My favourite space: The grand hall that was once a piggery gallery

Mandie and Dan are both foodies and the dining area is a favourite part of their home; keeping them company are Peppe Le ...
JANE USSHER/NZ HOUSE & GARDEN

Mandie and Dan are both foodies and the dining area is a favourite part of their home; keeping them company are Peppe Le Poo, a wheaten terrier, and Bear Dog, a cross-breed.

A large, stuffed boar's head on a cakestand takes pride of place in the "Grand Hall" of Mandie Taylor and Dan McGovern's home in Pahoia, Bay of Plenty. Having "Uncle Albert" in their home and in such a place of prominence is fitting, says Mandie, given their abode is a former piggery.

The piggery originally belonged to Mandie's parents, who, 40 years ago, bought the block of land on which it sat, 20km north of Tauranga. Her parents converted the land into a kiwifruit orchard and improvements were made to the piggery: the roof was raised and a few lean-tos were added to stabilise it so it could be used as an implement shed.

Fast-forward a few years and Mandie and Dan hit upon the idea of converting the former piggery into a home. The couple had vision by the bucket load, an appreciation of the charm of a history-laden building, and a quirky approach to life.

Dolls' heads and body parts are a design staple.
JANE USSHER/NZ HOUSE & GARDEN

Dolls' heads and body parts are a design staple.

They concede, however, that the former piggery was hardly pretty. Mention the 35 mummified rats in the ceiling and people get the picture, says Mandie. Fortunately, they found a creative local tradesman who shared their vision and set about getting stage one of the renovation trucking along. Although they would eventually add an additional 125 square metres to the property, stage one involved transforming the oldest part of the building into the "grand hall", which incorporates a formal dining area and sitting rooms.

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In Mandie Taylor and Dan McGovern's Pahoia home, the main living area, which was once a piggery, has been christened the ...
JANE USSHER/NZ HOUSE & GARDEN

In Mandie Taylor and Dan McGovern's Pahoia home, the main living area, which was once a piggery, has been christened the grand hall.

Dan and Mandie relish the touches that remind them of the building's origins. Wherever possible, building materials were reused, including an abandoned triangular window, which is now at the gable end of the "grand hall". The builders were keen to disguise the concrete sty-dividers with ply, but Mandie insisted they stay.  

What was your vision for "the grand hall"?

We needed a large dining space as we love to entertain family and friends, and this is perfect for any occasion. We can have large dinner parties around the 14-seat table with bifold doors opening to the pizza oven and outdoor fire area. - Mandie

Guests have either a love or a hate relationship with eye-catching Uncle Albert, a 25-year-old boar from the Kaimai ...
JANE USSHER/NZ HOUSE & GARDEN

Guests have either a love or a hate relationship with eye-catching Uncle Albert, a 25-year-old boar from the Kaimai Ranges; the cloche holds bird feathers.

How has this space changed?

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We kept the whole original 130sqm footprint, including the concrete slab base and the board-and-batten interior. We bought some second-hand wooden joinery to add to the stuff already here, some of it found in the rubble. We relined the building with beech plywood oiled with linseed. Ceiling trusses had to be scribed in as none were straight. - Dan

What was the decorating process?

In Mandie Taylor and Dan McGovern's Pahoia home, the main living area, which was once a piggery, has been christened ...
JANE USSHER/NZ HOUSE & GARDEN

In Mandie Taylor and Dan McGovern's Pahoia home, the main living area, which was once a piggery, has been christened "the grand hall".

Being an old piggery made it easy -  we had to have "Uncle Albert", a 25-year-old boar's head from the Kaimai Ranges, take centre stage. A friend made the table to our design, the lights came from Freedom and reminded me of those in my childhood home. The artwork was commissioned by Dan and I from Tyrone Lane. - Mandie

How would you describe your decorating style?

Electic.I am an avid collector of furs and decanters, so they all get thrown into the mix - Mandie

What's your best decorating tip?

Have and do what you love; it's you that has to live with it. - Mandie

The Japanese wedding cabinet was, appropriately, a wedding gift from the couple's family; the artwork to its left was ...
JANE USSHER/NZ HOUSE & GARDEN

The Japanese wedding cabinet was, appropriately, a wedding gift from the couple's family; the artwork to its left was given to Mandie by an appreciative Unitec student after she gave him exhibition space in her former cafe.

The decanters were found during a Hospice shop fossick: "If Hospice shopping were an Olympic sport, Mandie would be a ...
JANE USSHER/NZ HOUSE & GARDEN

The decanters were found during a Hospice shop fossick: "If Hospice shopping were an Olympic sport, Mandie would be a gold medallist," says Dan.

 - NZ House & Garden

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