From the Editor - August 2011
|Sally wears a jacket by Poodle; photographed by Jane Ussher; make-up by Kaitlin Chapman.
When we find a home to feature in the magazine, I call the owner to talk about timing. “When does your place look best?” I ask. “When should the photographer come?”
Over the past month I’ve rung around 10 homeowners and, from memory, every single one has said the same thing: “Not now!” Mess, they say. Muddy, neglected garden. Half-completed projects.
I can relate to that. Why, I asked myself the other day as I opened the linen cupboard to a slow, lavender-scented avalanche of sheets, do I only ever feel able to clean out cupboards in spring?
Winter, it seems, makes domestic sloths of us, as well as causing us to ditch our exercise habits and take to the couch. In the paper this morning, health and fitness experts were bemoaning the population’s seasonal slide into sedentary habits, stiff joints and weight gain. “Deconditioning” they called it and the term could also be used for the easing of domestic standards that happens in many New Zealand homes during winter.
The strange thing about domestic deconditioning, though, is that we let it happen at the very time that it is most noticeable. In winter we spend hours in our living rooms, surrounded by the growing piles of magazines and dusty skirting boards. In spring, we leap to our feet, tidy up and do the garden… then head off out of the house to a seasonal string of barbecues and beach visits. And the ultimate irony: in late December we go on holiday, leaving our perfectly groomed houses and gardens empty and unadmired for weeks at a time.
What’s that all about then? One theory is that our winter homes are tailored to our own needs – to what feels comfortable for us when we are at a low winter ebb. Our summer homes, on the other hand, are more entertaining spaces: they’re the spaces we want to share and show to our friends and the wider world.
Makes sense to me. And the best thing about subscribing to this theory is it means that, rather than telling ourselves off for winter slothfulness, we can choose to see it as a very positive thing. It gives us time off from cleaning and preening to focus on the comfortable fundamentals of our home – how it really works for our family, rather than how other people see it; how it feels rather than how it looks. The health and fitness experts might say it was less deconditioning, more working on your core strength.
I say relax and go with it.
Black is beautiful in so many ways. Our cover home is disciplined black and white. Abby Luke’s Tauranga home (on page 56) uses black with playful shots of colour. And our shopping pages celebrate warm, dark, desert-inspired hues (pages 43 and 44).
PS If you are determined not to let your domestic standards slide, you could try organising a midwinter NZ House & Garden shoot. Abby Luke – whose arty villa features in this issue – had a three-month action plan before our photographer Jane Ussher’s visit. “I had a clipboard with a list,” she says. “We painted, straightened the art… everything.” See the results on page 56.
Story: Sally Duggan