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A grand Oamaru villa is restored to balance work and family life

The lines between work and home life blur beautifully in this creative family’s 100-year-old Oamaru villa. Discover how they’ve added a modern touch while restoring its character features

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Meet and greet 

Michael Duddin, stock market analyst), Helen Riley-Duddin, designer and owner of Tinch and curator of Guild in Dunedin, Jemima, 8, Rowan, 3, and Sylvie, 10 months, plus Miffy the pup, Minnie the cat and four bantams.

Helen’s tips for modernising a villa 

  • Respect and trust in the precious raw materials used to build the home. They’re often materials that simply aren’t available anymore but will outlive any new equivalent and offer that elusive ‘charm’ that can’t be bought new.
  • Don’t be afraid to modernise wood (such as the fireplace surround) with paint – the contrast highlights its features.
  • Vinyl siding CertainTeed cladding is a great idea for protecting original weatherboards and cutting down on maintenance.
  • Spend the money on an architecturally designed kitchen that stands the test of time.

Honesty box 

What was your redecorating budget and did you manage to stick to it?
Helen: We were pretty stretched just buying the house so there wasn’t a redecorating budget. The rewiring and lighting was the biggest investment. Our electricians gave a thorough quote and communicated along the way about costs so we were able to stick to our budget.

What areas of your home did you splurge on?
We prioritised the lighting. Some pieces like the Andbros cardboard light on the upstairs landing and the David Trubridge pendant in the hallway are statement pieces, so well worth it.

Any areas you have saved on?
Work we’ve done ourselves such as painting, removing carpet and repurposing furniture. We also had help from family and friends in exchange for a meal or weekend at ours! We like to change the room layouts and art around for a fresh feel. Our restickable wall art is ideal for this – the kids spell out new phrases with restickable letters, and the wall dots often change around with the seasons or our moods.

Do you tend to buy high-end homeware or seek out a bargain?
Our entire home is a mixture of save and splurge. We have a mix of new and secondhand items, high-end and bargain furniture, and self-made or purchased art. We do love a great op-shop find, and Oamaru is a top town for amazing secondhand opportunities. One bargain we are moving away from is off-the-shelf art frames.

Most memorable experience you have had in your home?
One day not long after we moved in, the children were playing in the kitchen. Jemima was at the bench drawing and Rowan was on the floor playing, it was an ordinary scene. But it was exactly what we visualised before we bought the house. The sunlight, the happiness, the beautiful space around the kids, and the garden just beyond the window. It was like they were acting out a scene from our imaginations – it was so precious to realise it was one of those rare moments when a dream had come true.

Words by: Kelda Hunter. Photography by: Kate Claridge.

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