Sue Waymouth was working in the front garden of the Herne Bay, Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland villa she shares with her husband Ben and their here-again, gone-again teenage children when one of those unexpected slice-of-life moments landed in her everyday. The original owner of the home, a woman in her 80s, came by with her carer. “She told me how she kissed her first boyfriend beneath the camellia tree,” says Sue. It was just one of many charming recollections. “We’re only the third owners of this house; it’s been very loved.”

MAIN IMAGE A statement light — BCAA by Christopher Boots, from Inlite — makes a play for attention above the chestnut-topped dining table Sue teamed with Danish rosewood chairs by Erik Buch from The Vintage Store. Atop the mid-century Hornslet Møbelfabrik sideboard from Karakter is a sculpture by Iain Cheesman made from a piece of kauri recycled from one of the pillars at the front of the house, and deconstructed white ceramic lights by Szilvia Gyorgy from Sue’s favourite shop in Sydney: Planet Furniture. TOP The swing seat by Dedon on the front deck is coveted at any time of day but particularly on summer evenings. ABOVE In the front garden, wooden figures by Graham Snooks and little coloured kingfishers by Wilma Jennings mix it up amid kentia palms, dypsis palms and cycads. Robin Shafer of Shafer Design assisted with the layout.

Architect Julian Guthrie describes the dwelling as a grand, very pretty villa. And it is. It sits in chocolate-box perfection on a 976m2 corner site beneath magnificent pōhutukawa. The entry courtyard is subtropical splendour, and the generous verandah sets up an expectation of gracious proportions.
“There’s a 3.6m stud to the original home,” says Julian. “It also had a wide hallway, ornate ceilings and kauri floors, but then out the back the scale compressed.” A ’90s renovation with a low ceiling had made the spaces feel, well, wrong.

TOP Steel doors by Dean Morris at Fabrication Specialists slide into the walls to open the kitchen and dining areas to the rest of the house. The couple’s first significant piece, Michael Parekōwhai’s floral Messines, is a striking termination to the hallway, and in the foreground, a Fiona Pardington work from Starkwhite alludes to the artist’s own identity of being both Māori and Pakeha — an in- between space. The photo on the opposite wall was a gift from Lisa Reihana. ABOVE Taj Mahal stone from SCE Stone & Design was the starting point for the tones in the kitchen. Woodstar made the cabinetry and Sue and Julian’s handles, and Leanne Larking from Quattro Uno helped Sue with the drawer layouts. Tex tiles by Mutina from European Ceramics on the splashbacks add interest and a brass unit made by Fabrication Specialists is used to display treasured objects. Curvaceous Dornbracht tapware from Metrix keys into the theme.

The family lived here for 10 years before the couple decided to tackle a renovation. Sue meeting Julian was a key driver. “He loves art like I do,” she says. “Our thinking and our taste were instantly in sync.”
They put their like minds together to alter the blue kitchen, relocate the main bedroom away from the public spaces, build upwards for an office in an eyrie and, most importantly, better connect the living zones with the existing pool. For Julian, this was about crafting transition spaces in between. “We effectively drew the house away from the pool by adding deep, covered verandahs to make these outdoor rooms more useable,” he says.

ABOVE A Sally Smith oar hangs beside a reupholstered chair in this corner of the dining area. “It’s everyone’s favourite chair, including the cat,” says Sue. Roll Club chairs by Kettal bring a bit of colour outside, where the vitex decks are sheltered by a generous brise soleil made with glass and battens.

A glass-and-batten brise soleil allows gentle light to dapple through, glass fencing disappears into the backdrop and sliding doors peel back to the summer-glimmer of the water. “When we resurfaced the pool, we were initially going to go all French grey but were advised that it would look dark and uninviting, so I’m glad we added a bit of blue,” says Sue.

TOP With the neighbours’ row of tapered cypress trees in the background, the pool area takes on an Italian flavour, augmented by formal hedges including lilly pilly, trimmed camellias and smaller buxus. Surrounding the reshaped pool are pavers from European Ceramics and split- marble tiles from Italian Stone. A Vimini sofa by Kettal from Studio Italia and Bela Rope chairs by Bitta Lounge from Kettal form an intimate setting near the water. ABOVE The exterior of the house is in Resene Friar Grey.

