In search of a slower pace of life, Kim Brebner sold her Auckland villa to move into this rural homestead southwest of the city
In 2011, Kim Brebner was ready for a change and looking for a slower pace of life, so she decided to sell her beloved Auckland villa and move to a beautiful rural homestead in Glenbrook, in the southwestern reaches of Auckland. She now has lush gardens and even room for a pony as well as a small menagerie of animals.
Kim, who grew up in Warkworth when it was still a small country town, has always had a strong affinity with animals, especially horses (she was lucky enough to have her own when she was young). “In the back of my mind I knew I would eventually live rurally again,” says Kim.
She met Isaac shortly after the move and they married on the property in November 2013. Isaac is Jordanian and spent his childhood on an olive farm in a small town an hour and a half north of the capital, Amman, so it’s unsurprising that the couple have returned to a lifestyle that they both enjoyed as children. “Both of us appreciate the privacy and space, and also the increased sense of community that you get in rural areas,” explains Kim.
Aside from its rural location, it’s the age of the home that the pair love. “I have always liked older homes and the character they exude,” says Kim. The house, which is not original to the site, having been moved onto the property 11 years prior to Kim’s arrival, already had a great combination of character, modern conveniences and that all-important indoor-outdoor flow.
No structural alterations were required, which appealed greatly to Kim, who had just completed an expensive refurbishment of her run-down villa in Auckland’s Onehunga. The country property is situated at the end of a no-exit country lane, and although the couple have neighbours nearby, none are visible from any window in the house.
Kim describes the decor when she moved in as being a homage to beige, although colour did feature in the living room by way of a deep, golden yellow. “The yellow had to go. It just screamed at me and not in a ‘hello, sunshine’ kind of a way,” laughs Kim.
Now, the interior is vibrant, welcoming and warm – much like its owners.
The farmhouse-style kitchen is situated on the southern side of the house, so the space is naturally darker than the north-facing living areas. The previous owners had painted the kitchen cream to lighten the area. “This was probably sensible,” Kim concedes, “but I hated it. I am naturally rule-averse so I don’t tend to follow any design formula.” Having pondered for some time over a colour for the kitchen, Kim eventually decided on black, regardless of its light-absorbing quality. “It has actually made the space feel bigger, and I love the black next to the lavender living room.” In keeping with the style of the home, a ladder suspended from the ceiling is used for hanging pots and pans. It suits the couple’s mixed-up style as well as being extremely practical.
“I love the way colour makes me feel and the way it makes others feel. Even if people don’t like it, there is still a reaction”
The home is surrounded by a hectare of land divided into beautiful planted gardens, lush lawns and two paddocks – just enough room to have fun without requiring too much attention, which is ideal as both Kim and Isaac work full time. “We do sometimes fight over who will do the lawns, as an hour out on the ride-on mower can be very therapeutic,” smiles Kim.
The previous owners had put a lot of thought into planting the vast, flat gardens. There are plenty of established trees including poplars and cherries, both of which lose their leaves and create space in winter, but then get green and bushy in the summer, providing shade. “There are roses everywhere, which I love, plus a large row of flax along the southern deck which attracts hordes of tui in summer,” says Isaac.
This rural home is vibrant and warm, open and spacious. It is inspiring and welcoming, but not overly precious. When the doors are open in the summer it is not uncommon to find chickens or Lightning McQueen (the miniature pony) wandering around inside. “We both love animals so to have the space to be surrounded with them is heaven,” says Kim. For her and Isaac, the slower pace of life means more time spent outside – collecting eggs, picking roses and simply enjoying country life. •
Words by: Annick Larkin. Photography by: Emma MacDonald.