plus inside our winner’s home
Rachyl Abraham shares the design secrets that led to her Interior of the Year success
Interior designer Rachyl Abraham doesn’t follow the crowd. “If you just follow the latest trends, everything ends up looking the same,” says Rachyl, whose originality and sophisticated style in her own home saw her clean up at this year’s Interior of the Year awards – not only was she judged supreme winner (page 58), but she was a finalist in two other categories.
She’s always on the lookout for that one intriguing item that will turn a beautiful room into a remarkable one. “I’m forever popping in and out of antiques stores and furniture and fabric showrooms,” she says. “I love the hands-on aspect of my work.” If she can’t find the perfect piece, she might create it herself – she painted the large abstract painting that hangs in her hallway (on this page) and collaborated with her son to create a skate shoe clock for his bedroom wall (page 95). >
In her 14 years in the interior design business, Rachyl has designed plenty of homes for other people, but there’s no better showcase for her talents than the 150-year-old Mt Eden home she shares with her husband and three children.
Rachyl oversaw an end-to-end renovation of the villa, reorienting the living spaces towards the sweeping westward views and adding a third storey master suite.
Today the interior features a mix of vintage finds and designer splurges, with work by local artisans meeting big-hitting names from the design world. Rachyl herself has designed paint colours, cabinetry and furniture. The result is light yet layered luxury with touches of whimsy.
So how exactly should we transform a nice looking room into an exceptional one? “Don’t buy everything at once,” she advises. “And buy well. This makes spaces more interesting and things layer up better.” >
Rachyl gained her design qualifications at London’s Chelsea College of Arts, then returned to New Zealand and started a children’s furniture business.
Customers who visited her showroom suggested that she should move into interior design. Feeling that demand was growing for interior design services and that it was now a viable career, she sold the business. She tried working in-house at an architectural practice at first, but found that collaborating with both the clients and architects suited her better. “I am interested in the people who are going to live in the home,” she says. “Who they are and what they love.” Now she has a handful of regular clients that she works with under the name Tesori Design.
“I love the business but I don’t want to grow too big,” Rachyl says. “It’s better for me to be out sourcing, discovering combinations of things and meeting interesting people. That’s why I do what I do.”
THIS PAGE A figure by local sculptor Ramon Robertson welcomes visitors to the entryway at the Abraham family’s Mt Eden, Auckland home.
OPPOSITE The villa has a 3.5m high stud; Rachyl painted the artwork on the left herself and had it framed in gold; Marcel Wanders Skygarden pendants line the hallway; wide French oak floorboards were given a light limewash and are laid in a herringbone pattern, reminiscent of the European architecture Rachyl admires.
THIS PAGE (clockwise from top left) The house is designed to see the family through the children’s teenage years: Rachyl and son Dan, 11, collaborated on the clock, which features Kartell arms and his favourite skateboarding shoes. Rachyl in the dressing room of the master suite. A La Palma cushion designed by Catherine Martin for Mokum sits on a pink chair.
OPPOSITE (clockwise from top left) Charlotte, 16, and Gabby, 14, share an en suite that has Élitis wallcovering. Gabby’s room is pink and grey. Charlotte’s room is lilac, white and silver. Dan’s en suite bathroom tiles are from Tile Space.
THIS PAGE (clockwise from top left) Rachyl designed the gardens herself: “My mum’s a keen gardener so I’ve learned lots from her and I keep up with what’s happening with landscape design;” Stephanotis floribunda grows up the side of the house; a bronze hoop sculpture was imported from overseas. The wraparound covered deck has huge views, and furniture from Design Warehouse. The 1444sqm grounds are unusually generous for a property so close to Mt Eden village; the pool house was used as a music studio by previous owner Eddie Rayner from Split Enz.