Texture, comfort and colour – interior designer Nicola Manning says soft furnishings can help create a sense of home. Photo / Dean Purcell

Home is where the heart is – and also the dining table, the fridge and a comfortable bed. Twelve creatives tell Kim Knight about the essentials that make their house a home.

Nicola Manning, interior designer, Nicola Manning Design

A really comfortable and luxurious bed! So that when you collapse into bed after a busy day you just feel comfortable and cocooned by beautiful linen and pillows and a quality mattress. It transforms a room – an upholstered headboard, a quilted comforter or velvet – it’s texture and comfort and colour. It gives you a sense of security and safety and being “home”. There’s nothing like the comfort of your own bed.

What really changes a house into your home are the personal touches – photos, things you’ve bought when you’re travelling, an antique from a parent or grandparent, a piece of art or something in your favourite colour. Often, as an interior designer, we’ll ask, “What are you wanting to keep?” and we can use that as a starting point. You can design a space but it’s those personal pieces that transform it into a house.

Doris de Pont, New Zealand Fashion Museum director with the former library table turned living space. Photo / Dean Purcell

Doris de Pont, director, New Zealand Fashion Museum 
We have a dining table – an old kauri library table that we have had since 1987 – that can seat 10 comfortably, more very cosily. We live at the table. It’s the preferred sitting place in the living space for reading the Herald, drinking coffee, meeting – and eating, of course. It comes into its own on Monday nights when the children, grandchildren and all-comers come home for “family dinner”. I have a special relationship to clothes – through my career but also very much personally. For years my clothes hung on racks in old villas that didn’t have built-in wardrobes, even in this house for too many years. Then, in 2002, our friend, architect Chris Fox designed a wardrobe for me. It is a red lacquer treasure box with brass-toned whorls that pops out into our bedroom space and the glossy surface acts as a mirror for the garden outside. The doors concertina open to give me access to two levels of storage space with enough room for my shoes – did I mention that I also have a thing about shoes?

Close-up of Te Korekore by artist Jade Townsend (Ngāti Kahungunu) from her exhibition Homesick/Sickhome, finishing June 20 at Page Galleries. Photo / Ryan McCauley

Jade Townsend, Ngāti Kahungunu, mixed media artist, currently exhibiting Homesick/Sickhome at Page Galleries, Wellington 

Te Ao Māori (Māori world) is the essential element and practice in my whare. A Māori perspective allows me to find exchange, companionship and joy in all things living and nonliving – it is my most powerful tool. I perform this belief through my mahi/my artwork which happens in domestic spaces – I have artworks in all stages of completion splayed from the fridge, to the kitchen bench, to hanging from all the previous tenants’ hooks. For me, home is a set of relationships. For the most part I can build, carry and access those relationships wherever I go but there are some relationships that are unique to my nature and environment. I learn about myself when I am away but I grow when I am home.

Home selfie styling from Canvas fashion creative director Dan Ahwa. Photo / Dan Ahwa

Dan Ahwa, fashion director, Canvas 

When I got married two years ago, it suddenly dawned on us that maybe we should start living in a space that didn’t feel like a generic flat. Like most young couples on a budget, we settled on the most boring grey couch we could find at Ikea and a coffee table from Nood. We suffer from Peter Pan syndrome and still feel like we have some growing up to do, so in the past year, we focused on making our home feel a little less juvenile. So we took a risk. It all started with a questionable vintage couch – a scallop-shaped corner sofa in pink velvet zebra stripes, believe it or not. Restored from the 70s, it was a radical departure from the grey bore we had previously but is the essential piece of furniture that makes everything else make sense. It’s comfy, too. We figured life was too short to come home to a dull home.

The sofa anchors everything else we have surprisingly well. Atop a Persian rug and surrounded by books and chaos, we wouldn’t have it any other way. The last thing we bought during lockdown was a leadlight drinks cabinet from the 1930s and that seems to have taken things up a notch too. We’re still trying. We’re surrounded by a lot of plants at home, and I suppose it’s an element that we can’t do without because we both love nature and being outdoors. Plants seem to inspire a lot of creative thoughts for me. Our home is an extension of our personal style too – surprising, bad taste – yet making total sense to us.

Detail from the beaded Kuala Lumpur junk shop find by Phil Brooks’ mother. Photo / Supplied

Phil Brooks, ceramic artist, currently preparing for a solo show at Milford Galleries Dunedin 

I admit it. I am someone who loves a bargain. I learned from the best, as my mother was a gold-medal haggler. My 1970s house in Avondale is home to some of her triumphs, where they rub shoulders with my own small victories, unearthed in charity shops and antique markets.

There is one piece that vies for top spot, a beaded panel that Mum found in a backstreet junk shop in Kuala Lumpur, where we once lived. At over two metres in length, it comprises around 200,000 miniscule glass beads and depicts a colourful riot of parrots and peonies. She kept it rolled up in a trunk under her bed for decades until the arrival of my own (now teenage) daughter, when it was carefully framed and hung in her bedroom.

The essence of my home is not static. It evolves as my collection of eclectic bargains grows, the stories it carries are shared and as it in turn absorbs the life of my own family.

Christina van Bohemen, architect, says a dining table can connect spaces within a home. Photo / Dean Purcell 

Christina van Bohemen, architect, Sills van Bohemen Architects 

In thinking about what makes home a home, you’re thinking about home as a refuge, as well as a place to gather. Hopefully you can achieve both.

A dining table is like an anchor. I probably spend more time sitting at the table than I do on the sofa. The sitting room is a destination, you don’t want to walk through it, you want to stop and be contained. A dining table can connect spaces and it can be very accommodating of different activities.

