Sue Waddell had "lots of excuses" when the organisers of New Zealand's biggest charity house tour first came knocking on her door.
She didn't think her tiny Devonport apartment quite met the mark after previously tackling a villa restoration in the Waikato.
But NZ House & Garden editor Sally Duggan's genuine enthusiasm on a visit was enough to change her mind.
So the colourful apartment features among 11 diverse urban Auckland houses in the NZ House & Garden Tours.
The four tours will raise money for the Cancer Society of New Zealand and Look Good Feel Better.
They're great causes that help inspire Sue as she prepares to welcome crowds through her front door.
The first thing likely to strike visitors is her use of colour. "I love colour. I never wear black, I hate black ... Colour is one of the most important things in my life."
Her signature shades of green extend into her courtyard where vertical planting helps creates a sense of space.
Plants include coprosma, contrasted with grass, tiny needlepoint ivy and varying white flowers which for the tour will be moth orchids.
She also hopes her collection of art, books and memorabilia will give people a sense of who she is.
If they manage to spy a Team New Zealand helmet it'll give away her youngest son Rob's sporting career.
The helmet is a treasured possession despite the "sadness and agony" associated with its America's Cup history for Kiwis.
It was a Christmas present and Sue is still seeking just the right place to put it.
Sue's apartment reflects how she downsized a lifetime's collection of art, furniture and possessions.
She has moved four times since her husband Jim died seven years ago.
Three years ago she bought her Devonport apartment as a blank canvas and turned it into a vibrant living space.
She's made it home with a mix of old and new possessions.
Among new artworks is a large Jeff Thompson collage featuring New Zealand native birds and plants.
The NZ House & Garden Tour is in Auckland on March 7 and features homes in Devonport, Mt Eden and Herne Bay.
A rural Auckland tour follows on March 28 and includes homes in Clevedon and Alfriston.
Tickets are $65 and strictly limited. Go to ticketmaster.co.nz to book tickets.
- North Shore Times
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