From the Editor April 2012
|Sally wears a calliope dress by caroline sills; Photographed by Jane Ussher; hair by Michael Kent; make-up by Kaitlin Chapman
Even as a little kid I knew the copper warming pan that hung by our fireplace was one of the most precious things we owned. I knew it because of the way Dad laid it, gently, on towels on the dining room table to polish it. Our great-grandmother, he told us, used to fill it with embers from the fire and swish it through the chilly sheets in her home in Canterbury, England. (Burning coals in your bed, imagine that!) He’d open the pan and show us the blackened insides and his face would glow with the telling of a good story.
I’ve been thinking about this lately – about how Dad’s anecdotes made our pretty but unexceptional copper pan into a priceless family heirloom – because it seems to me that stories (back stories, histories, anecdotes) are what everyone wants in their homes these days; they’re the latest and most covetable domestic treasures. That’s why we’re all framing up the family christening gowns, commissioning art for special birthdays, tracking down old stuff on TradeMe.
The clever people who sell new fabrics and homewares are also onto this and these days when I visit stores and outlets to see a new range of beautiful wares I’m more than likely to be told a good story as well. At Seneca Fabrics this week, for example, I drooled over the rich, gem-like colours of the new Lorca range of silks (see left). “It’s inspired by Queen Salote of Tonga,” owner Dayle Bygrave told me as I stroked and purred. “The English people loved her because at Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953 she was the only one to ride in an open-top carriage, despite the rain.” I saw a lot of gorgeous fabrics that day, but it was the Queen Salote silk that stuck in my mind.
Without sounding smug, I have to say that at NZ House & Garden we’ve always known the value of a good back story. Our main aim is to find and deliver pictures of gorgeous Kiwi houses, but we’re very aware that, when the images come with a juicy story, the magic is doubled. The rambling roses and cream arches of the Waiheke house on page 72 of this issue earn their place for pure prettiness. But read the story about how Bruce and Lori live off the grid and search the internet to find new ways to cook cabbage during glut season and suddenly it’s not just pretty; it’s an inspiration.
That’s just one of the good yarns we’ve got for you this issue. There are plenty more: a Gisborne beach house with a million-dollar Lalique collection; a homeowner who brought the twist dance sensation to New Zealand; gorgeous Cape Cod-style chairs made by a young man with Down syndrome. And so on…Happy reading.