Downsizing has been a relatively pain-free experience for Cheryl Colley.
The move from a grand, older home in Avonhead to a compact, new house in a quiet northern subdivision was just what the doctor ordered for this homeowner.
Cheryl Colley's former family home had grown too large and, widowed some years earlier, she finally decided a move was necessary to make a new beginning.
She settled on a land-and-house package in Northwood but, having worked closely with the architects on her former home, she was determined to put her stamp on her new residence. Certain "non-negotiable" elements were factored into the design, along with techniques to amplify space and create cohesion.
"We'd worked closely with Don Donnithorne in 1979, when we built the other house, and I had firm and decisive design ideas," Cheryl says.
While this three-bedroom house is considerably smaller than she originally wanted, Cheryl adapted ideas from a Horncastle Homes show home, opting for a flow-through, open-plan living area that evokes a sense of space. The design also incorporates her own ideas to increase wall space without increasing the footprint, such as inset display shelving. What appears to be a tiny house from the outside, opens into a warm and inviting area in which to live quietly or entertain.
The tiled entrance is wrapped in Harlequin 'Glimmer' wallpaper in maroon, feathered in gold. The confined area is opened out by the tall, gilt-framed mirror opposite the front door and a skylight above. Inset shelving displays Royal Copenhagen and Limoges porcelain.
Cheryl wanted two living rooms, so her "media room" is at one end of the open-plan living area and the formal lounge is at the other end, separated by the kitchen and dining areas.
Walls of books, echoing this one-time English honours student's ongoing interest in arts and literature, surround the media area, with its television, sound system, classical music collection and alcove for a desk and computer.
Cheryl enjoys working with others to get things done and has had many roles on community and arts boards. She is currently the deputy chairwoman of the Fendalton-Waimairi Community Board and has begun a new job as community relations manager for St Margaret's College, after a similar role with the Department of Conservation.
As well as being a subscribed member of the Christchurch Symphony, Cheryl has had a long involvement with the Court Theatre. "I was chairperson of the Court Supporters and have been deputy chair of the trust board. (My husband was chairman of the trust.) I'm still a subscriber and team leader for the ushers. It's wonderful to have the Court up and running again and amazing that Philip Aldridge could look at that dark old granary and have the vision to develop it," she says.
The furniture and cushions in the media area are upholstered in striped and damasked blues and chocolate browns with a velvety finish, echoing the colours in a Pakistani rug Cheryl and her husband brought home from one of their overseas journeys. The heavy drapes (all by Frobishers Interiors) are broad stripes of shot-blue and brown, and the walls are painted in a dusty brown shade called 'Nullabor'.
It's comfortably warm in here. The west-facing windows along the front of the living area attract the afternoon sun. The house is heavily insulated and heated by a central heat pump, a gas fire in the formal lounge, and a couple of panel heaters as boosters, when required.
"It's cool when it needs to be and beautifully warm in winter."
The kitchen is compact, with maximum shelving - part of Cheryl's "non-negotiable" requirements - including a spacious, double-door corner pantry. High shelves are for occasional items, while those for immediate needs are on shelves at a more accessible level. The subdivision has reticulated gas and Cheryl makes use of it with a gas hob (and to heat her water). She also has a microwave and double oven. The bench is hidden behind a cabinet with frosted-glass doors, which contains all her glassware.
The oak dining table is French provincial style. The area is lifted by wonderfully idiosyncratic drapes, featuring striped pageantry tents. "Very Agincourt, don't you think?" These came from Cheryl's previous home and were cleverly lengthened by the addition of braid and a plain, deep border.
French doors open on to the patio within a sheltered, Italianate garden, designed by John Marsh, of KamoMarsh Landscape Architects.
In the light-capturing, soft neutral interior of the formal lounge, more inset shelving displays Lladro and other favourites, while a rustic Asian sideboard holds a collection of tiny silver boxes. Deep-pink cushions lift cosy-looking, inviting settees, brought from the old house and recovered in a wheaten shade.
Landscape paintings by well-known Canterbury artists and splashy Impressionist canvases are scattered throughout the house, alternated with more delicate works, such as a complex Dutch-design tapestry completed by a close friend. A favourite Margaret Stoddart floral painting hangs in the lounge, along with a Garrick Tremain scene and a colourful Jane Evans design originally made for a Canterbury opera.
The first of the three bedrooms is a rose-pink-themed single room, with its bed and other design details - including the manchester and curtains - transported from Cheryl's previous house. A pair of charming prints by Australian botanical artist Helen Leitch hangs above the bed.
Various artworks provide visual and chromatic interest in the hallway. "The artwork is quirky - things that appeal to me, as opposed to being valuable," Cheryl says.
More masculine in tone is the larger, double spare bedroom, with its brown-and-tan theme, dark-stained contemporary tallboy and pair of antique wooden choir chairs.
The master bedroom has views of the garden and western sky, with a large china cheetah statue on guard beside the bed. Chivas is his name and, like Cheryl's two cats, Aslan and Citrine, he appears perfectly at home.
This room has an appealing, vaguely Somerset Maugham air of distant lands and former eras. A built-in alcove houses a dresser and Cheryl's antique silver hand mirrors and brushes. On top of a tall Asian chest is a rotund celadon lidded jar and objects from Cheryl's longtime collection of cloisonne. The Chantilly wallpaper, in a muted coffee shade, is paired with pale walls and carpet, reflecting the gentle colours in a Moroccan bedside rug Cheryl and her husband picked up during their travels in 1983.
Above the bed is a distinctive Chinese brass door latch. A complex circular object framed in a square. "It found me. It is perfect," Cheryl says.
Design details in the ensuite bathroom, such as the large square basin, dark-stained vanity and stripe of river stones to break up the plain tiled floor, repeat the patterns in the main bathroom. The ensuite has a large double shower.
The main bathroom has a bath, as well as a shower.
The laundry occupies a small hallway that leads from the house to the double garage. This perfect space accommodates a washing machine and a dryer under a benchtop and sink, with capacious wall-hung cupboards above. As with the other utility areas of the house, the laundry was designed by Trenz.
Walls in the neat garage are hung with small paintings and prints that overflow from the house. Among them is a framed certificate showing this house was a gold award-winner in the 2008 House of the Year Awards for Horncastle Homes, a subtle reminder of its quality.
In her former house, Cheryl had an indoor swimming pool. Now, obviously, there is no room for that. But living where she does, she was obliged to take up membership of the nearby country club, which has the convenience of multiple facilities, including a pool.
"Everything worked out well," Cheryl says. "Horncastle Homes were great. I worked with the architect, got what I wanted perfectly, and it was pretty much pain-free.
"I love it here. It's a very welcoming community and it's just a great place to live."