Acting on impulse is a way of life for Caroline Marr. It's how she chooses objects and artworks and it's how she bought her home 20 years ago.
"I'm quick to buy," she says. "If I love it and can afford it, I'll have it."
And that attitude helped kick off her fashion business, The Carpenters Daughter, about 20 years ago when she was driving past a property in the Auckland suburb of Three Kings. "I saw the 'for sale' sign from across the road and bought the building that day," she says. She sold her home and moved to Three Kings.
While her new home wasn't much bigger than her old one, Marr was attracted by the property's small street-front store and the large living area at the rear.
"There had been a leadlight shop at the front and a bakery at the back, with the offices for the bakery in the house in between," she says. Marr began turning the house into a comfortable family home. The single-storey bungalow was lifted so a new level could be built beneath it with three bedrooms, a second bathroom and a large garage.
With more rooms downstairs, Marr could afford to knock down several walls upstairs to create a large open-plan living, dining and kitchen area, as well as a bar, an office and a small bathroom.
What she has created is a warm and inviting space that also houses her many collections. Marr regularly sorts through her possessions and puts in storage anything she has grown tired of. Some of these pieces have also found new homes in her boutiques.
"They've each got a little bit of me in them," she says.
In the lounge are bench seats made by Marr's father, which have been stacked against the wall to serve as shelves. A vintage trunk doubles as a coffee table and storage.
"I grew up living [next door to] Ralph Hotere," she says.
"He had all these artist friends who used to come to visit. That's where I learned my love of anything handmade. If things are a bit beaten-up, bruised and mismatched, that's even better. Things don't have to be new."
Recurring theme: Marr creates interest in her home through recurring motifs such as mirrors, hearts, vessels, dolls, quilts, glassware and maps.
Finders keepers: Recycling furniture is a favourite pastime. In her office Marr has two green retro-style chairs she found on the side of the road. "It's such a waste not to use them."
* Leanne Moore is the editor of Your Home & Garden. For more pictures and the full story on this house see the latest issue of the magazine.