Interiors: Making space for work and home

By Leanne Moore

Adding a mezzanine floor to an Auckland apartment was the solution for a busy couple.

Jenny Miles and Nik Riviera commute to work via a ladder. Photo / Your Home & Garden
Jenny Miles and Nik Riviera commute to work via a ladder. Photo / Your Home & Garden

After many years of living and working in Europe, Jenny Miles and her partner Nik Riviera moved to New Zealand for a change of lifestyle.

English-born Miles met Aucklander Riviera when he was working in London and they soon discovered they had a common work history.

"After working at various design agencies we decided to join forces, setting up our own design studio, Hardhat," says Miles.

Three years ago they decided to live and work in New Zealand, although still servicing their international clients.

Having always lived in buildings that could also double as their design studio, the couple "struck gold" with an apartment in Herne Bay.

By adding a mezzanine floor, they turned the one-room space into a place where they could both live and work. The mezzanine floor is used for sleeping, while downstairs is for work and living. The commute to work is via a ladder.

"This means we spend our working days in a space we love, surrounded by things we like to look at," Miles says. "Which for a creative type means a lot."

And the decor they are surrounded by defies pigeonholing, as even Miles struggles to put her finger on her personal style.

"The apartment as a whole, rather than individual items, says far more about me and my design style, which pulls influences from many places, times and styles," she says. "It's hard to pin down."

The couple have an array of interesting objects that they have picked up while working and travelling overseas.

As an example, Miles points to the bright orange ceramic horse head on one of the apartment's exposed brick walls.

"Nik and I fell in love with this while we were in New York and bought it just before we left to come here," she says.

"Despite the box rolling off the conveyor belt at Auckland airport and being so battered it was unrecognisable, the head survived the trip. We got a few funny looks from the Customs guys checking the x-ray machines though."

On a road trip in the United States, Jenny picked up one of her favourite displays - three antique ceramic heads.

"What I love about them is that they are all individual," she says.

"Each head has a different shape and features, and they are hand-painted with such attention to detail."

Living in New Zealand, though, has meant the couple have had to take a different approach to work.

"We've become far more proactive in terms of searching out ideas and inspiration because we don't have it thrust on us as soon as we walk out the door as we do in cities such as London or New York."

Style tips

Colour cues: Miles has a range of colours she loves to use - greys, silvers and browns with vivid red, pink and orange.

Easy attitude: When it comes to interiors, she doesn't agonise about getting things right or wrong. You should "have fun and make it effortless".

Make it personal: Putting your hobbies or personal obsessions on display makes for a much more interesting home. Miles loves collecting white ceramic ornaments and old glassware.

Leanne Moore is the editor of Your Home & Garden. For the full story on this house see the latest issue of the magazine.

- NZ Herald

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