From the Editor June 2012
There’s not much I enjoy more than mixing up a good issue of NZ House & Garden. A few weeks before you get your magazine, I hole myself up in my office, extract the images of dozens of recent house shoots from my filing cabinet and set about concocting a good blend.
I might start with a lavishly decorated city home (such as Nicola Koptisch’s gold-plated home on page 18) and balance it with something rustic (the clever woolshed conversion on page 30, for example). I’ll probably add renovated villas and bungalows, an architectural beauty with glass and open spaces, and perhaps a laid-back bach or colourful artist’s eyrie.
If I end up with an issue bursting with different flavours of Kiwi homes, I’m happy because, well, that’s the way it is. Our domestic architecture is a marvellous mix of aesthetics; our prevailing style, “Anything goes as long as it works and looks good”.
I’m thinking about this right now because I am on holiday in New England in the US – an area renowned for its clam chowder and iconic architecture. Yesterday Nick drove our massive rented RV while I looked at the white, washed-blue and grey homes, strung like strands of a shell necklace along the New Hampshire and Maine coastline. It is spring and the houses have daffodils outside and wreaths on the doors. They are almost unbelievably pretty and – to a New Zealander – unbelievably similar.
Okay, there is the odd extra hip roof or shutter here and there, and plenty of variation in size. Some are more Georgian in flavour; others have Federal influences. But to my (admittedly uneducated) eye, they all loosely embrace that same New England look of symmetrical upright lines, paned white-framed windows and shingled roofs. Together, these hundreds of thousands of matching houses are a vision of historic Yankee pride, adaptation to a harsh climate and a shared civic vision. “We know who we are and where we came from,” they seem to be saying. “Why would we try to be anything else?”
This cookie-cutter look wouldn’t be right for New Zealand: our land is too varied, our Kiwi attitude too independent, too keen on improvisation, new ideas and DIY. (Bet New England building suppliers barely know what corrugated iron is.) New England is a lovely part of the world and I’ve had a great holiday, but I’m thinking of home now, and laying in winter firewood.
I’ll be back by the time you get this issue. With its nine gloriously different Kiwi homes, its a magazine tailor-made for a snug session with the rain drumming on a tin roof. Enjoy.