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This French-country new-build will make you want to go wild with wallpaper

This sprawling, single-storey new-build in Tauranga is anything but one-dimensional. Quality materials, heritage bones and personality-plus make this a stand-out family home

When moving from one new-build to another, homeowners often tend to replicate the favourite aspects of the house they are vacating. Not so Glen and Sara Stewart. The new house they now call home, sited down a quiet lane in Tauranga, bears no resemblance whatsoever to their previous house further up the highway in a rural setting.

“In fact,” says Sara, “we’ve done a complete flip around, from a modern home in the country, to a villa-style home in the city.” New-build number one featured expanses of polished concrete floor, steel beams, glass and stainless steel. New-build number two, a sprawling single-storey with wings, features weatherboard, large verandas complete with fretwork, rustic and French-country touches, and a less- than-restrained approach to wall and window treatments.

The wallpaper

Sara confesses to being “a little quirky” and is happy for her home to reflect that. Wallpaper is a fantastic way to express your individual taste and Sara has employed it to great effect. The design in the powder room and connecting hallway is a particular favourite.“It’s called ‘Topsy-Turvy’ and at first glance it’s like an old-fashioned floral in muted colours. But when you look closely, it’s got fish kissing birds, and jewels hanging from branches. I love that surprise element; how at first it looks very grown up and then it’s, ‘Oh wow!’”

Yes, she has been asked on numerous occasions how she got the butterfly wallpaper, in the master bedroom, past her husband. “Perhaps because it’s scientific-looking, rather than ‘pretty pretty’,” she muses.

Sara’s wallpaper tips

  • Search out a good interior decorator to instill confidence.
  • Find something you have an emotional reaction to. If it’s a positive reaction then go for it!
  • Feature walls negate the need for lots of artwork. The wallpapered wall in Amira’s room, for example, is like a huge mural.
  • Furnishings can be kept neutral as the colour detail and wow-factor are on the walls.
  • Position wallpaper for effect, and this doesn’t have to be limited to bedrooms or living rooms. We have wallpaper in an alcove at the end of a passageway – it really draws the eye.
  • No room is too small for wallpaper… not even a powder room!

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

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