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A magical Tauranga property with rural French ambience

The two-storey house on this magical meandering property is a blend of Kiwi woolshed-meets-French country

At a glance

Who lives here? Rebecca-Jane Russell (designer, farmer and wedding-venue owner and manager), partner Jean-Francois Larue (arborist), Rebecca-Jane’s children Moss, 14, and Maggie, 12, Jess and Molly the dogs, numerous cats, horses, goats, black-faced sheep, dairy heifers, beef cattle, chooks, and miniature kunekune pigs named Maybelline and L’Oréal.

Rebecca-Jane, how important was it for your home to include an orangery? I very much love the French aspect of it; plus it provides a venue for intimate luncheon and dinner parties (for up to 22) and for indoor wedding photos. The internal spiral staircase leads up to a bedroom where brides can get ready, and where newlyweds can spend their wedding night.

A favourite room in your house? There are many much-loved spaces and the bathroom is certainly one of them. I have only one small light in that room to read by, but plenty of scented candles. I can lie in my claw-foot bath and take in the view, which includes keeping an eye on the children and the stock.

Style secrets

  • Consider adding a magical extra to your home to delight children – for example, interconnecting bedroom wardrobes, or a secret passage
  • If possible, widen a section of your passageway to make an area to include a keyboard or computer desk and shelving for books and board games
  • Contemplate including a fire-side cupboard – that can be fed from outside – to enable easy access to firewood
  • Give thought to positioning your fireplace at an elevated level so the flames can be enjoyed at eye-level

Words by: Monique Balvert-O’Connor. Photography by: Angela Keoghan.

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