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Smarten up your home: Econx

A safe, secure, energy-efficient home; many of us instinctively know such qualities are desirable, but how many of us make conscious efforts to achieve these conditions?



Own up if you put your heat pump on and leave it on, have trouble with your heating controls, or if you don’t turn off lights and then exclaim at your huge power bill. You certainly won’t be the only one.

However, a very smart system can help you out. Econx is a New Zealand-made smart home security and automation system that you can control from your smartphone – from anywhere, at any time. By way of one easy to use app set up for you by the company’s technicians when you install the system, you can have full control and management of your security and of your energy consumption.

How does it work? Each element of your home’s security or heating is listed in the app – everything from your hot water cylinder, underfloor heating and heat pump to your gate, garage door and outside lighting – as many security or home features as you like. There will be times assigned to each of these elements as to when you wish them to turn on or off.

It’s that simple and all you need for your secure and energy efficient home are four things – a small control hub, the internet, a smartphone and the Econx app. If you are used to internet banking, you will find this system a breeze.

Typical starter packages cost $3,999 installed, plus a yearly subscription of $92 for all software upgrades. Phone 0800 123 312.



The Investigative Experts: The Property Detectives

With a combined 40 years’ experience in all areas of the construction industry, the team at The Property Detectives say it is “really” hard to pull the wool over their eyes when it comes to building.



The local company specialises in all property and building inspections, from pre-sale and pre-purchase to rental WOFs, as well as plumbing and drainage inspections. After working right through the Canterbury quakes, the staff, who are all current LBP builders, have extensive knowledge in the areas of EQC repairs.

After becoming alarmed at the state of some homes following the earthquakes and not wanting those problems being passed on to the next buyer, they began working to find and remedy issues that have, or could have, arisen from improper repairs or non-compliant works.

By utilising a range of high-tech systems, such as a thermal imaging device and underfloor critter camera, The Property Detectives can find hidden faults and detect leaks, and their drones can reach even the highest roof. Offering standard, advanced, and specialist inspections, as well as the rental service, The Property Detectives’ team is dedicated to providing accurate, unbiased reports and work alongside homeowners, councils and engineers to get the job done.

To make a booking, visit



Matte Black Rules

It’s pretty much a given that the top spot in the neutral colour system has always being held by black. Lily Langtry, Victorian actress and muse of Oscar Wilde, knew that. When her brother died, she donned black, as was customary, but realising it made her look even more beautiful, Lily refused to stop wearing it.



Black is king because alongside its compatibility with just about every shade on the colour spectrum, black is, and always will be, undeniably chic. That’s why we love it.

However, when it comes to home decoration and décor, we tend to shy away from black, worrying it might be a tad too gloomy and without warmth. But in reality, when it’s done right, black is stunning! How opportune, then, that for those with a desire to dabble with noir, your time is now; yes, the décor must-have colour this year is black – matte black.

For those hesitant to fully explore the darker side, try touches of it. For that upcoming dinner party, invest in a set of matte black cutlery, and place as your centrepiece a matte black candelabra with gold or red candles, then stand back and admire your work. Oh là là!

Now you’ve got your confidence, add in a cabinet, a coffee table or pair of feature chairs in matte black, then bring on your bold and brilliant splashes of colour. With dark matte paints now the rage, paint yourself a stunning feature wall then dress your backdrop as it deserves – an heirloom escritoire with an ormolu clock as the focal point, perhaps, or a sprawling rolled-arm sofa with a spectacular mirror above, and a statement standard lamp as your final touch of black magic.

For those yearning to venture deep into the matte blacks, here are a few helpful tips:

Mix it Up – no matter your black matte hue, it loves being paired with colour – think gem variations on ruby, sapphire, emerald, amethyst, amber, and definitely, a dash of diamond!

Work that Contrast Theme – repeat it on trimmings, photo and mirror frames, drapes and other soft furnishings.

Bring on the Texture – for ultimate sumptuousness, layer on the faux furs, fleeces, satins, silks, and plusher-than-plush velvets. Divine!

Mirror Magic – mirrors and matte are beautiful opposites – the larger and more ornate the better. This is the one time you certainly can, and should, gild the lily!

Don’t Forget the Greenery – a potted palm, a variety of ferns, an indoor hydrangea, or a few headily scented plants, such as gardenias, will make your matte haven heavenly.

There, haven’t you done well? Game, set and matte!



Lights Up!

Much like fashion, lighting trends often reflect on bygone eras. Here are some styles currently lighting up 2019.



Mid-century Modern reigned from the 1920s to 1970s. The atom-influenced Sputnik chandelier is a fine example of this style. Much in vogue from the 1950s onwards, it’s been updated through the decades, with finishes such as brushed nickel, brass and gold. It’s a perfect fit with contemporary and transitional décor.

