Colour and cre­ativ­ity flour­ish in Ge­orge He­witt’s fam­ily home, in­spir­ing her daugh­ter’s cov­eted fash­ion la­bel, Mag­gie Mar­i­lyn.


Ge­orge He­witt’s Herne Bay haven re­veals the cre­ative flair that in­spired her daugh­ter’s thriv­ing Mag­gie Mar­i­lyn la­bel

From the pol­ished an­tique gold mir­rors to the sil­ver 17th-cen­tury French can­de­labras, a vis­i­tor find­ing them­selves in the He­witts’ lounge would be for­given for think­ing they’d wan­dered into a sit­ting room in Europe. Turn­ing their gaze sky­wards, to a fresco orig­i­nally painted for the Duomo di Todi cathe­dral in the small hill­top town of Italy, they’d also be for­given for think­ing they were in heaven.

The ceil­ing scene, de­pict­ing the Univer­sal Judg­ment by 16th­cen­tury painter Fer­raù Faen­zone, has been vividly cap­tured as wall­pa­per for the mod­ern day by Rebel Walls – they’ve called it A Pri­ori. In this Herne Bay, Auck­land, home sur­rounded by flow­ers – where even the street verge has been planted with roses – it’s a re­minder to take a moment and ap­pre­ci­ate the finer things in life.

Ge­orge and Mark He­witt pur­chased the her­itage villa four years ago when they moved from Kerik­eri, where they own a sawmill, to Auck­land with their four daugh­ters – Mag­gie (23), Sarah (18), Kate (17) and Coco (13) – plus three res­cue pups. Far from crowded, the two-storey home has six bed­rooms and six bath­rooms.

The dec­o­ra­tor of the home, Ge­orge has in­tro­duced de­light and sur­prise in ev­ery cor­ner and on ev­ery sur­face, with an eclec­tic mix of per­son­al­ity-packed homeware and vi­brant art. When it comes to in­te­ri­ors, she says she loves all aes­thet­ics.

“I love old and mod­ern and quirky, mixed together. I don’t like one par­tic­u­lar style.”

To be­gin, a po­lite horse greets guests at the front door. Hold­ing a lamp on its head, the steed has been cap­tured in life-size pro­por­tions in PVC lam­i­nate by Moooi. Stand­ing next to him, the ec­cen­tric fur­ni­ture brand’s burnt wooden arm­chairs are an­other hint that call­ers are in for a treat as they fol­low a fuch­sia-pink floor run­ner fur­ther into the home.

Lead­ing past the mas­ter bed­room to the right and a study with strik­ing monochro­matic striped wall­pa­per to the left, fol­lowed by the afore­men­tioned lux­u­ri­ous lounge, the nar­row Cronz car­pet comes to an end at the open-plan kitchen and liv­ing room. While the kitchen re­cedes as a calm­ing, func­tional, all-white workspace, the seat­ing area is filled with eye-catch­ing good­ies, from Kartell’s gold lamps and vases to De­sign­ers’ Col­lec­tion’s jet black arm­chairs. “It’s beau­ti­ful, I think, that some­one can make some­thing that’s old but mod­ern,” says Ge­orge, about the vin­tagein­spired fur­nish­ings.

Down­stairs the cor­ri­dor winds around her daugh­ters’ bed­rooms as well as a cinema room, laun­dry and a walk-in wardrobe. Each bed­room has found its own char­ac­ter through styling, from a laugh­ing and tat­tooed Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe frozen in a golden frame in one room, to the By­ronic-in­spired crys­tal Schon­bek chan­de­liers from ECC above most beds. Each room also has a makeup sta­tion ei­ther in the room or nearby in an en­suite.

The bath­rooms are tran­quil spa­ces where slick, large mar­ble slabs from SCE Stone are soft­ened with plush sheep­skin rugs in pink or white. One bath­room boasts a flo­ral Chris­tian Lacroix wall­pa­per, and all have cus­tom-built cab­i­netry by Doug Kemp from the an­tiques sup­plier John Stephens & Co.

The large walk-in wardrobe, beau­ti­fully or­gan­ised over two small rooms and filled with colour­ful clothes and ac­ces­sories, is in hot de­mand by Ge­orge’s daugh­ters. “I do feel like there’s a bit of clothes-steal­ing around here. We’re all the same shoe size. It’s re­ally dan­ger­ous,” de­clares one.

