More or less: An artful mash-up

Artist Debra Melville and her antiques dealer husband Donald love to live surrounded by 'conversation starters'.
JANE USSHER

Artist Debra Melville and her antiques dealer husband Donald love to live surrounded by 'conversation starters'.

Life is richer when you live surrounded by art, says Leigh Melville, a director at Auckland's Art and Object.

Her antiques dealer husband Donald's favourite pieces sit happily alongside edgy modern art in their Parnell villa.

Leigh loves the fact that their daughter Frances, 13, is growing up in a home "surrounded by things that give you cause for conversation and something to think about".

Handsome Burmese cat, Milo, also appreciates his surroundings, and can be seen at left on an antique ottoman. 

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I can't imagine living without art and antiques: To me they are part of our life and lots of things have a story behind them – travels we've been on and experiences we've had. For example the Séraphine Pick portrait of Katherine Mansfield on the wall behind me was bought with my step-daughter in mind. She lives in the south of France, so it speaks of the New Zealand/France connection and I'd like to think that one day she'll take it back to France.

This room is a mash-up: Of contemporary and old things. I like the way the security guard (Michael Parekowhai's Kapa Haka) sits on the oak cupboard base beside a pair of English cast-iron dogs, French candlesticks, a contemporary Jaime Hayon candelabra and the grey glass piece, Beloved, by Emma Camden. 

I come across other people: Who don't aspire to have more art than they can hang over the fireplace, who like to live in a minimalist way, but that's not me.

People like us: Are buyers not sellers. I'm always acquiring new things – I seldom sell anything. I like to buy art that gives me something to think about, like the untitled Peter Robinson work above the cupboard – it has a political perspective. That's the kind of work I like to buy as I know it will reward me over a long period.

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In winter: This is a cosy room. I like living with antique furniture; it brings a lovely atmosphere to a room. And I love the way the Layla Walter coloured glass works gleam as the light shines through the bay window.  

 - NZ House & Garden

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