A floral artist with the gift of foraging and storytelling welcomes us into her vibrant home
Who lives here?
Laura Jeffares (floral and hair artisan), Jason Williams (insurance manager), Lily, Lola, and Sailor, plus Coco Darling the Staffy-bulldog cross and Mr Bear and Tiger the cats.
A humble Hawke’s Bay cottage with a magical interior
Stepping through the door of this humble Hawke’s Bay cottage is a little bit magical. You’re greeted by displays of artwork, curiosities and nature’s bounty and beauty: bowls of fresh fruit and veges picked from the garden, jars filled with greenery, and flowers – lots of them – arranged beautifully throughout the house.
It’s warm and welcoming and you get an immediate sense of the people living here. This is the home of Laura Jeffares, a floral artisan, freelance hairstylist and all-round creative force, who lives here with husband Jason and their three young children, Lily, Lola and Sailor. Situated in central Napier, the house was initially bought by Laura and Jason as a renovation project, with the aim of selling it fairly quickly and moving on. But they fell in love with the location, which is an easy walk to the kids’ schools, the town and the beach. Seven years on, they have well and truly put down roots.
The little weatherboard cottage was originally built in the 1940s and, as is common with many homes of this era, consisted of a number of small rooms. Wanting to achieve a more open and spacious feel, Laura and Jason opened up the hallway and removed a wall to create flow between the two main living areas.
They also moved the bathroom and combined it with the laundry at the back of the house, making way for a third bedroom for Sailor, 3, next to his big sisters’ room. The front of the house comprises three bedrooms, the centre contains the open-plan kitchen, dining and living room, while the back consists of the bathroom-laundry and a second living area opening out to the backyard.
A recently added large rear deck has created an outdoor room perfect for entertaining family and friends. It overlooks the backyard and several large vegetable gardens created by Laura. Sustainable living is an important part of the lifestyle of this couple, who like to tread lightly and minimise what goes into our landfills. “I love being able to pop out and pick fresh produce daily,” says Laura.
“Most of our meals contain fresh herbs and greens grown in our own garden,” Laura says. She also loves the juxtaposition of the sharp, clean lines of the boxes and the wild madness held within them.
Indoors, the fresh white walls provide an ideal backdrop for a large collection of artworks, many by local artists. The single coloured wall in the dining room is painted in Resene ‘Sea Nymph’ and highlights the display of floral pictures which has evolved from Laura’s love of flowers. Most of these prints and paintings were found in secondhand shops or at garage sales.
This ties in with another common thread in the interior: everything has a story. As a self-confessed forager, Laura has picked up a lot of her treasures in op shops, while others were gifts or have been passed down through the family – all are clearly cherished. “The trick,” explains Laura, “is not getting what you want, but wanting what you have.”
The dining table forms the hub of the home. Centred between the kitchen and living room, it’s not only where the family gathers for hearty home-cooked meals, conversation and fun, but the workspace where most of Laura’s stunning floral creations are crafted.
Laura’s foraging prowess shines through in her floristry work which nearly always incorporates flowers and foliage that she has gathered herself; it’s this element which helps conjure the feeling of wildness and freedom that has become her signature style. Her excellent eye for colour and form means she can throw together stunning arrangements – be it with flowers or furnishings and accessories in her home – seemingly without effort. But, actually, everything is thoughtfully considered and purposefully placed.
Bursting at the seams with life and personality, the home that Laura and Jason have created is warm, friendly and entirely unique to its occupants – as all the best homes are.
Words by: Vic Bibby. Photography by: Florence Charvin.