This Hawke’s Bay kitchen has cottage-style charm

With a ‘good cooker’ at the helm, this small but perfect Pakowhai, Hawke’s Bay kitchen has served the family well for decades

At a glance

Who lives here? Liz and Gary Spence (both retired).

Where is your home? Pakowhai in Hawke’s Bay, a rural settlement nestled between Napier and Hastings, bordering the Ngaruroro River.

Total budget: $7,000

Liz, what was the kitchen like when you first moved in? It used to be all white but we painted it Resene ‘Coral’, a soft browny pastel. I like the mellow mood of earth tones. We have continued the colour throughout the house.

What changes have you made to the kitchen? We love doing everything ourselves but did have the plain cupboards and benchtop redone. We also added modern conveniences such as soft-close drawers, but stayed true to the original cottage style of the home. The seagrass matting was an original feature and has been replaced – it used to be the cheapest form of floor covering but now it’s expensive! We used offcuts from a friend’s house and stitched them together with a sack needle. We also added new lino around the cooking area.

What elements have you done yourselves? Luckily, my husband Gary is a dab hand at DIY, and we like to create something special without it costing a lot of money. We bought the old black stove from an op-shop in Napier years ago and installed it where the original stove would have been. I used to cook on it when our children were small and it kept the home very cosy in winter. We no longer use it, but it still looks lovely in the kitchen.

Tell us about the objects in your kitchen… We love the kitchen just as it is but I am constantly perusing antique and secondhand shops just in case I find that extra-special something! I love being creative so the kitchen is always evolving. Pieces which have special meaning go in the kitchen display and I love how my constantly evolving collection tells a story.

What aspects of the kitchen do you love the most? I love to cook for family and friends, who gather round the large oak table in the adjacent dining room. My children, and now my grandson, love to sit and paint at the breakfast bar. The view of the garden is perfect for a quiet morning cuppa, watching the seasons come and go. I love the cottagey, rustic style.

What are your favourite memories? My favourite memories are my eldest daughter, about 1 at the time, looking out to the garden and getting excited about fantails in the wisteria, and later her sister, at about the same age, playing happily with the pots on the floor. More recently, my grandson was sitting here eating my homemade waffles and butter and said, “You’re a good cooker.”

Words by: Tina Stephen. Photography by: Sarah Horn.

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