Industrial and Retro are definitely here to stay, with traditional Industrial now sporting an alternative softer version, known as Modern Retro. Popular for kitchen work spaces, above dining areas or as wall lights, Modern Retro gives a unique twist and can even be considered as a statement art piece.

Vintage Victorian, as in Edison lightbulbs, just gets better and better! Available in both LED and incandescent form, this is soft retro at its best. An Edison chandelier, or row of Edison connected lights above your work space, will charm for years to come.

Rustic Modern is beautifully captured in the ED Ellen DeGeneres lighting collection. It is influenced by some of Ellen’s favourite, world-renowned artists and features signature details inspired by Ellen’s own treasured pieces throughout her homes.

For those not fussed on eras, but who love gentle illumination, Soft Gold, which imitates the soft matte finish of brushed silver and brushed gold, while focusing on the mellowness of gold, is for you. Illuminate your favourite cubby-hole with a soft gold lamp for an extra cosy glow.



The house with everything: DJ Hewitt Builders

Celebrating 25 years in business building outstanding houses, DJ Hewitt is thrilled to enter a superlative home in the 2019 Master Builders House of the Year regional competition in the category: House over $2 million. Having taking a sabbatical from House of the Year entries for almost a decade, this stunning entry brings DJ Hewitt to the forefront of competition once again.



Anchored into the hill high above McCormacks Bay, this is a house with everything: views for inspiration, volcanic rock for grounding, steel for strength, glass for insight and cladding in cedar wood for dreams. Its impeccable dimensions by O’Neil Architecture draw the gaze and hold it: the flat roof combined with the deep-set eaves, the geometric pattern of the black window framing, the snappy white surround to the second and third stories, volcanic rock cladding the ground floor and warm cedar above. It makes for a pleasing and harmonious whole: looking at this house could become addictive.

The stunning home was a 20-month build that saw the tight-knit team overcome all the challenges associated with the hill site, as well as everything that mother nature had to throw at them. For Director Daryl Hewitt, the whole project is a stand out, “for its placement on the site, its architectural merit, its design and flow, the materials used – all the boxes are ticked”.



At three stories it is an impressive home as you look up from the causeway and, once on site, the commanding 220-degree view takes you to another world. The panorama of the Kaikoura ranges around to the Heathcote Valley constantly feeds the soul with a palette of changing light and seasons. DJ Hewitt has been working with Fox Surveyors for years. “We always get them to set out our homes, they are professional and helpful,” Daryl says.

There are four forms of cladding on the house – cedar planking, adjustable steel louvres by LouvreTec, Rockcote, and the local volcanic stone which is continued into landscaping and retaining walls, specially laid to resemble the dry stonewalling technique of interlocking stones, any mortar used barely visible.



The double glazed and laminated aluminium framed windows from the Vantage Metro Series were manufactured and installed by Hagley Windows and Doors, while the spacious deck in Innowood, a sustainable alternative to timber, is protected from prevailing winds by Glassforce structural frameless balustrading held with spider brackets, which is also used for the full height of two levels up the stairway, to stunning effect.

The sleek interior feels band-box fresh in a neutral palette, with a luxurious range of textures chosen by the owners in conjunction with interior co-ordinator Tara Hewitt. A hotel-style lift to accommodate six is paired with the steel and glass staircase, an art installation in its own right. Systems within the house are all fully automated and can be controlled from a smart phone.



The wine cellar occupies the bottom level of the house along with a spacious storage area, accessed through a secret door. Engineered by Powell Fenwick, the house is set into the hillside and sits on a complex foundation of steel and concrete approaching commercial levels. “It is a very strong home,” Daryl says.

Happy owners of the house Russell and Mary love the whole thing. “We love the wine cellar, the stair well, the orientation and layout that takes full advantage of the view.” Russell was hands-on in the wine cellar design. “It is the ideal spot for a wine cellar – it is naturally cool down there but actually it is mainly a whisky display,” Russell says, “not because I am a particular whisky aficionado, it is more in homage to Scottish ancestry”.



Mary and Russell chose Daryl and his team to bring their vision to life because they had visited a DJ Hewitt show home “which stood out to us as so well designed and immaculately finished”. They had also got to know Daryl on the local dog-walking circuit, and of course were aware of DJ Hewitt’s unrivalled reputation as a specialist hill builder.

“It was wonderful to have the help of Tara Hewitt’s interior design skills as a part of the wrap-around, start to finish service we received,” Russell says. “It was Tara and Daryl’s idea to paint the ceiling black above the full-height void which contains our kitchen, living, dining and gallery. We are thrilled with how it looks, it’s just fantastic and Tara’s help with things like the wallpaper selections was invaluable.”



Mary and Russell lived on this site in a previous home so were well aware of its challenges and advantages, as well as where best to capture the views. “Both designer and builders’ attention to detail has been amazing, and we’ve become friends with the team; they are really great people.”

