THE PROJECT

Homestyle New Zealand - - HOMES -

Pol­icy ad­vi­sors Tara Mor­ton and Nick Wal­bridge up­dated this three-bed­room home plus stu­dio in Waikanae for them­selves and to rent on Airbnb.

market, it seemed as if the de­ci­sion had been made. Tara as­sumed it had been sold and tried to move on — while keeping one eye on the prop­erty sites to see if it reap­peared.

“It seemed to of­fer ev­ery­thing that big cities like New York and Cairo didn’t: lush green­ery, wide open space, a ten­nis court, and a pool that was hard to be­lieve,” she says. “The in­cred­i­ble mid-cen­tury ar­chi­tec­ture had a Ja­pa­nese/Cal­i­for­nian vibe that felt beau­ti­ful and re­laxed.”

Months later, Nick was pre­par­ing for a trip home to New Zealand when Tara had a last look on­line. To her de­light, there was River­bank, with the auc­tion set for two weeks later, the day af­ter Nick ar­rived in Welling­ton. With no time for sec­ond thoughts, he flew in, caught a train from the city to Waikanae to view the house, and be­gan to pre­pare for ac­tion at the auc­tion the next day. As Tara waited ea­gerly on the phone in New York, he all but won the house at auc­tion, and fol­low­ing a pe­riod of ne­go­ti­a­tion, their dreams were fi­nally re­alised — in the spring of 2016, River­bank was theirs.

The long settlement pe­riod gave the apart­ment-dwellers plenty of time to plot how they were go­ing to fill a 410m2 home with three bed­rooms, a study and a stu­dio. “Tara had been dream­ing about this place for so

long that she’d ac­tu­ally started scout­ing and se­lect­ing fur­ni­ture be­fore we bought it,” says Nick. “Us­ing the floor plan as a guide, and a de­tailed spread­sheet, we ef­fec­tively fur­nished it com­pletely be­fore mov­ing in, all while liv­ing in New York.”

The mod­ernist aes­thetic of the home, built in 1965 by orig­i­nal owner Lloyd Parker, was well worth honour­ing, so the cou­ple took a pared-back ap­proach to their fur­nish­ings. “We were in­spired by some of the in­no­va­tive de­sign hap­pen­ing in ho­tels in the US — The Stan­dard Mi­ami and Ace Ho­tel Palm Springs in par­tic­u­lar,” says Tara. “We were also in­flu­enced by Scan­di­na­vian mod­ernism and a bit of a laid-back surf/camp vibe, and wanted to mix all of that to­gether.”

In April 2017, Tara and Nick moved in, giv­ing them­selves a month to paint the in­te­rior be­fore they re­turned to work. “The pre­vi­ous own­ers had done some high-quality ren­o­va­tions, so we were lucky, but the walls packed a punch,” says Nick. “In the kitchen they were red, orange and pur­ple, one bath­room was a dark metal­lic pur­ple, and there was a yel­low bath­room and a red-orange kitch­enette in the stu­dio.”

The cou­ple en­listed the help of in­te­rior de­signer/stylist Katie Lock­hart to come

up with a colour scheme, and the re­sult­ing pal­ette blends seam­lessly with the home’s ar­chi­tec­tural de­tails while en­hanc­ing the peace­ful am­biance of the in­te­rior.

At the cen­tre of the house is an en­trance hall where stone paving and a pair of pot­ted palms give you a ‘just ar­rived in Palm Springs’ wel­come. As you con­tinue in­side, your eye is nat­u­rally drawn out into the Ja­pa­nese court­yard gar­den de­vel­oped by a pre­vi­ous owner, a land­scape ar­chi­tect.

Sun streams into the north-fac­ing liv­ing and din­ing rooms all year round, and both spa­ces are kept cosy in win­ter by the log burner and gas cen­tral heat­ing. Orig­i­nal fea­tures such as mag­nif­i­cent Wil­liam Mor­ris wall­pa­per of­fer charm­ing Wes An­der­son­esque mo­ments.

With a craft brew­ery and art­house cinema within walk­ing dis­tance, Tara and Nick still en­joy some as­pects of the life they had in Brook­lyn, and with the pic­ture com­pleted by their straight­for­ward train com­mute into the city for work, they say they don’t have a sin­gle re­gret about mak­ing the move.

“We love liv­ing in Waikanae,” says Tara. “Be­cause it’s so com­pletely dif­fer­ent to the other places we’ve lived in re­cent years, we don’t re­ally make any com­par­isons. We do miss the ease and af­ford­abil­ity of on­line shop­ping in the US, and the some­what lim­ited nightlife op­tions on the Kapiti Coast en­sure we have to be a bit more or­gan­ised about cre­at­ing our own fun, but in many other places in the world, you couldn’t dream of liv­ing some­where like this while work­ing in a cap­i­tal city. We con­sider our­selves very for­tu­nate.”

ABOVE A Drop Leaf ta­ble by Er­col and chairs by Thonet sit in the break­fast nook in the kitchen, where the walls are painted in Ev­ery­day White from Katie Lock­hart’s Ev­ery­day Needs x Drikolor range. OP­PO­SITE The cou­ple love shar­ing meals at their long, farm­house-style din­ing ta­ble by Restora­tion Hard­ware, with J104 chairs by Hay, but their daily com­mute doesn’t al­ways al­low time for week­night home cook­ing. In­stead, they get dishes de­liv­ered from whole­food café Sun­day Cantina, whose food is “beyond in­cred­i­ble. It makes the com­muter life so much bet­ter.” The din­ing room (and ad­join­ing liv­ing room) is painted in Ev­ery­day Needs colour Hold­away.

ABOVE LEFT This Aca­pulco rock­ing chair was one of the many pieces of fur­ni­ture the cou­ple bought on­line in the US be­fore they moved back. ABOVE RIGHT “Our book and mag­a­zine col­lec­tion brings us a lot of en­joy­ment, even if we haven’t read all the books,” says Tara. “Peo­ple of­ten give us quizzi­cal looks about the large num­ber of Lonely Planet guides for New York City we own.” OP­PO­SITE Can­vas, bam­boo and leather sa­fari chairs by We Do Wood cre­ate a con­ver­sa­tion zone in the liv­ing area with the cou­ple’s huge soft leather sofa by Hay, which they or­dered on­line from My Deco Shop and had shipped di­rectly to Waikanae. Tall, feath­ery pot­ted palms pro­vide vis­ual bal­ance.

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