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Out with perfection

Have you ever swooped in with a coaster, just in the nick of time before your guest puts a coffee cup down on your – eeeek – shiny new coffee table? Relax, and put your feet up – it doesn’t matter so much anymore.



Perfection in the home is out of vogue for 2020. After all, we are now being less wasteful and slowing our unsustainable consumer appetite.

Invest in quality and hang on to those timeless treasures – no matter their age spots.

Unravelled threads of a hand-crafted throw, artwork with a chunk missing or a brazen watermark, a brass fireside piece with a little harmless rust – it all adds to the charm!

Use your imagination and creativity. A case in point: a time-faded pale blue carpet that’s seen better days.

Take a look at the floaty frescos of the Italian paintings – there’s a similarity in the ethereal wish-wash of subtle shade.

Instead of replacing the carpet, work with it – and play up the Latin romance.

Patina is the new perfect. Just think of a time-stencilled, olde worlde tabletop, buffed in French polish to show off its battle scars.

Our modern pieces can equally enjoy the same freedom.

From wallpaper to wall units, you can also buy what will age well anyway and function throughout the tumbles of family life – sticky-pawed infants, bull-in-a-china-shop teenagers and cats who see couches as claw-sharpening stations.

A quality leather lounge suite, for example, can take a lot of battering and will look beautiful for generations, aging like a fine wine – and won’t be harmed by a glass or two being spilled on it either.

Tip-toeing around the edges of a precious new rug defeats its purpose.

Our abodes are for living in – really living. Visitors enjoy a place where they can feel at home – not just admire.

Wear and tear is also a memory diary in a way. If the gouge on the sideboard reminds you of a rollicking New Year’s Eve party, then surely that must be a good thing!


For the love of lagom

We’ve mastered how to hygge our home, by creating a serene and clutter-free space, it’s now time to learn to lagom. While the words appear to be a scramble of Scandinavian slang, beneath the surface lies very interesting inspirations for decorating your home.



While there is no direct translation from Swedish to English, it roughly means ‘not too much and not too little – just right’.

This way of thinking is a great idea to channel when you’re decorating your home this summer.

Niki Brantmark could be classed as the queen of lagom with her book, Lagom: Not Too Little, Not Too Much: The Swedish Art of Living a Balanced, Happy Life, that started it all.

She gives eight basic tips to lagom.

  1. De-clutter – this speaks for itself.
  2. Bring in nature – there should be a balance between the home and the environment around it. If you live by the sea, seashells or pebbles are a nice way to incorporate this.
  3. Use muted colours – Swedish homes like to keep it simple with very organic and muted tones.
  4. Try textures – experimenting with throws, rugs and other textures is a great eye-catching addition to your home.
  5. Incorporate plants – low maintenance ones are great.
  6. Pay attention to lighting – utilise that natural light!
  7. Go vintage – creates a comfy and cosy feel.
  8. Keep it pristine – carpet is hard to clean, so get rid of it altogether.

Design defying gravity

One of the coolest bathroom trends of 2020 is floating vanities. Ideal for smaller bathrooms, they can create an illusion of size and space.


Double floating vanities are a practical way to free up floor area.

Because of their clean, minimalistic look, you can update and transform your space without compromising the overall interior design.

A beach-house bathroom, for example, morphs from tired and drab into something sleek and edgy.

Patterned tiles and handsome hardware paired with a white floating vanity bring a timeless elegance, while textured finishes or grained woods make for a visually stunning statement.

Restrict the colour palette alongside floating vanities to two to three colours and cut the clutter – less is, after all, more.

From rustic to modern, floating vanities add pizazz to your bathroom and make cleaning a breeze. What’s not to love?


Make your home smarter

New Zealand made smart home system, ECONX, is an easy-to-use app from an innovative Kiwi success story, according to happy local customers.



Providing reliable security and automation in a simple, affordable and convenient manner directly from your phone, ECONX connects everything from security, doors, heating and lighting, so you can control them from anywhere in the world.

With first-hand experience of the system, Christchurch customers Tim and Catherine Talbot describe ECONX as good value for money, and “so easy to use”.

You can set it up on your computer then forget about it! You control it with the app and you can easily make adjustments to suit changing requirements.

Plus, you’re able to give access to people through the app when no one’s around, and keep a log of entries and exits.”

Catherine says installing ECONX was one of the first features they decided to include when building a new home.

They both rate it as the easiest way to control heat pumps and the integrated alarm system also includes smoke detectors.

“We’ve noticed cost savings, as all the towel rails and underfloor heating are all on timers so you can make use of off-peak power.