“Every house we build sticks in my mind – any house you have great clients, working closely to fulfil a dream,” Daryl says. However, this house is very special. Daryl particularly loves the lift – they are becoming more popular in private homes – as well as the full-height void with its signature black ceiling and the automated louvres on the walls and roof.



Specialist hill and architectural builders, new projects come to DJ Hewitt through word of mouth and architects’ request. “The truth is that houses don’t have to be large to be good. Often these days we are building more compact homes which follow the movement to being very thermally efficient, although all our homes have been insulated to above the code, ever since I’ve been in business.”

Constantly busy building dream homes with several architectural projects on the go at any given moment, DJ Hewitt found time to celebrate their 25 years of business with an awards night held at Hagley Windows and Doors with All Blacks motivational speaker Gilbert Enoka addressing attendees. Highly valued subtrades that have worked for DJ Hewitt for 25, 20, 15 or 10 years received appreciation awards.



“We are like a big family,” Daryl says. “Everyone knows what to do and we turn out fabulous homes for great clients.”



Islands in the sun

Kitchen islands are no longer an afterthought; rather they’ve become the mainstay of the contemporary Kiwi kitchen. We look at how to make the most of these modern kitchen must-haves.



  1. Put an unexpected twist on the classic kitchen island by choosing one with curved edges. This small difference allows for slightly more practicality – and safety, especially if you’ve got littlies. Curved islands also typically have more storage space than their rectangular counterparts.

  2. By extending your countertop overhang beyond the base of your kitchen island you’ll easily add extra space for seating more guests (and prepping food). Add a trio of bar stools and ta-da – you’ve got yourself an extra dining area/breakfast bar.

  3. Kitchen islands don’t need to be set in stone; if you want something that’s easily removable for rearrangement, try a freestanding island. They’re generally a bit smaller than your typical island, but much more versatile.

  4. Waterfall worktops – benchtops that flow over the edge, covering the side and reaching the floor – are skyrocketing in popularity due to visual continuity that’s sleek and minimal. But they’re not just for show – waterfall countertops protect cabinetry too. Popular options include marble, granite and varnished wood – even concrete is having a moment.

  5. Multi-functional kitchen islands are quite the addition to any kitchen; make the most of your storage by taking advantage of that space under (or even above) your kitchen island; add cupboards, drawers or open shelves. Hanging a pot rack or lazy Susan above the island is a fun way to add dimension.

  6. To break up an all-white kitchen, consider going for an island that’s unique – a statement colour perhaps, or textured quartz; offering timeless appeal, this stone is renowned for not scratching or marking easily, and it requires less upkeep than other materials like granite.

  7. A two-tiered island (an island with a raised bar extension) is a functional and stylish addition to any kitchen; they create a clear separation between the eating and preparation areas, making the kitchen look more organised. Mix and match textures for a unique look.

  8. For something a bit different, consider installing some lighting underneath a bevelled or extended countertop. The subtle lighting source provides tasteful ambience, while acting as a convenient nightlight.


Heavy Metal

Rose gold is out and in its place are the shimmering sheens of copper, gold, chrome, iron and brass, blending together in a variety of ways. A little refresh or a big renovation, a touch of mixed metal magic is sure to add a sparkle to your space.



Metallic interiors will shine bright this year, as we see an assortment of mixed metallics across appliances, lighting, decorative accents and beyond. A carefully curated ensemble of contrasting metal accents is sure to create harmony and balance within any room of your humble abode, while likely remaining a tastefully timeless look for some time to come.

Experiment by choosing one dominant metal and complementing it with a couple of different metal accents – try picking a neutral base – light or dark – that is easy to mix with brighter, bolder hues.

If you’re wary of going too all out, start with small decorative items – but try not to just pick one of each shade and stop there, instead pepper in a couple of items of each metal for more purposeful flow. If you’re feeling a bit braver, embrace the trend by mixing up door/drawer handles, lighting fixtures, side tables and tapware.

Bear in mind that mixing and matching doesn’t mean the metals have to be entirely different from each other; you can absolutely combine two or three cool tones – silver, aged iron and pewter – or warm shades – copper, brass and muted gold.


Beat the Chill

Winter is knocking at the door, and there’s nothing more we’d love than to retreat to the warmth of our caves and hibernate until the sun shines again – we can only dream! Winter is the perfect time to update our interiors so that when we do arrive home from that long, cold, dreary day, a serene and comfortable oasis awaits. We’ve put together our top tips for transforming your home in preparation for the cold months ahead.




