in tele­phone in his house when we vis­ited him in 2014. What are you drawn to when it comes to buy­ing and com­mis­sion­ing art for your eater­ies?

Art is ob­vi­ously very per­sonal and sub­jec­tive, and you have to be pre­pared to stare at it every day for years on end if you in­vest in it. I love Frances Hansen’s work as she uses colours I’m

THIS PAGE The villa was built in 1911 and its orig­i­nal rimu floors still re­main. En­liven­ing the home’s lovely bones are paint­ings by New Zealand artist Frances Hansen — her work can be spot­ted through­out. The quirky Mon­key lamp is from Seletti. OP­PO­SITE Cook­books are stacked high on the din­ing ta­ble that dou­bles as a work­sta­tion. The Tolix stools and rug seen here are from Mad­der & Rouge — as are the cush­ions that tie to­gether these liv­ing spa­ces’ in­ter­est­ing com­bi­na­tion of pas­tels and jewel tones.

GOOD TASTE Fran en­sures flour, sugar, cho­co­late, Ital­ian pasta and olive oil, Ar­bo­rio rice, stock, olives, pecorino cheese, flaky sea salt, herbs and spices are al­ways on hand in the fridge and vin­tage pantry from The Vitrine. “I work long hours and when I have to whip up din­ner for our fam­ily of five, pasta is my go-to. I can do a lot with noth­ing, which is not a skill to be scoffed at.”

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