There's something very comforting about going into Peter Reynold's home and discovering his sofa's seen better days.

Well, put it this way, one arm's threadbare, to be honest we wouldn't have noticed if he hadn't fussed about it, we were far too busy admiring his stunning collection of art and objects.

He insists the well-sat-on sofa, is a classic case of that cliche about carpenters never finishing their own homes.

As one of the country's leading interior designer-decorators. Peter Reynolds spends a great deal of time away from his Rotorua home base, meaning his own upholstering issues tend to be consigned to that "to do" list that never quite gets done.


A fair slice of his eclectic collection are gifts. Clients may have been footing the bill but they recognise it's Peter's eye for the unusual that's made their homes uniquely "them".

Not all are the retreats of the super rich, sheep station homesteads, luxury lodges or city apartments, although a fair few are.

A two-bedroom Rotorua unit carrying the Reynolds' stamp has received plaudits . . . we suspect if we asked Peter to make-over our loo the result would be "comfortable enthronement elegance".

Forget commissioning him to do "madly mod". "I don't touch anything that looks like the inside of a fridge or that's grey, for me it's all about colour.

Was he born with an artistic bent? "Not really, but my father was in fashion which may have had some bearing."

His first job was with a Wellington architectural firm, then on to the furniture floor of that biggie of department stores Kirkaldie & Staines.

Related articles:

23 Nov, 2013 5:00pm
6 minutes to read
1 Dec, 2013 2:00pm
5 minutes to read
8 Dec, 2013 12:00pm
5 minutes to read
21 Dec, 2013 2:00pm
5 minutes to read

"I dealt with such a variety of clients: embassies, restaurants, private home owners, government departments, commercial buildings."

Eleven years on he moved to Hurldeys Interiors. "It was when business was flourishing, people queued to get in." His eyes glint when he says a fair number of his "Kirks' clients followed him.

A stand-out assignment was for the director of either the Meat or Wool Board, Peter's forgotten which.

"We had to decorate his office to complement his wardrobe because he appeared on TV so often."

London called. A letter of introduction was the "open sesame" to becoming a consultant at Sanderson Fabrics . . . "amazing, I met such marvellous people from around the world."

However, it was New York Peter hankered for. "When I got there my body tingled . . . the excitement of Grand Central Station, walking down Park Ave. New York was where I gathered a lot more information, experience."

Once home, along with friends he opened a Wellington design business but illness forced him out. Poor health has continued to dog him but that part of his tale's to come. First we find out how Rotorua became his home for the past quarter of a century or so.

"This Rotorua couple [Bill and the late Anne Aston] head-hunted me to run their business while they went overseas, I said I'd come for three months. He almost left before exiting the airport. "I waited over an hour for someone to pick me up ... I very nearly got back on that plane."

His three-month time limit came and went. "By then I'd been introduced to tramping and climbing, recreations I'd never indulged in." Peter was hooked.

He became equally sold on the community, his annual Christmas Collection has become an art world institution, the present is his 30th, and he's a sucker for charitable causes.

This year he chose teenager Zak Swift.

"I saw an article in the Rotorua Daily Post saying this young fellow had to raise $10,000 to go to the Globe Theatre [London]. "I said to myself 'I'm going to help that boy." Peter donated $4000 worth of paintings which, along with collectors' fishing flies, sold at auction for $7000.

"I suddenly thought of something else, I went to the bank and got him a crisp, clean 50 pound note and told him to go and see a live show in London. That's the best thing I've ever done, I guess I was remembering my own youthful days in Wellington's rep theatre."

When Anne Aston died he passed on buying her shop, opening his own. He's now in his fourth premises, each with yarns attached. "When I was next to the police station my car was stolen from outside and used in a hold- up, the cops got a good laugh asking me if the balaclavas in it were mine."

While in what's now Eat Streat, a burst pipe flooded him out on Christmas Day. Peter moved to Pukuatua St and is quick to disabuse those who think problem behaviour around the bus stop area's something new.

"When I was there people were too intimated to come into the shop." That was a decade ago, he's been in Eruera St since.

But for how long? In 2001 spinal surgery forced him to shut up shop for several months. "I was told I'd be home in four days, it was seven weeks."

More recently his lungs have packed up- he has the rare condition, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. "There's no cure but body-wise I'm in good health because of going daily to the QE gym since my back problems."

Always a pragmatist, he's mentally attuned to the condition's ultimate outcome.

"I'm comfortable within myself, if I'm not going to be here in two or three years well, that's gong to be another adventure. I believe in eternity, I'm absolutely prepared for it."