1. Toasty tones
Embrace those hot hues: we’re talking dusky pink, amber orange, yellow-y gold and copper brown. Not only do these shades lend themselves to winter decorating better than cooler tones, they’re all relatively easy to pair with the neutral, soft colours – creams, beiges, warm browns and greys – that you probably already have in your home. If you’re feeling a serious change, consider repainting or re-wallpapering your walls in a warm, subdued colour. If you’re not feeling that adventurous, adorning your walls with bright and colourful portraits or wall hangings is a quick fix that instantly adds an element of cosiness.

2. Brilliant boudoir
As the weather cools, your bed linens should change accordingly – as you swap out your light summer duvet in favour of a heavy duck-down inner, it’s the perfect opportunity to give your boudoir décor a ruffle up. Winter’s all about warmth, so investing in inviting, cosy fabrics like velvet, wool and cashmere are well worth their price tag. Have a go experimenting with new furniture – upholstered headboards make that big bedroom statement, as do hanging wicker chairs loaded with pillows and throws – your own cosy cocoon!

3. Flora fantasy
Not just restricted to the summer months, houseplants and indoor greenery can provide that much-needed burst of colour when it’s damp and dull outside. Add a touch of greenery to your rooms to purify the air and emit that tropical jungle feeling – go for flora that doesn’t require much light; dracaenas, philodendrons and money plants are just a few of many. For an aromatic atmosphere seek plants like jasmine, eucalyptus or lavender, otherwise a fresh fern or hanging pot plant might just be the antidote to the winter blues you’re looking for.

4. Graceful glow
Dreary days and dark nights make winter the perfect time to create atmosphere with different kinds of lighting. Entertaining in the winter can be tricky business, particularly if you don’t have a log burner, but you can’t go wrong with the warm glow of a dozen candles, and dotting decorative lamps with warm yellow bulbs around your living space is a sure-fire way to accelerate the ambience. If you do have a fire, spice things up by decorating the area with cane baskets and a pair of circular ottomans.


Home Hygge

Do you remember that scene from The Sound of Music when Maria calms the von Trapp children on a stormy night by singing those immortal words ‘Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens’…?



The sentiments behind ‘My Favourite Things’ may well be universal, but the Danish, who consistently top the charts as the happiest people on the planet, have just one word for it – Hygge. Pronounced hoo-guh, this wonderful word was shortlisted in 2016 by the Oxford Dictionary as word of the year.

Meik Wiking, author of The Little Book of Hygge, describes hygge as being consciously cosy; being with people you love, indulging in good foods, feeling gratitude and upholding equality. With winter on the seasonal horizon, what better time to incorporate the warm fuzzies of this concept to your humble abode?

Here, then, are a few tips from those happy Scandinavians on how to bring hygge to your home.

Burn those candles: the Danes burn more candles than any other country in Europe. From entertaining friends to a romantic dinner for two, a candlelit room spells ambience with a capital ‘A’. Fill your bathroom with fragrant candles and bathe by candlelight for blissful relaxation.

Ramp up the lamps: create a niche space with lamps and lights that are artworks in themselves. Pooled light draws the eye; it’s a gentle beacon that invites rest and time out.

Bring the outdoors indoors: arrange berried sprigs from your garden in an attractive vessel, or place shells, driftwood and other beachcombing finds as focal pieces. Nature’s treasures can be the most beautiful adornment in your home.

Books and nooks: we all need our own hyggekrog (nook) to retreat to, whether it be a den, that little space under the stairs, an attic room, or the studio at the end of the garden. Surround your space with books and belongings that you love. Switch off your phone and succumb to the hush of your hyggekrog.

Colour it cosy: winter’s the season for spicy coloured kilims and rugs. They look exotic and invoke feelings of warmth and pleasure. Add in seating strewn with textured throws and sumptuous plump cushions, and bring on the chilli chocolate!

Fire it up: basking before a crackling fire in a handsome hearth is ultimate hygge heaven! Raise your glass for a toast – “To Hygge!”


Raising the bar

The word is out and you’d better believe it – bar carts are back!




From bespoke French cabinetry models through to art-deco Hollywood-glam and retro stainless-steel models, the bar cart is your mobile, multi-tasking must-have – something your grandmother could have told you years ago! So, wheel on in the star of the show and please, do note how beautifully it’s dressed.

Top Shelf: soda siphon, whiskey, gin, vodka, brandy, rum, Campari, sparkling wine/champagne, orange liqueur (Curaçao, Cointreau or Grand Marnier), vermouth and aromatic bitters.

Bottom Shelf: shaker tins (small and large), pint glass (for stirring), jigger (for measuring), bar spoon, Hawthorne strainer plus mesh strainer, tonic and soda water (it must be both!), sweet syrup in a glass jug (equal parts sugar and water) Collins glasses, rocks glasses and ice.

On Standby: lemon, lime, paring knife, y-peeler, juicer and measuring cup.

Make mine a whisky on the rocks. Cin Cin!