Sarah's Victorian Treasure-Box

04 Oct 2010

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Do you have a home full of wonderful Resene paint and colour? Send us some snaps by emailing editor Sharon Newey on [email protected].

A full century of style

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Five years ago, Sarah inherited her 1903, four-bedroom Wellington villa from her parents. “I knew the house and area well and had always loved it. It’s got the hills and bush right on the doorstep so even though I am close to the city I am not surrounded by city buildings – I get a glimpse of the city skyline out the hall window to remind me where I am,” she says. The house, which backs onto the greens of the Thorndon Bowling Club, was in need of re-piling, an experience that Sarah describes as “horrible.” Once it was completed, however, Sarah, an enthusiastic traveller who loves to collect beautiful things, set about renovating the house to reflect her “eclectic” design style.

The formal dining room was a central focus of the redesign. While the house was being re-piled, many of the old wall linings came off, and underneath were pieces of the original 1903 wallpapers. “They were very grand wallpapers – very intense colours – deep reds, warm pinks, dark forest greens, duck egg blue, gold, silver,” Sarah says. “I happened to visit Katherine Mansfield’s house in Thorndon one day and saw that the original wallpapers were on the walls. I asked the staff how they managed to get the wallpapers remade and I was given the name of a local wallpaper printer who replicated all the original wallpapers. So I decided to replicate the dining room one, which is red and gold and pink.”

Sarah brought in interior designer Anita Thomas to help her create a room that was warm and inviting, and displayed some of her favourite treasures. As the room had hardly any natural light, Anita chose Resene Saffron to brighten the walls.

Why did you make the colour scheme choices you did? When I started thinking about renovating I thought I liked neutrals, creams, whites. I couldn’t have ended up with anything more different. Wall colour was the hardest things for me. I kept trying different test pots – but they were either too insipid and neutral or too bold! So Anita helped with that and took the cues from my furniture, me and the original features in the house.

What is your advice for someone trying to achieve a similar look? With respect to the renovation – don’t stress. Things won’t always go right, there will be difficulties, but at the end of the day your life is not defined by a house or possessions. I enjoyed the process of learning and trying things out. I enjoyed the issues – finding solutions and compromises. I enjoyed laughing when it didn’t always end up the way I thought it would. I enjoyed the end of the day when I could go home and see what progress had been made and what new things had been started or finished. On the design front – go with what you absolutely love. You will have a style even if you don’t know it. I did look at lots of magazines and follow advice of cutting out pictures of houses, rooms, gardens, and pretty things I liked. I did seek help when I needed it – it wasn’t always successful! Anita was great though – she seemed to understand who and what I am and took account of where I lived.

pictures Interior design: Anita Thomas Interiors [www.anitathomas.co.nz] Painting contractor: Matt Cleworth Wallpaper reproduction: Sans Pareil Screenprinters Wallpaper Hanger: Norman Honey

A modern reproduction

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The dining table was a great find at Freedom Furniture. “It looks authentic and really works in the room,” says Sarah. “I ended up with two eight-seater dining tables as a result – sadly I had to sell one on Trademe, as I just couldn’t find space to house both!”

pictures Interior design: Anita Thomas Interiors [www.anitathomas.co.nz] Painting contractor: Matt Cleworth Wallpaper reproduction: Sans Pareil Screenprinters Wallpaper Hanger: Norman Honey

A fabulous fabric find

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The curtains were Sarah’s best bargain: just $2 a metre from Spotlight. “I remember walking in the store not looking for anything in particular one day – I saw the bolt of fabric and knew it was right! What was even more amazing was that when I discovered the original wallpapers, the curtain fabrics were an incredible match – right colours, right tones. Turned out it wasn’t that incredible, as the colour and tone came from the tiles on the fire surround and I had unconsciously matched the fabric to them and obviously the original wallpapers had been matched to them as well.”

pictures Interior design: Anita Thomas Interiors [www.anitathomas.co.nz] Painting contractor: Matt Cleworth Wallpaper reproduction: Sans Pareil Screenprinters Wallpaper Hanger: Norman Honey

History brought to life

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The original wallpaper was recreated by Sans Pareil Screenprint, using Resene Gold, Resene Jumpstart and custom-made Resene Sans Pareil Medium Red, Medium Pink, Light Pink and Red. Sarah says her next ambition is to buy a painting from her artist neighbour – Piera McArthur – as the finishing touch for the room. “Her paintings exude life, relationships, fun, vibrancy, laughter.”

pictures Interior design: Anita Thomas Interiors [www.anitathomas.co.nz] Painting contractor: Matt Cleworth Wallpaper reproduction: Sans Pareil Screenprinters Wallpaper Hanger: Norman Honey

A collection of heirlooms

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Sarah’s father was a clock collector, and when he passed away, all the children in the family inherited clocks, including two beautiful grandfather clocks, which went to Sarah’s brothers. The gold French Ormolu clock works perfectly with the dark, ornate wallpaper. The Chinese tea set was purchased by Sarah’s mother – one of three that she owns.

pictures Interior design: Anita Thomas Interiors [www.anitathomas.co.nz] Painting contractor: Matt Cleworth Wallpaper reproduction: Sans Pareil Screenprinters Wallpaper Hanger: Norman Honey

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