You even have the power to turn the lights on before you get home.”

They’re just so easy to do business with, Catherine says.

“Anthony always has time for you, no matter the simplicity of your questions, and wrestles with any challenges until they’re resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.

“ECONX always includes your thoughts and input into the ongoing development of the product.”


Fabulous Finishing

Understanding colour, having good taste, and knowing how to select individual elements to create a beautiful and inviting whole is not something that can be taught. It comes from the heart, it is innate and, combined with attention to detail plus a natural empathy with clients, it leads to an interior design house of the calibre of Christchurch’s own Kit and Caboodle.



At the studio, Alex Marie and Andrea Tudehope have created a temple of gorgeous fabric, furniture and finishing touches that are just a tempting hint of the luscious comfort that they can create for your home.

Inspired by the great designers, Alex and Andrea follow the William Morris ethic – that you should not have anything in your home that you do not believe to be beautiful or useful.

European designers such as David Hicks, Robert Couturier, Colefax and Fowler, and more latterly the Americans such as Albert Hadley and Daniel Romualdez have shaped their approach.

Distilling the giants of interior design and adding their own flair has created an ethos of comfort and soul at Kit and Caboodle, which means they are well on their way to becoming one of the ‘greats’ themselves.

While never trend-driven, “it does follow that fashion in clothing design filters down to influence things that are happening in interior design,” Andrea says.

For them it’s about layering to get a beautiful room to come together.

“A beautiful room must be personal; it must never look like a ‘stage set’ and we would never fit out entirely in one brand,” Alex says.

“Not everyone gets everything new,” Andrea says. “We often work from at least one existing item that is staying in the room, such as a work of art or a sofa.”

If they are working with a blank canvas, they start with floor, walls, and curtains.

“We begin with the most expensive items and then it is about layering to create the intimate and comfortable style of life, with accents or surprises to stimulate the senses,” Alex explains.

Freshening up antique or classical style furniture with contemporary fabrics or with bright colours is a passion, and this is a delicious task to undertake with clients given the huge range of fabrics available.

New Zealand agents for the stunning range from Melbourne, Nine Muses Textiles, the gorgeous fabrics are suitable for all furnishings including upholstery, curtains, lampshades and cushions.

Printed onto Libeco Belgian Linens using digital technology, artist and director of Nine Muses Tigger Hall has hand-painted every design, bringing the imperfections and colour variations, while keeping the aesthetic and beautiful feel of traditional textile processes.

“There is something for everyone, modern and contemporary colour juxtapositions through to traditional colour palettes,” Alex says.

“The range feels fresh and clean, and we’ve done some lovely projects with it over the years,” Andrea adds.


Illustrious HOTY winners

Celebrating building excellence in New Zealand, the prestigious Registered Master Builders House of the Year competition awards the best homes, builders and craftsmen across our country for 2019.




Supreme House of the Year and Craftmanship Award
First-time competition entrant Spearhead Developments of Central Otago took the top award for their work on the Hawk House.

The new build also took out the Craftmanship and CARTERS $1-1.5 million New Home awards.

Judges acknowledged this home to be a technical challenge in every respect.

“The Hawk House is an architectural masterpiece that sits high in the hills between Cromwell and Wanaka.

Mimicking native hawks, the unique form and use of natural material has created an incredible home that peacefully nestles into its stunning surrounding landscape.

“This is no ordinary bach. It is a home that surprises you at every turn”, says the 2019 judges.

Renovation up to $500K
TMT Construction for a home in Strowan, Christchurch

Supreme Renovation of the Year Award
Spice Build has won the Supreme Renovation Award with the restoration of a historic 135-year-old church in Petone, Wellington.

The property was also runner-up for the Craftsmanship Award.

Judges said the renovation “demonstrated a vision that is nothing short of exceptional.

“The build process saw a fantastic collaboration between the owner and builder, with a result that can only be described as a masterpiece. It has perfectly retained the original character of the building, all while breathing new life into it with a stunning apartment conversion”.

Special Award
The Special Award category was introduced last year to recognise outstanding projects or build elements.

Highly worthy of this accolade, Urban Homes claimed this award for its home in Kaipaki, Cambridge.

Tasked to create a home reminiscent of a DOC hut, hidden away on an idyllic riverside site, the judges said, “The unassuming yet sophisticated home has managed to blend its beauty appropriately with the neighbouring natural environment.

“Both the consideration given to this project and the owners’ dedication to preserving the natural beauty of this site are absolutely commendable, and makes this home strongly deserving of this Special Award.”

