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This fashion designer’s home hits the perfect work-life balance

Fashion designer Jenny Drury’s modern Milford home is perfectly designed to provide a place to live and work

This fashion designer’s home hits the perfect work-life balance

At the end of a busy workday, Jenny Drury draws the curtains, shuts the door to her office and heads upstairs to the living room. Unlike many Aucklanders who sit in traffic for an average of five hours per week, the founder of local fashion labels Ketz-ke and Leo+Be enjoys a commute that takes mere seconds – from her workspace on the ground floor of her Milford, Auckland, home to the relaxing and comfortable living area on the floor above. “The family room would have to be my favourite,” says Jenny. “It’s not only used the most but it’s where we come together to chat and catch up at the end of each day.”

Jenny (52) and husband Rob (54) purchased the modern, four-bedroom home six years ago. “We had actually looked through the house when it had been on the market previously but it wasn’t the right time for us to buy,” explains Jenny. “When the real estate agent phoned us about six months later and said it was back on the market, we knew it was meant to be – we just had to have it!”

The contemporary, resort-style property, just a hop, skip and a jump from Milford Beach, offers the perfect space in which to work and play. The Ketz-ke and Leo+Be office is tucked on the ground floor while the other two levels of the cedar-clad, Barbara Draper-designed home are devoted to living, relaxing and, just as importantly, entertaining.

Many a shindig has been had here, with the heated pool and spa the focal point for summer soirées, and the outdoor lounge area proving a palatial spot to unwind with a bottle of wine. The Louvretec-covered patio, overhead heaters and gas fireplace allow this space to function year round and, thanks to Rob’s green thumb, the hedges and lawn are kept well manicured.

If you find yourself at the Drurys’ of an evening, you might be tempted by Jenny’s signature dish – wasabi and maple-crusted salmon with rocket, pear, walnut and parmesan salad – and there’ll almost certainly be a sweet treat or two. “Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m more likely to serve up a slice or a cake,” says Jenny. “I love to bake and my kitchen is guaranteed to display decorative stands filled with home baking.” And for the tipple? “Champagne is my go-to, but a Moscow mule is best served on a sunny summer’s afternoon in our garden with heaps of fresh ginger, crushed ice, mint and ginger beer.”

The indoor spaces are just as equipped for entertaining, both for adults and 15-year-old son Matt and his friends (this latter group can take over the upstairs media room with its floor-to-ceiling movie screen, Xbox and foosball table). The main level incorporates both formal and informal living spaces, all with brilliant flow to the north-facing entertaining areas. The only changes the couple have made to the home were some landscaping, and transforming a bedroom and family room into the open-plan office that Jenny and her team work out of Monday to Friday.

Jenny finds it easy to separate work from home, and looks forward to starting her day downstairs, “making the magic happen on a daily basis”. Equal parts office and creative space, it’s here that they do all the design work for Ketz-ke and Leo+Be, store the samples, liaise with suppliers and retailers, and manage stock and orders. “It’s a beautiful, bright space and we’re often found popping up to the kitchen for a flat white and morning tea.”

While Jenny owns the business, she and her sister, Brenda Wilkinson, both lead the design. “Every part of our process is collaborative,” Jenny explains, “from the drawing board, to travelling the world to source fabrics, to how we market the range for our retailers. As sisters, we have the advantage of being able to argue until we get the best result!”

Creativity, style and trend forecasting are all part of the job, so it’s no surprise Jenny also feels inspired to continually change things up around the house – “Much to my husband’s annoyance,” she says. “I have a cupboard full of spare cushions, throws and knick knacks that I love to use to rejuvenate a space.”

A “spontaneous” recent purchase of hers is a black and white artwork she saw while walking past a gallery in Bali. “It was one of those decisions you question when attempting to get it on the plane, but worth it when it hangs so beautifully on the wall,” she says. A stainless steel Platner coffee table with a bevelled-edge glass top is another new purchase – the round, gentle shape works perfectly with the square lounge suite.

For this busy business owner, leisure time is spent among friends and family at her place; Jenny loves that there are always people dropping by. If you happen to hear the catchy notes of Rain by Dragon floating on the Milford sea breeze, it’s probably a sign that the Drurys are entertaining outdoors. “It always comes on when I’m in charge of the music later into the evening’s festivities,” she says.

Words by: Lucy Slight. Photography by: Wendy Fenwick.

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