Resilient and beautiful

By Nelson Lebo

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For the last couple of weeks, I've been writing about many of the aspects and levels of resilience addressed by eco-thrifty design thinking.

One of those articles focused on the peace of mind provided by a low-energy and low-resource home, and the other talked about the growing global movement towards resilience to storms: literally in terms of damaging storm surges such as Hurricane Sandy, in New York, and figuratively such as the damage caused by the global financial crisis.

While examples of resilience can be gleaned from around the globe and connections can be made to our local context in Wanganui, I do not mean to overshadow another important component of eco-thrifty design thinking.

There is no reason things cannot be made as beautiful as they are resilient.

This also gives me the opportunity to thank Terry Lobb for her kind words three weeks ago when we swapped columns. Terry wrote about the aesthetics of our $2500 eco-thrifty kitchen by focusing on a number of key elements including the cabinets of our hob with their leadlight doors that reminded her of fantails.

I love fantails, I love those leadlight doors, and I love where we got them: Hayward's Auctions. We paid a fair price for the leadlights - about $50 for the pair - but ended up with a design element in our kitchen that punches above its weight. In other words, the value we receive from these beautiful doors far outweighs the price we paid for them.

This is not to ignore, however, the fact that we had to sand back the wooden frames and then carefully apply two coats of primer and two coats of paint. The other thing I had to do was build cabinets to suit them. It took me nine months from purchasing the doors to realise the cabinets had been here all along.

During the process of turning the old kitchen into the new bathroom, we had to take down the old 1950's cabinets. We removed the unit and put it in a back room. And there it sat until one day I had a vision. The vision was that by cutting away at the cabinet and reshuffling some of the bits, this old rimu unit could see new life in a new kitchen in the same old home. The process was almost like pruning a tree.

First, I removed the Kiwi-mint-green doors. I carefully measured and marked where I wanted to remove parts of the old cabinet that was too big for our new kitchen.

Next, I pruned away some off the length, then some off the height. Then I had to reshuffle some of the bits so that the new, smaller doors would be centred on the pruned (smaller) version of the cabinet. Like any form of renovation, the work may proceed slower than building something new because we are forced to work around pre-existing elements. However, when care and time are taken, the results can be worth the effort.

Nelson Lebo is co-founder of the ECO School with his wife, Dani. - 022 635 0868 - 06 344 5013. They have extensively renovated an old villa at Castlecliff with green principles and sustainability in mind.

Coming eventsToday, 2:30-3:30pm: Scratch to Patch Garden Tour. 10 Arawa Place.

November 18, 2:30-3:30pm: Scratch to Patch Garden Tour. 10 Arawa Place.

November 25, 3-5pm: Foodscaping Workshop. 10 Arawa Place. Pre-registration Required.

Garden Tours: Koha entry.

Workshop Fees: Sliding scale $15 - $30. $5 discount if you walk or ride a bicycle.


- Wanganui Chronicle

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