An additional 15 categories and four lifestyle awards were also announced and Registered Master Builders Chief Executive David Kelly says the organisation is proud to showcase the best of New Zealand residential buildings.

“As the building boom continues, we must ensure our focus is on building quality homes, quickly and efficiently across all price brackets,” he says.

“As New Zealand’s leaders in residential building, it is exciting to see innovative approaches coming through in the homes showcased at this year’s awards.

This competition sets the standard of what is possible and is an inspiration to others across the sector.”

The awards are made possible through the support of PlaceMakers, Master Build 10-Year Guarantee, GIB, CARTERS, Plumbing World, Altus Window Systems, Resene and Bunnings Warehouse.

For more information about the competition, visit the HOTY website.


Organising your house for Christmas

Having a home that is well-prepared for Christmas partying is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. Something you have forgotten to do, buy or organise can easily chomp away at your sanity.


So we’ve put together some fail-safe tips to get you through the silly season.

Prepare the festivities

It’s time to free up the freezer and make space for those holiday goodies. Pack in plenty of party ice. Stock up on artisan canapés and satiating savouries to pop in the oven for hungry

Pre-freeze what Christmas fare you can. Christmas-coloured frozen berries make instant smoothies, sorbets, desserts, and cool off a glass of bubbly fast. 

Borrow or buy a handy bar fridge. Fill up the pantry with extra food – it is better to have unperishable surplus than to run out. Ensure your herb garden is abundant.

Snap up the home baking with Christmas bows from the farmers markets and fairs. These Christmas treats can double up as last minute gifts for surprise visitors, or someone you’ve forgotten.

Thoughtfully have the likes of gluten free, vegan and low-carb supplies on hand. Bowls of cherries top the list!

Double up

Rolls of cellotape; slippery little things… they go missing just when you’re wrapping that extra parcel – so plant some around the house.

The same goes for scissors, gift tags, bows, pens and other such items that grow legs and play hide and seek.

Make sure you know where the spare sets of keys are hidden. The silly season rush catches up with the most organised among us – and Murphy’s Law often rules.

There’s just no time to hunt. Have extras – like batteries, cell phone chargers, top-up medication, bottled water, or any essentials that you often run out of, or misplace – on hand.

Last minute dashes to the store battling the queues, only interferes with the tick tock of the to-do list.


Post-it notes – they can blend in with the Christmas decorations quite easily, especially if you choose the creative variety.

No amount of technology can replace these bright, cheery, in-your-face reminders, especially when our holiday brains are jumping around like reindeers.

Keep lists on your phone, on the fridge, beside the bed, anywhere. Just be sure to check them twice!

Fun-filled festivities

Drag out any fun-filled activities, games and silly season Christmas-themed anything. ‘Tis the season for lights, bells and whistles of a frivolous, festive nature.

Dedicate an area of the home for crazy chaos, and forget the vacuuming here. Remember the playful pets too – or your decorations may be toast.

Take stock

Are there enough glasses, crockery, water jugs and other utensils for an extended family visit?

Invest in plenty of festive serviettes – they add to the occasion as well as save on washing up for that nibble or slice of cake.

Wine glass tags are a savvy additional to banish that ‘is this glass mine?’ mix-up for good.

Savvy seating

Organise extra seating for the dining table or lounge if you need to, and be prepared for indoors and outdoors.

There might be a few spills among the thrills, so enrobe the new couch with a colourful throw.

Make more room for gatherings, and store away any extraneous items that clutter the festive home, or block the runway for excited little elves.

Health and safety

As the party season sizzles, so does the summer heat. Give the pets extra large bowls for their water.

Remove any fire hazards from the property, such as trimming trees away from the house. Check the first-aid kit and have extra suntan lotion on hand.

Double check the wiring on last season’s fairy lights.

The more organised the home is for Christmas, the extra warmth it will exude – and it will spell vamoose to any stressful vibes. Create an organised haven for relaxing merriment and there’ll be extra time to spend with those that are lonely during this joyful time.


Transform your kitchen: Aspiring Kitchens

Like most great ideas, Aspiring Kitchens & More grew through hands-on experience and creative thinking.



Managing Director John Harris ran a successful building and property maintenance company for 10 years, installing kitchens and bathrooms across the UK.

John is a qualified electrician, plumber and construction project manager; all important skills to progress your project smoothly from concept to completion. Recognising the demand for exciting, innovative and design-driven ways to update your home, John, along with his wife Hazel, established a thriving kitchen company in Wellington.

With their relocation to Christchurch, their son Chris has now joined the company, bringing his own fresh new skills, innovation and creativity to the team.

