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Drawing together antique and modern pieces, the eclectic style of this renovated villa gives each room its own style and identity

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Sometimes the rules need to be broken in order to develop a design that suits a particular space or the personality of its owner. While the idea of combining classic looks with modern lines has become increasingly popular, in this home, the old and the new come together in surprising and creative combinations.

Modern Victorian are the words designer Melanie Stewart uses to describe her approach to the interior of this renovated villa. The owner wanted each room to have its own individual style, furnished with distinctive one-off pieces that were intrinsically beautiful but could also be used for comfortable day-to-day living. Stewart's approach incorporated an eclectic mix of antiques and modern pieces.

"There is a balance to the design, even though we broke every rule in the book," she says. "We put French antiques together with retro-styled sofas and an ancient Tibetan console table with Art Deco paintings. The contrasts are what make the combinations work."

Stewart's style is immediately evident in the entry hall which is lit by two elaborate chandeliers. The flamboyant colours are reflected in the Art Deco painting by Chris Wood, with a simple black and white frame that complements the 100-year-old Tibetan console table. The custom-designed runner with bright water lilies floating on a pond is based on a Van Gogh painting.

The light of the chandeliers is reflected in the mirror-tile dressmakers bust, which introduces a sense of soul to the design through the female form, Stewart says.

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The formal living room is a large space which called for oversized furniture. Stewart selected an antique Chinese day bed for use as the centrepiece coffee table. It is surrounded by extra large leather sofas which have a retro look. Two antique French chairs add to the mix, which is accented by a bold painting of a Maori chief by Darcy Nicholas.

The TV room has retained a number of original features, including the wood panelling around the windows and the wallpaper which give the room a strong, warm feeling. Light teal wall panels and a white sofa brighten the space, while the lamp adds a sense of fun with ostrich feather trim.

Classic leaded glass windows are part of the original structure of the villa, and to provide a contrast in the dining room, Stewart selected a modern, mirror frame. Its finish is a reflection of the stainless steel fittings in the next-door kitchen. The elegant cabriole legs on the French Provincial-style dining room table are complemented by Cerise velvet chairs with copper studs.

The master bedroom has a King Arthur style, Stewart says, with regal bedding and a formal French antique chair with a gilded finish. The wenge headboard, designed by Stewart, has a mother-of-pearl pinstripe set into the wood. Handmade drawer handles on the side tables also feature mother of pearl insets.

"The eclectic style creates an atmosphere of flamboyance, opulence and fun in a comfortable, liveable home," says Stewart.

First published date: 24 August 2003

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Credit List

Interior designer Melanie Stewart, The Interior Design Co (Auckland)
Builder Dave Findlay
Window treatments Redgraves Home Decor
Flooring Custom wood stain and rugs designed by The Interior Design Co
Paints Aalto Colour
Lighting Eunice Taylor and The Interior Design Co
Chandeliers Sharon Finn
Furniture Antiques and custom designs by The Interior Design Co
Upholstery fabrics Mokum Textiles, Textilla
Other furnishings Sofas from Corso De´ Fiori, bedding from Harrowset Hall
Artwork International Art Centre, Studio of Contemporary Art
Flowers Vida Flores