The family moved out for 18 months while Axiom Projects effected the changes, with Sue ever on hand to make the important decisions. “I’d be here two or three times a day,” she recalls. Not that she minded — she was in her element.
Sue, who has completed a course at the Nanette Cameron School of Interior Design and is currently undertaking postgraduate studies in art history at university, relished this real-life challenge. “I’m a very visual person,” she says. “I had scrapbooks of ideas for every room.”
She was involved, with Julian, in planning the kitchen, and found the honed, leathered Taj Mahal stone they used for the benches a year before kick-off. That inspired the colour scheme of warm walnut elements set into white floor-to-ceiling cabinetry.

TOP A Cloud light by Apparatus from ECC brings a sense of whimsy to the living room, in which the Andersen corner sofa by Minotti is festooned with colourful cushions. An artwork by Sally Gabori hangs above them, while the small blue works on the far wall, by Noel McKenna (top) and Mark Braunias, gel with a blue glass lamp from Mid Century Design. ABOVE A wooden statuette by Francis Upritchard, entitled Clan of Rob, takes his place beneath a painting by Heather Straka. Objects on the 18th-century table include a Gregor Kregar pig and a Robert Rapson car.

Together, they designed the large, four-part oval handles that are a standout feature. “I’m obsessed with curves,” admits Sue. When she spotted the 1970s swivelling bar stools in the window of Baran de Bordeaux while driving past one day, she shot inside like a bullet. “They come from a casino in Monte Carlo,” she says. “Ben wasn’t sure at first, but once he sat down, they were so comfortable, he relented.”
A mid-century influence is evident — cue the dining room sideboard and dining chairs — but there are antique pieces too, and clearly contemporary elements, such as the statement lighting that’s pure sculpture in suspension.

ABOVE On the walls in the winter room is Aalto Entity paint, part of a colour palette informed by the rug custom-made by SF Design. Myriad lamps enhance the ambiance alongside a pendant bought from ECC many moons ago, among them a black Jieldé light from Flotsam & Jetsam. There’s another Gavin Hurley portrait between the French doors, Elizabeth Thomson’s moths fly on the wall, and on the cabinet found at a junk shop is a much-treasured tea set — a gift from friends.

Such multi-layered influences draw the old and new together beautifully in this 1910 dwelling, where Sue and Ben now have their bedroom one level up overlooking the west garden, and there’s a new shared office at the top, which came in handy during the pandemic and gets a peep of the sea.
Julian widened the staircase here, adding a black steel balustrade to visually link with the Crittall-style doors, and sliders that separate the open-plan areas from the rest of the dwelling and divide off the more formal living room. It means that, when seated at the dining table, guests get an unimpeded view of the Ans Westra photograph of hydrangeas above the updated marble-front fireplace.

TOP A photo by Dane Mitchell on the hall wall depicts a petri dish growing material from dust collected at London’s Tate Modern gallery. In the winter room beyond, figures by Gregor Kregar walk along the mantelpiece. ABOVE A cramped ’90s stairway was removed to provide better access to the first floor. On the landing next to a plinth displaying a golden apple by — who else? — Billy Apple is Wayne Youle’s Peaks & Troughs made from stained glass and snooker triangles; it speaks to the bauble-like Bocci light overhead.

Pink tones tie in with the reupholstered mid-century bucket chairs here. Sue loves colour and has liberally sprinkled it around, including on the walls of the ‘winter room’ painted a teal blue, and in the furnishings such as the sofas reupholstered in purple hues, and bathroom flooring in green and blue.
It’s a passion only eclipsed by her ardour for art. “Every piece in this house has a story behind it, so we had to be mindful to ensure there was enough wall space and to filter the light that reached the interior in order to protect the art,” says Julian.

TOP Sue introduced colour in the bathrooms by having the floors tiled with green and blue Tex tiles by Mutina from European Ceramics. A honed Calacatta marble vanity top keeps the mood classical along with Paini tapware from Metrix. ABOVE In the guest bathroom, a mirror by Powersurge reflects Seeing is Believing by Mary-Louise Browne.

Sue, who’s co-chair of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki’s Contemporary Benefactors, is integral to this fundraising venture that supports artists and the gallery’s contemporary arts programme. She’s been a collector for years. “I buy pieces I love but I also do a lot of research, and I often get to meet the artists and hear what inspired them,” she says.
In every corner of this home, there’s an artwork, object or architectural detail to appreciate. It has a delightful history and is so easy to live in, but there’s another aspect that endears it to its owners. The two neighbouring properties were once occupied by painter Charles Goldie and his mother Maria Partington, an amateur artist. Somehow, you get the feeling they would have approved. 

Words Claire McCall
Photography Simon Wilson

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