Being able to imagine her furniture in a house was the deciding factor for a new arrival to Auckland.
Having lived in and loved Thailand, Kim Charlton was keen to recreate a little bit of Asia in her new Auckland home.
After six years in Asia, where she, her husband Brett and their children had been posted from their home in Sydney, she desperately missed Thailand's tropical tranquillity.
But when she came across an ex-state house in Westmere that had been extended and renovated beyond recognition, she knew it would fit her vision for a touch of the Orient.
" I loved its size, I loved the feel of it and I loved that it was filled with light, bringing the outdoors in. I need nature around me, it calms me. And this feels like my little piece of Asian paradise."
The house was built in the 1930s and started out as a tiny two-bedroom, one-bathroom abode. While the facade remains, the home is now a five-bedroom, two-storey home, complete with a swimming pool.
"We took our time finding a house when we arrived in Auckland," says Charlton.
"We're from Australia, so we didn't know the city. I wanted to ensure I picked a suburb that suited the kind of people we are. To be honest, I originally wanted to move to the eastern suburbs along the waterfront, because I love the water.
But then a friend suggested we take a look around Westmere - and here we are."
One of the things that sold Charlton on the house in 2009 was that she could imagine their furniture in it. Over the years they'd acquired large statement pieces, many of which she had designed herself. "This house was big enough for the personality of those pieces. They looked like they belonged.
"We had a great life [in Asia]. Now that we're in this new chapter, it's nice to be reminded of those years."
The front door of the home opens to a foyer and on to the children's playroom, bathroom and bedrooms. There is also a guest bedroom and en suite in this part of the house. A staircase sweeps down to what's now the main body of the house, where the family spends much of their time. At the bottom of the stairs is a spacious kitchen and dining area, and a huge lounge, all overlooking the pool and outside dining.
All the Charltons need now to complete their Asian-themed retreat is a sala, a Thai open pavilion - which they intend to build one day to house a spa and day bed.
Narrative pieces. Tell a story about
yourself and your family with your decor. "When I sit back and relax at home I sit among the story of our life since we met - and some pieces from before," says Charlton.
Small flourishes. The Charltons have created beautiful spaces with a minimal amount of furniture. For example, Kim has placed an antique cabinet and glass sculpture in the large stairwell to create an interesting focal point.
A treasured artwork can be an ideal starting point for a room's colour scheme. The soft furnishings in one of the bedrooms are keyed off the "heart art" painting on the wall.
* Leanne Moore is the editor of Your Home & Garden. For more pictures see the latest issue of the magazine.