Harmonising work and play

By Leanne Moore

When a Hastings couple renovated their villa to include a workroom, space and light were priorities.

Inside the Whitcher household. Photo / Your Home & Garden
Inside the Whitcher household. Photo / Your Home & Garden

One advantage of living in a "crusty old villa" is that it can take a lot of punishment from small children. That's what Kirsha Whitcher and her husband Jared found when they moved into their new home in Hastings five years ago and their two boys, Teankim, now aged 8, and Teomner, 6, ran riot.

"They had a lot of fun drawing on the walls and generally trashing the place," laughs Kirsha. "Then we decided that we'd like to stay here and, that I'd like to work from here, too."

At the time, Whitcher was using her parents' rumpus room as a work space while her fashion label, Salasai, got off the ground. "But Dad was getting tired of my staff and friends taking over the house," she says. So adding a workroom to the villa when it was renovated was a logical step.

The three-bedroom home now has a 78sq m workroom attached to the rear that was designed in harmony with the existing house. The ceilings in the extension were kept as high as possible, while some walls in the existing house were removed to increase the sense of space and natural light.

The colour palette for the home was kept simple with a shade Whitcher describes as a "light, dirty white", but with different sheens used to pick out accents such as the fireplace surrounds. Even the door frames and skirtings were painted in the white.

"I wanted it to have almost a gallery feel," she says, "Or the feel of a completely blank canvas." The look changes as the sun moves around the house. "When the sun comes through the pink glass on the back door it makes for a grand, hot pink hallway."

With a clear idea of what she wanted to achieve with the renovation and extension, Whitcher drew up plans for each room. Their architect was able to translate these into drawings for the team of tradesmen doing the work.

Before the couple moved back in, they cut back their possessions to absolute must-haves so they could begin afresh to stamp their style on their "blank canvas" with their growing art collection.

In the dining area, a 14-seater matai table takes pride of place under a David Trubridge lampshade. The table came from a school's art room and Whitcher nabbed it at auction for $18 when the school closed down. "I've left it as it was," she says. "It still has graffiti and etched-in names. I love it and I'm glad it's found its own place."

Style tips

Art starter: You can start a collection by visiting small galleries and exhibitions by emerging artists or starting a collective to buy and share art.

Clean beginning: When the couple moved out of their house while it was renovated, they cut back their belongings to the bare minimum so they could start decorating from scratch.

Time warp: Don't be afraid to mix styles from different decades. The dining room is Whitcher's favourite spot because of its mix of vintage furniture and contemporary art.

Leanne Moore is the editor of Your Home & Garden. See the latest issue for the full story on this home and other ideas for your place.

- NZ Herald

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