Luck­ily, they can all be dressed by the oldest daugh­ter, who is the founder of Mag­gie Mar­i­lyn – a cov­eted, lo­cally made cloth­ing la­bel that is cre­at­ing hype in the es­teemed fash­ion de­part­ments of Neiman Mar­cus and Sel­fridges abroad, as well as The Shel­ter and David Jones closer to home. Mag­gie has tem­po­rar­ily moved back to her par­ents’ home while she finds a place of her own, and she con­tin­ues to be in­spired by her mother’s skill in in­te­ri­ors, es­pe­cially her bright and bold colour pal­ette.

“Mum’s al­ways been re­ally cre­ative and I can see her eclec­tic and colour­ful style within how I de­sign,” says the de­signer. “For us, we get en­ergy from colour. She has had an in­flu­ence for sure.”

Ge­orge says Mag­gie is an in­spi­ra­tion to her in turn. “Mag­gie’s just such a de­ter­mined, driven, hard worker that it does in­spire me. I love watch­ing her,” she says. “She’s so pas­sion­ate about do­ing the right thing. She tries to be as eth­i­cal as she pos­si­bly can be.”

Ge­orge brings her own dex­ter­ity to dec­o­ra­tion. While ev­ery­thing seems to be po­si­tioned just so, the mother-of-four is, in fact, con­stantly mov­ing her be­long­ings around, so much so she bought her own fur­ni­ture mover. “I’m a se­rial changer. I’m ob­sessed. Some days I just wake up and I’m like, ‘Right!’, and I lit­er­ally drag things up and down stairs. I’ll go to any length you can imag­ine. I just heave and ho. Be­cause I love it. When you’re cre­ative you want to change things up.”

Most of the art in the villa is by artists from the fam­ily’s home town of Kerik­eri, in­clud­ing a ze­bra paint­ing by He­len Jean and a colour­ful pop art-in­spired paint­ing by Candy Clarke. But some­times, when she just can’t find quite the right shades to in­cor­po­rate into a room, Ge­orge will take mat­ters into her own hands. “Of­ten I think, ‘I need some­thing colour­ful here’, but I don’t know where to get it, so I go to the hard­ware store, get some paint and just start pour­ing it, lit­er­ally pour­ing it on the can­vas.” The re­sult­ing art­works are alive with vi­brant and playful tex­ture.

The other place Ge­orge loves to cu­rate is the gar­den, in­clud­ing the pa­tio out the front and the two-tiered lawn, en­ter­tain­ing and pool area at the back, the lat­ter of which is still a work in progress. Both have whim­si­cally planted flow­ers or­dered by box hedg­ing in an English-gar­den style.

“I wanted the gar­den to be struc­tured but chaotic within the struc­ture. I’m one of those old-fash­ioned gar­den­ers so I love brightly coloured cot­tage gar­dens – just ev­ery type of rose and peren­ni­als and an­nu­als,” says the con­stant gar­dener. “I am very pas­sion­ate about it. If I’m feel­ing a bit stressed that’s how I lose my­self.”

Ge­orge also grows roses by the let­ter­box on the street to give passers-by a pleas­ant sur­prise, and she is of­ten sur­prised her­self by notes of ap­pre­ci­a­tion left by the neigh­bours. “They can’t wait to see what colour rose will come out.”

As home to the fam­ily of six, the Auck­land villa’s glossy black front door is con­stantly be­ing opened for friends and ex­tended fam­ily mem­bers pop­ping by. “It’s re­ally fun hav­ing a big fam­ily but, man, it’s full-on. I al­ways feel sorry for the new boyfriends that come over. They must just be like, ‘wow’,” laughs Mag­gie.

The fam­ily are close and they en­joy spend­ing time with one an­other at home, prefer­ably over a cheese­board and Cham­pagne poured into Ge­orge’s 1930s pros­ecco glasses – “They’re great to drink Cham­pagne together,” she says.

Next on Ge­orge’s to-do list is more dec­o­rat­ing and ren­o­vat­ing – there are bath­rooms that need to be done again, wall­pa­per and cur­tains to re­place and a pool house to be built around a re­con­fig­ured pool and spa in the lower gar­den.

Ge­orge keeps her­self on her toes – she’s also ren­o­vat­ing an im­pres­sive prop­erty on Kerik­eri’s wa­ter’s edge into an Hamp­ton­sin­spired home. Watch this space. ■

THIS PAGE AND OP­PO­SITE Each of the six bed­rooms has a unique touch, and most have a crys­tal Schon­bek chan­de­lier from ECC. The six bath­rooms fea­ture Perrin & Rowe tap­ware from In Res­i­dence and an SCE Stone fin­ish.

The out­door fur­ni­ture in Ge­orge’s cher­ished Englishin­spired gar­den is from Art­wood. BE­LOW The grand lean­ing mirror is from Le Monde Home. Hair & makeup: Seren­ity Makeup.

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