My favourite space: Cardrona cottage's cosy living room
From the front doormat, Baz and Kate Hastings' visitors can comfortably absorb a full house tour without craning their necks. Baz delights in offering first-time guests a guided commentary as they enter the couple's historic, one-room Otago holiday home.
"This is the grand entranceway," he says, "on your right, the master bedroom. To your left, the front parlour."
Known as Galvin's Cottage, the rammed earth dwelling was built around 1862 and originally inhabited by an Irish immigrant and his family.
When the Hastings initially visited the property, the day was miserable and foggy and the house was bitterly cold and reeked of mouse droppings. "How we had the courage to buy it I'll never know, because you'd have to be mad," Kate says. Out of kilter exterior walls had cracked and plaster was crumbling in places.
Waiheke architect friend Paul McIntosh drew up plans to bring the bathroom indoors and added a small boot bay, but otherwise, the originally 26sqm domain has stood as-is for almost 160 years.
Heritage New Zealand saluted the Hastings' desire to restore and sensitively renovate the building, providing sound advice on building materials and helping to enlist skilled craftsman.
The little cottage takes open-plan living to the extreme - which only increases the cosy-factor: the so-called dining room is actually a built-in, two-person wooden table that separates the tiny living area from the diminutive lean-to kitchen.
Did you have a vision for this space? Galvin's Cottage is minuscule and the living area is really one end of what is pretty much a one-roomed house. We were governed by the position of the existing fireplace and everything else needed to fit in around that.
What are the key features of this space? The Macrocarpa ceiling and flooring throughout were installed about 20 years ago by a previous owner. The replastered walls are coated with a particular type of English lime wash mix, which Baz tracked down.
How would you describe your decorating style? We wanted a rustic, mountain-style look, with a cosy feel (a great contrast to our home on Waiheke Island, which is very much a beach cottage). Furniture and decor are either old or rustic (or both) and colours are all natural tones with plenty of texture. Nothing white in sight!
How have you decorated this space? We found a loose-covered sofa in a textured fabric which is almost like a sacking material, which was perfect, and with the addition of a few antique pewter pieces, an old pair of wooden skis, hessian light shades, textured-linen lamp shades on old soda syphon or wooden bases, it all came together. We have a lovely collection of paintings inherited from my grandparents which are mainly rural/mountain landscapes and they sit perfectly.
Do you have a tip for other decorators? Never skimp. In the long run we believe you are better off to do it once and do it right.
What do you like best about this space? The cosiness. And it's amazing how many people we've squeezed in here!
- NZ House & Garden