Alice McKinley runs Kin, a marketing and events business in Napier.
My parents have owned this house since my oldest brother was born – 35 years. I’m 30 so obviously I’ve been away travelling since then and living in Auckland, but before that I lived in this house my whole life. It’s the oldest house in the area, the very first one built back in the 1800s. We’ve got massive 200-year-old trees out the back because it used to be an orchard. It’s a really special place.
People are always offering to buy this house and Mum and Dad just can’t do it. They’ve looked at so many other beautiful houses and almost moved out lots of times, but have never been able to bring themselves to sell. They can’t part with it.
My dad’s a vet so we had lots of really weird animals running around the backyard when I was growing up. We’ve had a horse, a baby ostrich, lambs, exotic birds, everything. And when you look at the backyard it’s not like it’s a farm, it’s a normal backyard. It was so weird.
I grew up very musical. When I was 4, I begged my parents for a piano and I got it when I turned 5 because they knew I wasn’t going to shut up about it. Naturally, they wanted to get one that was going to fit in with the rest of the house, so they bought this beautiful antique one. Sadly if you tried to sell it now you wouldn’t get much for it, but back then they paid a truckload for it just because they wanted it to fit in with this room. I love this room so much, it’s rich and beautiful with these deep colours. There’s a lot of nostalgia for me here.
I used to rope the neighbours and my cousins into doing these little performances with me in here, and I’d try and choreograph shows like The Lion King. That was probably our most organised one because we all made masks. We’ve got it on a video somewhere, it was so terrible that it was cute.
My parents are going to hold onto the piano until I buy a house. The house I’m looking at buying now has a lot of character, like this place. I don’t think I could live in a house now that didn’t have lots of character, after growing up here.
I have just moved half an hour away from this house now but I still play the piano and sing for my parents whenever I visit. Les Mis is coming here soon and I’m going to audition for that. I’ve been in the show before but this time I’m going to go for the part of Fantine.
See more images from this room at Homed, the new home of ideas on Stuff.