Rebecca Bowering: Let the walls do the talking


I've been lucky enough to own several houses over the years, from an ex-state house, to a pretty English bungalow, to a lovely family villa, a French farmhouse, and my little workingman's cottage of today. I still have something on my house bucket list - a New York-style loft.

For years I kept looking at warehouses in New Zealand that may have been suited to such an aesthetic, but most here simply lack the character.

Our Auckland Atelier Textiles showroom used to be a motorcycle repair shop, and I love the exposed steel beams, skylights and concrete floors.

I think the juxtaposition of old and grungy works well with the opulence of our many fabrics and furniture on display.

More often than not the warehouses I viewed, which had the correct zoning, were simply too bland and I had difficulty imagining how I was to add the character required, besides employing an artist to reproduce the aged effect (just imagine the expense if I'd done that).

This aged, raw look is huge everywhere now.

Not all of it is done well. As I walked the streets of Melbourne recently it seemed every fashion retailer was using the style as part of their window display and shop decor.

When I was in Paris in January I started to work with a paper company called Neodko (pronounced Neo D Ko). It is fabulous!

The samples have just started to arrive at our showroom, and we're all so excited about it. The girls at Atelier all have their favourites and have already decided on one for the showroom kitchen.

Neodko produces papers that when hung look like full aged wall scenes suitable for many projects. Like a mural, they add interest, depth and will truly give a room any character you want. The company also has wallpaper for children, including one that depicts one of my favourite children's books, Le Petit Prince, as well as animals, jungle scenes and anything else you might imagine.

Fabrics and other wall coverings have also been following this trend. Rubelli has designed a fabric that echoes the archives of Venice.

Lori Weitzner designs wallcoverings that include stone, fabrics and grasses, and change the feeling of a room entirely. These are backdrops that work for almost all decor styles. Bricks or city scenes look great in a modern or retro scheme. A glamorous room could be enhanced with something neoclassical. A child may enjoy clouds, animals or a corrugated-iron shed wall.

These papers seem to make a room larger because the effect is much like that of trompe-l'oeil (when a scene is depicted with photographic detail and realism), but with a much funkier feel. As with trompe-l'oeil the result is a three dimensional effect, which suggests a bigger space.

So, now these options are available, it's back to reading the Property Press to find that special warehouse. Watch this space.

Atelier Textiles owner and managing director Rebecca Bowering explores the latest textile trends and new interior design ideas every week. For more information see www.atelier.co.nz

- Hamilton News

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