Aspiring Kitchens offers great options to transform your kitchen. Their ‘Kitchen Refresh’, where they keep your existing cabinets and replace the doors, drawer-faces and décor panels, saves you time, disruption and dollars. You can get a brand-new kitchen look within a day or two, keeping it functional throughout.

The ‘Kitchen Remodel’ option offers all of the above, plus you can add more storage or improved functionality and they’ll fabricate and fit new, custom-made cabinets.

New kitchen? Not a problem. The team will listen to your ideas, work closely with you and design a stunning new kitchen on cutting-edge 3D VR photo-realistic software, with all the cabinetry fabricated in New Zealand and professionally project-managed and fitted with care.

New benchtops, laundries, home offices and built-in furniture are all also catered for. Pop into the beautiful showroom and meet the friendly team at 2/7 Halswell Road, or phone 0800 202 171 for a free consultation.




Preserving precious art: City Art Depot

For 30 years, City Art Depot picture framing workshop and gallery has been working alongside art lovers to preserve and beautifully display works of art.




Starting out as a small picture framing business in 1989, founder David Trerise had a goal to apply museum standards in his workshop.

Moving away from out-dated gluing and trimming techniques, he researched conservation framing practices, and introduced materials and processes designed to protect artworks from environmental hazards and inappropriate framing processes.

“A lot of our work is preserving artworks that are valued for purely sentimental reasons,” David says. “It still deserves to be treated with the care and respect the artist intended, or the owner desires, so it can be enjoyed by future generations.”

City Art Depot makes its own frames on the premises from rough-sawn timber to provide a frame made and hand-finished to best suit the needs of the artwork and the client. This commitment to quality has seen the business grow, attracting a client base that includes museums, galleries, institutions, businesses and private art owners and collectors.

The business offers practical solutions for the framing, installation, transportation and storage of artworks. Its archival Solander boxes provide an elegant and robust storage system for photographs, rare books, objects and original works of art.

City Art Depot also has a well-respected gallery. “The gallery is very important for us. There’s a renewed energy around art in the city and it allows us to introduce people to the work of emerging, as well as established, artists.”




Soak your worries away: Degree43

Hot tub therapy is ancient, used for centuries to relax muscles, relieve stress and experience the renewal effect of immersing yourself in warm water. Canterbury’s own Degree43 brings the future of hot tubbing to you with its stylish, environmentally friendly, and bach-to-bush innovation, beautifully finished in stainless steel and cedar.




This local, top-end and forward-thinking hot tub design is also surprisingly affordable. Whether socialising in your backyard or space-gazing in the back of beyond, your quality of life index just took a giant leap forward.

Hands-on Directors Marty Long and Dwayne Dunn came up with the clever design that uses around 400 litres less water than traditional hot tubs, making the hot tubs easy to heat and energy efficient. The high quality 304 moulded stainless-steel means hygiene – no opportunity for bacterial nasties to make themselves at home as in a wooden or plastic hot tub. Even better, the hot tubs use completely fresh water. There is no purchase and use of harsh chemicals, simply recycle the water onto the garden (or forest floor) every few days, or add the UV kit which keeps the water sparkling clean.

Choose from two heating options: a heat pump from Christchurch’s Warmth New Zealand that uses the same technology as underfloor heating, costing just $3.20 to heat from cold, and genuinely less than $1 per day to maintain heat; or the take-it-anywhere, state of the art, in-tub wood fired heating. Just a small wheelbarrow load of wood heats 1600 litres of water in less than two hours. The tubs are available in three sizes or custom-made, and the 20-year warranty with minimal maintenance required makes the hot tubs a no-brainer in value for money.

Degree43 is 100 percent Canterbury owned and operated, and all the materials used in the hot tubs are locally sourced and fabricated. The hot tubs come with a fully insulated lockable cover from The Cover Guy in Auckland, which has a three-year warranty.

Meeting at age 16 on their first trade course, Marty and Dwayne together founded Degree43 tubs, working in fine and technical stainless-steel fabrication with a focus on innovation. The hot tubs are their first step into the leisure market, and having worked so hard to perfect the product, the Degree43 strapline ‘relax, you deserve it’ could apply to them.

“We love the hot tubs; they’ve become a real passion project for us and we are proud to offer the 20-year warranty for the stainless steel – you won’t find longer,” says Marty. Degree43 will deliver wherever, and are very happy to discuss finance options. As well as selling directly, you’ll find Marty and Dwayne and the hot tubs at agricultural and trade shows around the country. “It’s so rewarding to use our skill base to provide a product this good, that brings therapeutic relaxation to hard working people,” Dwayne says.