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A grand Remuera home is filled with soothing tones and lots of texture

A true home is one that tells a story about you. The owners of this gorgeous house share eight ways they have stamped their style on it from the moment they moved in

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Meet and greet

Chrissy Conyngham, owner and director of Flo & Frankie, Jono Beaglehole, step-dad to the girls; business manager at Dilworth College, Lucy, 19, Bella ,17, and Ruby, 23, who lives in nearby Mission Bay.

A grand Remuera home is filled with soothing tones and lots of texture

Chrissy, Jono and their daughters moved into their Remuera home eight years ago. Although the character-filled house faced north, had great indoor-outdoor flow and boasted a pool, it did have some drawbacks: it lacked light, the living room was small and the kitchen needed an update.

With an eye for design and detail and a plethora of products at her disposal, Chrissy has transformed the home into a sophisticated and stylish inner-city oasis. Here’s how she did it.

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1. Plan it and book it

Don’t procrastinate. Once you have a vision of what you want, get to grips with the details and start booking in the professionals.

Moving house is stressful, especially with three children, so choosing to remodel immediately isn’t for the faint-hearted. “The day we moved in, our friend Andrew, a builder, took down the wall between the dining room and the spare bedroom so we could create a second living room and a separate dining area,” says Chrissy.

2. Master texture

To design a room with style and flair, learn how to mix patterns, shapes, colours and textures to give a room depth and interest.  

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If, like Chrissy, you’re after an atmosphere of quiet sophistication, try mixing rich textures such as hides, sheepskins and faux fur for warmth and cosy indulgence. “I find the simplicity of white restful, calming and very easy to live with,” she says.

Chrissy has also masterfully mixed spots with stripes, gloss with matte, and black with white to ensure her home doesn’t feel sterile or one-dimensional.

3. Tell a story

Put objects that mean something to you on display, as they give visitors an immediate sense of who you are. 

Although Chrissy chose to keep her base palette neutral, she has used accessories to add colour. A collection of Flo & Frankie coffee-table books, greenery, art, throws and cushions are all in the mix, adding subtle splashes of colour amid the muted tones. Personal objects such as art, books and collections add interest to the white base.

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4. Ace your base

White needn’t be boring; it’s simply a blank canvas to build on. The key is adding layers and textures to avoid rooms feeling too bright or cold.

When they moved in, every wall was painted beige and every frame, door and architrave was a deeper shade of the same colour. It was after holidaying in Greece a few years ago that Chrissy began her “obsession with white”, and on her return she lost no time turning her fixation into reality.

The original timber floors in the kitchen, dining room and hallway were sanded back and white-washed. It wasn’t long before all the joinery and walls followed suit and were painted a soft white (Resene ‘Half Wellesley’). “The lighter colours on the floors and walls totally rejuvenated the house and I’m so pleased with the end result,” says Chrissy.

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5. Add drama

Introduce a central design element that elevates a room’s aesthetic, creates some intrigue and provides a focal point.

The dramatic black wall in Chrissy’s dining area (painted in Resene ‘Blackout’) is a serious statement. A bold design decision like this speaks volumes about Chrissy’s style and personality as well as creating a show-stopping focal point in the room.

Sure, feature walls aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but in an open-plan home like this, it works cleverly to define the space, create contrast and add some of that all-important drama.

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6. Achieve balance

Balance is one of the principles of interior design, the aim being to place features and objects in a manner that is aesthetically pleasing. Balance can be achieved through symmetrical design, asymmetrical design or radial design (based on a circle). 

In the dining room, Chrissy has balanced the visual weight of the circular window by hanging an artwork and highlighting it with a single wall sconce. Despite the fact that the two sides of the wall are asymmetrical, the result is one of balance and visual harmony.

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7. Get the light right

Every room requires a variety of lighting – ambient to create atmosphere, task lighting for close-up work, and accent lighting for highlights.

“Good lighting will always improve the mood of a room, but nothing makes a space feel more unwelcoming than poor-quality light,” explains Chrissy. To create a contemporary look in the kitchen, Chrissy hung transparent Gè pendants by Kartell over the kitchen island.

LED downlights with dimmers provide great overall lighting and a range of lamps and bamboo shades highlight the stairwell and artworks, as well as creating pattern play on the walls.

8. Invest in the layout

Working within original footprints is ideal, but if the layout simply doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to reconfigure. It will be worth the investment.

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The original ‘U’-shaped kitchen was dated and lacked essential storage. Three years after moving in, the old kitchen was replaced by a sleek new one. Chrissy opted for a minimal design with white, satin-finished, flat-panel cabinetry and white Caesarstone benchtops.

“We increased the cupboard heights and depths, created space for a larger fridge and installed a central island that we could all sit around for informal meals,” says Chrissy. Open shelves were chosen as a means of subtly introducing colour and texture, as well as showcasing some of Chrissy’s beautiful Flo & Frankie homeware.

Words by: Annick Larkin. Photography by: Emma MacDonald.

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