Sally wears a Country Road top; photographed by Emma Bass; Make-up by Kaitlin Chapman; hair by Michael Kent
I've spent the morning talking to NZ House & Garden
style editor Tracey Strange Watts about removal vans, tide charts, ramps and insurance policies. "Boys' stuff," Tracey calls it, and it's all part of the nitty-gritty detail behind every home feature (in this case a Christmas shoot at a remote bach).
This sort of practical stuff, I have to admit, is not something I've aspired to be particularly good at. Growing up, I never once thought: "Wish I could negotiate a removal van down a beach ramp". After three years on NZ House & Garden
, though, it has become glaringly obvious that creating a beautiful home (or a beautiful home feature for the magazine) is at least as much about practical know-how as about creative vision.
There are rare people who are both artistic and practical, but commonly this winning combination comes in a team of two. Very often, when we interview an arty homeowner, we find a hands-on doer lurking in the shadows. Take, for example, our cover home: its casual artistry belongs to Nelson sculptor Christine Boswijk, but she's quick to credit her husband Patrick (who is not in our photographs). "He constructs things; I put the fine feathers in the nest," she says.
I was thinking about all this yesterday, planning this letter, when I got a serendipitous call from Don Service in Christchurch. Turns out Don is a literal example of the unsung-maker-behind-the-artist: a man whose mission is to get our art hanging straight on the wall. Don is a 48-year-old construction project manager who says he "got sick of walking into people's homes and seeing their pictures leaning out at the top" so used his spare time to invent a special hook for recessed canvas frames: the Arthanga (arthanga.com
). Don is hugely proud of his hooks, but wasn't sure about having his own name in the magazine: "It's not about me."
Bless him. Not feeling qualified to judge the Arthanga myself, I turned to my own behind-the-scenes man. Practical husband Nick was impressed: "If you're tired of flimsy picture hooks, Arthanga could be the answer to your prayers," he said (see our Facebook page
for his post). I can't say I would ever call a hook the answer to a prayer, but that's the difference between Nick (who has a love of practical detail) and me (who doesn't). But I do hate saggy paintings.
So here's an overdue vote of thanks from us at NZ House & Garden to Don, Patrick, my Nick and all the other practical types who so often get second billing when we celebrate beautiful home interiors. We couldn't do it without you.