Fur­ni­ture tips

What to con­sider be­fore you furnish.

“The only rule I hold to is buy once, buy well,” says Guy Tar­rant.

“Con­sider clas­sic sofa shapes that are com­fort­able,” says Jan­ice Ku­mar-Ward. “And stun­ning chairs in pairs. Any­thing in a pair looks great.”

Don’t fill your home with fur­ni­ture and lighting from one pe­riod or one de­signer, says Brid­get Fo­ley. “It will end up look­ing like a show­room. Mix an­tiques with mod­ern for a time­less look.”

“Never be­lieve that one won­der­ful, ex­pen­sive piece of fur­ni­ture will make a room,” ad­vises Christchurch artist and stylist Alexandra We­ston.


A room full of books may be the best de­sign clas­sic ever.

“A favourite is the huge book­case in my kitchen,” says Brid­get Fo­ley (whose own built-in book­case is pic­tured above). “Great book­cases filled to the brim.”


De­signs from the 50s and 60s, like the Eames Lounge Chair (bot­tom right), are al­ways cov­etable.

“I love mid-cen­tury stuff,” says In­grid Geldof. “The home I was brought up in was a clas­sic deco house and full of 1950s fur­ni­ture my Euro­pean par­ents had bought. I still have some of these pieces.” Vic Bibby says a sofa with sim­ple, clean lines is likely to stand the test of time. “The iconic Florence Knoll sofa is a great ex­am­ple of a de­sign that will work in most set­tings and looks as good in a con­tem­po­rary set­ting as it did in the 50s. Stick with a solid neu­tral colour and bring pat­tern in with cush­ions or an oc­ca­sional chair.” Char­lotte Minty ap­pre­ci­ates retro fur­ni­ture too: “The Thonet B9 chair in black with tim­ber socks is a firm favourite in my house­hold. I’ve ad­mired the de­sign of this chair since my stu­dent days. Its engi­neer­ing and el­e­gant lines give it pres­ence in any room.” Guy Tar­rant: “One of my favourite ar­chi­tects is Al­var Aalto, who also de­signed a lot of beau­ti­ful, yet very sim­ple, fur­ni­ture (left). I don’t think you can go wrong with some of his pieces in your home.”


Beau­ti­fully made pieces from yes­ter­year never lose their appeal.

“Adding an­tique fur­ni­ture that you’ve dis­cov­ered or has been passed down to you, and worldly ac­cents you’ve picked up on trav­els, will cre­ate a more in­ter­est­ing, less trend-driven look,” says Vic Bibby. “Mix­ing them with mod­ern pieces gives a space a con­tem­po­rary vibe. One of my favourite pieces in our own home is an an­tique bridge table (pic­tured above) that be­longed to my grand­mother. It’s very sen­ti­men­tal to me. I hope to pass it on to one of my chil­dren one day.”

Amy Ten­nent is also keen on an­tiques: “Beau­ti­ful old wooden pieces of fur­ni­ture that I have col­lected over time. I am a big fan of tan leather and wood.”

“My favourite item would have to be our oak ex­ten­sion oval din­ing table bought on Trade Me 10 years ago,” says Jan­ice Ku­mar-Ward. “It seats 12 to 15 at Christ­mas but us four in a com­pact way through­out the year. It’s a clas­sic that I hope we will have for years to come.”

Ge­orgina Skin­ner of Prints by Ge­orge loves an­tiques. “Sec­ond-hand shops have a bet­ter price point and there are of­ten items that have been loved for years and now have nowhere to go. They are state­ment pieces; keep things sim­ple and el­e­gant to let the an­tiques shine.” >

‘The only rule I hold to is buy once, buy well’

– Guy Tar­rant, ar­chi­tect

THIS PAGE Mix up fur­ni­ture styles for a lay­ered feel says in­te­rior de­signer Brid­get Fo­ley.OP­PO­SITE (bot­tom left) The bent­wood Paimio chair by Al­var Aalto $6302 from Thonet, thonet.co.nz.

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