During Covid, ours had an office at one end. I used a plant and a placemat to make the line – work was at that end! The table is a Sam Haughton design that we bought 15 years ago. It’s quite simple and narrow, which I think works well in an apartment. There’s something about a narrow table that feels intimate. The other thing about a table is the view out. I always put visitors looking out toward the room … When there are no visitors I always sit looking out. It’s that thing of not being limited or not feeling like I’m missing out on that sense of beyond.

Dariush Lolaiy, Cazador chef and co-owner, doesn’t get much downtime but says home is a mustard-coloured couch.
Photo / Babiche Martens 

Dariush Lolaiy, chef, co-owns Dominion Rd restaurant Cazador with his wife and maitre d’ Rebecca Smidt 

We work long days and nights and our couch is a beacon of leisure when we arrive home. It was custom-made by Rebecca’s cousin at Forma Design and it’s big enough to accommodate the whole family. It’s a startling bright mustard colour and it almost fills our tiny apartment. Sinking into the depths of its cushiony embrace is our greatest pleasure.

We inherited some paintings from Rebecca’s great-uncle. His uncle painted them in Holland, where we originally saw them. Many of them hung in Bex’s grandparents’ house and to have them in our place makes us feel connected to our family and makes our little concrete bunker feel like home.

Divya Purushotham, associate at Warren and Mahoney and co-chair of Architecture+Women-NZ 
I live in a 130-year-old railway worker’s cottage in Onehunga with my husband, who is also in architecture. We’re currently working through renovations and it’s the perfect time to reflect on what is essential to its identity, especially since we’re making decisions about what to retain and remove. One of the first things that we loved about this cottage was a name plaque that sits on top of our front door, which reads “Temuka”. It has intrigued us ever since and we’ll keep trying to solve the mystery of its significance and how it came to be.
When we first started setting up our home five years ago, we had a small but special selection of objects that had many stories associated with the countries of our birth: India and Sri Lanka. I have a series of Indian antique brass pots that were originally from my grandparents’ home in Bengaluru, India, that are now here with us in Auckland. These have been irreplaceable and contribute to a sense of “home”, with their collective history and memories.

Jason Kim, chef, relies on canned Korean coffee – and his kids – to create a sense of home. Photo / Yuki Zhang

Jason Kim, chef, has just opened Gochu at Commercial Bay 

I get up early every morning before the kids, put on Iron Maiden – guilty pleasure, don’t judge – and crack open a can of Maxim [Korean canned coffee]. This is “me time”. When the kids get up, Iron Maiden quickly goes off and breakfast goes on for the kids. Cheese toasties, their favourite. Mornings like this are what makes my house a home.

Detail from Amanda Neill’s firepit. Photo / Supplied

Amanda Neill, interior designer, Designworx New Zealand 

I’ve always had a fascination with fire, perhaps because as a Sagittarius I am a fire sign. I could watch the flames dance all night as they curl and twist around themselves. Having a fire in my home is very important to me, it creates an ambiance that nourishes and feeds me.

During Covid-19 lockdown, as we disconnected from the world apart from those in our bubble, I realised that at the core of my very being was my need for connection. I zoomed, literally, around the world to reach out to those people most important to me, my kids, family, friends, colleagues, to keep connected. I also had time to think, time to imagine and out of that came Alchemy Firepits. There is nothing more enjoyable than sitting around a fire, with people who matter most and talking late into the night while the flames warm your body and soul. Mine has a quote on it: “Dusk is a time when we whisper matters of the heart.”

Glass artist Devon Ormsby’s recent purchase from wood turning design studio Walk in the Park. Photo/ supplied

Devon Ormsby, glass artist 

Artwork and art objects create a homely atmosphere – a personal collection of things that reflect my interests and that I find inspiring. To name a few favourites, I recently purchased a pair of Ruth Castle woven baskets. I’ve also been a long-time fan of Walk in the Parks’ han- turned wooden pieces and have a stadium bowl from them that I love to put fruit in.

I have an ever-changing assortment of my own glass fruit around the house, as well as pieces from my peers at work. Growing up, I remember visiting different houses and my favourites were ones that had lots of art and shelves full of little antiques and objects. A curated museum at home. One day I want to build my own house and put artwork on every wall and have shelves full of textiles, wood, ceramics and glass. Each piece that tells a story of some part of my life.

Home is a full fridge, says Emma Ogilvie who co-owns Bar Celeste with chef partner Nick Landsman. Photo / Babiche Martens

Emma Ogilvie, general manager, co-owns Bar Celeste on Karangahape Rd with her partner and chef Nick Landsman 

Since we’ve moved from France to New Zealand it’s been a bit chaotic. We keep moving houses. In Paris, we lived in the same apartment for four years… it had a good kitchen and an island bench where we could host while still cooking. I really dislike having to cook everything in advance or to be stuck away at the back of the kitchen while your friends are sitting at the dining table. Having an island or a bench with stools that is connected to a good kitchen is what we look for in a house. You could go on and on about the dream entertainment home but I think that’s the start of it.

I’ve moved between France and here so many times, I’ve never really collected tonnes of stuff that I’ve been able to carry around with me. Having a full fridge of food is definitely the one thing that I think makes your house feel homely. We’ve been quite busy this year, we keep filling it up and then bringing it back to the restaurant and cooking, because we’re never at home. It’s really sad. We used to go to our chef friends’ houses and they’d have nothing in the fridge apart from ketchup or some pickles and we’d always say, “We’ll never be like that…”

Read the article in the NZ Herald Online